As a global business, we have identified several risks which deem to have fatal consequences, one of which is the interface between people and plant on our projects.

Last year, the United Kingdom Health and Safety Executive identified being struck by a moving vehicle as one of the biggest contributors to workplace fatalities. Considering this and the fact that the construction sector alone has contributed to the highest number of fatalities, raises concern to businesses operating in this sector and requires a substantial need for risk control.

As part of our overall commitment to health & safety, we decided to deliver a campaign across the Middle East addressing one of our fatal risks: people and plant interface. It was implemented alongside the celebration of the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) 18th World Day for Safety and Health at Work.

The campaign aimed at raising awareness around health & safety at work, as well as the hazards contractors and consultants should all be aware of when working near plant. It showed particular attention to the use of pedestrian routes, visibility and blind spots of operators. These were delivered through a series of briefings by supervisors and onsite health and safety teams prior to starting work.

The campaign also focused on the following key areas which need to be considered for the interaction of people and plant on our projects.

Safe Site

Reviews were conducted on the current traffic management arrangements across all projects where the risk of people and plant interface was present. They were conducted in consultation with all parties, including consultants and contractors, ensuring effective arrangements were in place for the segregation of plant and people; traffic routes were fit for purpose and catered for all types of plant on the project; signage and speed limits were in place; and the general management of plant movement was satisfactory.

Safe Plant

A number of interactive training sessions were delivered to operators highlighting the importance of ensuring the plant is fit for purpose, ensuring warning devices such as flashing beacons, reversing alarms and other markings were visible to pedestrians. The sessions also included inspections of plant before and after use, reviews of maintenance schedules to prevent the likelihood of equipment failure, potentially exposing other people to preventable injuries.

Safe Operators

We invested quality time in providing practical and theoretical training with operators, banksmen and labourers indicating blind spots and highlighting the importance of maintaining eye contact with operators of plant. A review of training records and competencies of operators was conducted to ensure they have received the necessary information, instruction and training for the vehicle they use.

At the end of the campaign, the project teams and senior management team presented the workforce with awards as recognition for their contribution to health and safety across the projects. Two of our major projects in Dubai received a special visit from the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health’s (IOSH) President, Craig Foyle, who was in the region at the time.

Our Head of HSEQ, Matt Jackson, and the current IOSH UAE Branch Chair said, “The activities have shown the passion and drive our project teams have and bring to our projects on a daily basis to keep contractors and consultants free from harm. These maybe part of a campaign, but it doesn’t stop here, we will continue to raise the standards of health and safety across our projects and we don’t expect anything less. It’s part of our fabric as a business, it’s what we do best”.

Craig Foyle, IOSH President said, As the President of IOSH, I wanted to see how safety and health was being managed during my trip to the Middle East. I was given the opportunity to visit 2 major projects in Dubai and celebrate the success with individuals who had been nominated for their special commitment to safety and health. In addition, our site visits provided an excellent opportunity to see how well the projects were being run on site. We were advised of the significant efforts in design to minimise the impact to safety and health during the construction phase and of the significant steps to ensure that the end product will meet the strict performance requirements. I thank WSP for providing this opportunity. It was a great opportunity to see the importance placed upon safety and health at site level.”