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Analysis of accidents in the geotechnical and foundation sector: A tool for collecting and analysing accident data. By EFFC Safety and Environmental Working Group chairman Walter Ensinger.

Effective accident prevention relies to a great extent on a good understanding of onsite hazards, which allow a proper risk assessment and effective prevention measures.

Although some hazards are obvious, other incidents may appear to be isolated one-off occurrences that could be attributed to bad luck.

However, if it can be shown that such incidents are typical of a certain system, greater attention can be paid to the system's characteristics that might contribute to the risk.

Many foundation contractors are small companies for whom it can be difficult to obtain a real appreciation of accident frequency associated with particular work places or systems. If the only available data comes from the company's own accidents then it may take many years before sufficient statistics become available for analysing trends or to understand all the possible risk factors. Since each piece of data represents an injured person, it is important that every opportunity is taken to learn from other companies.

A major task of the EFFC safety working group has been developing a tool to collect accident reports from foundation companies and to analyse these statistics to provide an essential aid for accident prevention work.

Since 1995, numerous member companies of the national EFFC partner organisations have provided information on every accident occurring on their premises or sites.

Participation in this program is on a voluntary basis and the information provided remains anonymous.

For this purpose a report sheet has been prepared with spaces to tick or enter information on the following issues: time of accident; duration of shift; age and occupation of the injured person; place of the accident; injuries; activity carried out at the time of the accident and accident description.

It is a requirement in all European countries to report accidents to the relevant authority. However, there is a huge variety of forms, using a variety of de nitions and formats.

Also, these forms are often designed for every industrial sector and not for construction alone. Even if the form is just for construction, it covers all building activities.

The EFFC form is specific to foundation and other geotechnical work. It is an easy checkbox format and covers activities and hazards that occur on foundation sites. It can therefore be used by companies to carry out their own analyses of their own accidents, and if data is submitted to the EFFC, it can be analysed to identify industry-wide trends that may otherwise not be obvious.

More than 3500 industrial accidents have been reported, all of which occurred during geotechnical and foundation works in 13 European countries. These accident reports provide an extensive and reliable database, from which analysts can reach reliable conclusions on the causes of accidents. In addition, this database provides useful information, from which target-oriented measures can be worked out to minimise risks and reduce accident rate and severity.

Reports on the survey results were published in several national and international publications (see also www. foundationworld. org. uk/jsp/ safety_e. pdf).

The results show that 16% of accidents occurred in the workshop and contractor's yard (see gure 1). This means that activity involving manual handling like repair and maintenance work represents a key accident hazard and deserves special attention when planning preventive measures.

The high rate of accidents from slipping, tripping or falling on the same level during grouting work indicates the need for greater attention on the safe design and maintenance of walkways and accesses (see gure 2).

The findings of the EFFC accident analysis provide reliable evidence concerning equipment that can be incorporated into the European safety standards for drill rigs and piling rigs.

The collection and analysis of data, which began in 1995, should be encouraged. The Safety Working Group of EFFC decided for that reason to redesign the EFFC report sheet to make it even more simple, to keep preparation work for companies to a minimum and therefore increase the willingness to cooperate.

Several language versions of the accident sheet have been prepared and can be found on the 'About EFFC' section of the EFFC website www. foundationworld. org and the accident form is available in English, French, German, Italian, Dutch and Swedish.

The more data received, the more sound and realistic the results will be. Active participation in this EFFC safety project will provide a statistical basis, which is essential for international projects, but will also allow each company and national federation to set a benchmark.

We recommend that you grasp this chance.

Walter Ensinger is chairman of the EFFC Safety and Environmental Working Group.

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