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Too many a slip

SAFETY

Despite improvements in equipment, the number and severity of industrial accidents in the foundation sector is still above average.

Thirty one to 35 year olds have more accidents than any other age group, there is a significant peak in accidents between 10 o'clock in the morning and mid-day; and accidents drop off through the week - the mean accident rate on Friday is only two thirds that of Monday.

These are some of the more surprising statistics from EFFC's safety working group. More generally, slipping, tripping and falling over are the biggest causes of site accidents within the foundation industry.

The report was compiled by Walter Ensinger, chairman of EFFC's safety and environmental working group.

Latest conclusions are based on accident reports from over 2,500 incidents that occurred while carrying out specialist foundation works between 1998 and 2002 in EFFC member companies.

It confirms the general findings of earlier analysis, but extends the database of participating countries and companies. Analysis includes reports from member companies in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.

According to Ensinger, 'foundation construction is particularly innovative and developments in machinery have contributed towards continuous improvements in the quality of work and productivity. Nevertheless, analysis shows industrial accidents are still above average in occurrence and severity.'

Ensinger argues that even leaving aside moral and legal issues, the economic implications provides sufficient grounds to make accident protection a key issue in the planning and implementation of work.

'This preventive approach should, however, not be restricted to industrial accidents alone, ' he urges. 'It is important also to consider influencing factors, such as noise and frequent lifting of heavy weights, that can lead to excessive strain and stress and which are detrimental to the health of the employees when endured on a permanent basis.'

But above all, Ensinger concludes: 'It was confirmed again and again that accidents are usually the result of, or are 'caused' by a combination of several, often independent incidences.'

His hope is EFFC's safety initiative will encourage more widespread and consistent surveys at both a national and individual company level - and that EFFC's European-wide results will be used as comparative values for benchmarking purposes.

Survey questions The report presents results and analysis of the following:

Which geotechnical process result in the greatest number of accidents

Distribution of accidents through the days of the week

What time of day accidents occur

Length of shift leading up to an accident

Where accidents occur (ie on site, in the yard/workshop, while travelling)

Which age group is most likely to have an accident

Which parts of body get injured most frequently

Most common accident causes (ie trip or hit by moving objects etc) broken down into processes (ie bored piling, driving piling, jet grouting etc)

Which activities lead to accidents ie manual handling, climbing up equipment

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