7.1. How the Health and Safety impacts the environment
The environment is constantly at risk on a construction site due to the fact that during the development of the project a great amount of waste is created. This needs to be disposed of as timeously and efficiently as possible.
Most materials on site create some type of pollution which then effects the environment around it. If any incidents occur which causes spillage, from paint or chemicals etc, will contribute to ground pollution. If hazardous chemicals are not disposed of correctly and are dumped into rivers and lakes it will cause water pollution. Some gases that are release may contribute to air pollution increasing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere which in turn enables global warming. These are very severe cases but if it occurs over a long period of time it is most likely to happen.
Health and safety standards have to be developed to eliminate or minimize the amount of waste produced on site. It must also involve the workers on site as they are the ones who are handling the materials and disposing of the waste products.
If certain plans are not developed to aid the preservation of the environment it will lead to serious consequences that will affect the site itself as well as the communities and surrounding areas which could amount to hundreds and thousands of Rands in damage costs.
7.2. Plans developed to decrease the harm on the environment
In safety, the SHE policy means Safety, Health and Environment. Risk assessments are carried out to see the types of effects each task has on these three elements.
The risk assessments have to be carried out in such a way so that workers can understand that the waste that is created is detrimental to the environment unless disposed of correctly.
On most projects the main contractor provides skips where general waste can be disposed of. The waste is then removed usually taken by a specialist removal contracted company and the waste is disposed in accordance with the waste products requirements. For example, plastic and paper may be recycled.
Most people are unaware of the fact that there is another intangible pollution that can be created on site which is called sound pollution. Certain tasks that require heavy duty machinery or excessive drilling can lead to increase in noise levels in certain areas which do not permit the noise and this violation can be a chargeable offence.
7.2.1. Who creates the plan
According to the OHS ActÂ¹ provisions and awareness must be made to educate people on the conservation of the environment in relation to the tasks in which they perform every day. In all risk assessments workers need to be informed as to what waste is being created daily, what effects these wastes have
Most main contractors have issued a fairly new requirement, which must be provided in the company safety file is an Environment Management Plan. This plan must include a description of the waste that is generated by the specific company as well as methods in which the waste will be disposed of. If an external company such as ‘Reclam’ or ‘Wasteman’ is contracted to remove specific materials, for example Reclam disposes of aluminium waste and Wasteman disposes of glass waste accordingly, the main contractor should be notified.
In terms of general waste that does not need to be removed by a specialist removal company, the main contractor provides skips or designates dumping areas on site where the waste can be left. The main contractor takes full responsibility of the waste and has the waste collected and disposed of accordingly, which will then be charged to the designated sub-contractor for the amount of which depends on the size and severity of the waste created.
If, for example, the site is situated in a place that noise does not permit like a live hospital, arrangements are made by the main contractor which allows the noisy work to be performed under controlled conditions or at specific times of the day that would be confirmed by the hospital itself.
7.2.2. Who has to abide by these plans
If the main contractor has made the requests, then the main contractors’ workforce as well as the sub-contractor and his workforce must abide by these requests.
If in the case of the site where the live hospital is concerned, the rules will apply to the main contractor who then has the responsibility of informing and controlling the various sub-contractors in which the rules will apply to specifically.
7.2.3. What cost factors are involved
When sub-contractors have contracted their own waste removal company, they are liable for the payment of their own waste removal. A way in which to reduce the costs will be in the case of where general waste is created, and where the sub-contractor does not wish to use the main contractors’ waste solutions. Here the sub-contractor may offer others the service of the contracted waste removal services and in turn they will then share the costs amongst themselves.
If sub-contractors decides on using the designated waste areas or skips that have been provided by the main contractor they will have to pay the main contractor for the use of these facilities. The main contractor will control the area in which specific sub-contractors collect their waste and then a penalty will be charged to the sub-contractor for the use of this facility. The costs are calculated on the amount of waste generated and the time and frequency in which the waste needs to be removed off site. The costs will vary and is generally very high as most main contractors are trying to create a greater sense of conservation nowadays. When the costs are calculated the sub-contractor is informed and penalty is deducted from the monthly valuation of the contractors work that has been completed.
When a company is producing an excessive amount of waste it may be called for a temporary suspension off site, depending on the attitude the main contractor has towards environmental preservation. The sub-contractor has to then find alternatives for the disposal of waste or reconsider the materials used to reduce the waste if at all possible. The sub-contractor must then issue the new plan of waste removal to the main contractor for approval and will then be notified on the results. This is a timeous process, and if the sub-contractor is suspended off site it means that his cash flow and hand over date will be compromised which will affect him financially. When the hand over date is compromised, longer working hours have to be put in therefore that is extra costs and penalties will be issued from the main contractor for every day that exceeds the hand over date. This amount is site specific which depends on the project size and the importance of the job.