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Mujtaba Lokhandwala on how to reduce accidents at construction sites

Mujtaba Lokhandwala is the convener of Construction Safety Awards Committee of the PCERF. Prachi Bari in conversation with him over the nuances of safety at construction sites.

pune Updated: Nov 16, 2017 15:46 IST
Prachi Bari
Prachi Bari
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,accidents,construction sites
Mujtaba Lokhandwala says that a change in the mindset of all the stakeholders including workers, safety officers, project engineers and managers is needed to enhance safety measures at construction sites.(HT REPRESENTATIVE PHOTO)

Mujtaba Lokhandwala is a mechanical engineer and has been a volunteer with the Pune Construction Engineering Research Foundation (PCERF) since 2011. He is also the convener of Construction Safety Awards Committee of the PCERF. Prachi Bari in conversation with him over the nuances of safety at construction sites.

What do you think is the major reason behind the recent accidents at construction sites in the city?

Most of the accidents happen majorly because of negligence. Most builders have many safety equipment and systems on record. The problem is with the implementation of these mechanisms on the site.This requires a change in the mindset of all the stakeholders including workers, safety officers, project engineers and managers. Most contractors and workers take safety lightly and assume that they are fine without the equipment. This thought has to be countered. Another assumption is that safety is the concern of the safety officer and therefore, others are not involved. Actually, safety officer is an expert who oversees the equipment and can only suggest measures. Implementation should be everyone's concern. Many think that somehow, safety is an obstacle to the timely completion of projects. People need to understand that work and safety go hand in hand

Do builders and developers take the safety aspect of construction seriously?

In the past five years, with the Pune Construction Engineering Research Foundation instituting the Construction Safety Awards, builders have started implementing better safety measures. They have also started recording and analysing the causes of potential problems and near-misses to continuously improve their responses.

Where are the lapses when it comes to using safety measures on construction sites before possession and after?

Usually, the most potential hazards are found in buildings which are under construction or undertaking repairs. The two biggest challenges are preventing workers from falling from heights and housekeeping. Edge protection, safety nets and proper use of harnesses is the solution apart from intensive training. Proper housekeeping also helps in avoiding unforeseen hazards.

What kind of solutions can you suggest to avoid such accidents/ mishaps?

The only solution is educate, train and make construction workers aware of the dangers that surround construction sites. Contractors as well as developers should also be aware of the dangers of not having quality safety measures in place. PCERF conducts various training courses including a safety supervisors course and a scaffold inspector's course, to ensure workers’ safety in temporary structures. We have in-house and external experts to train workers, who conduct practical demonstrations, use multimedia and conduct tool box training.

Do you have any data or statistics to suggest that accidents are a regular occurrence?

About statistics, there is no centralised repository or record of construction accidents as of now. Now that the Building and other Construction Act is being implemented, hopefully, statistics would become available in the future.

First Published: Nov 16, 2017 15:30 IST