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To start with, DoR and JICA will work on ensuring safety in the construction of bridges
To start with, DoR and JICA will work on ensuring safety in the construction of bridges

Safety first, not last 

To ensure zero accident at construction sites, the Department of Roads (DoR) and JICA experts are preparing a safety guideline, a toolkit for field checklist on safety control in bridge constructions.

The guidelines, which is a part of the development in construction and maintenance of bridges in Bhutan (CAMBRIDGE) project through JICA, is based on the policy of safety first, elimination of causes, thorough precaution, and thorough prevention of public accidents.

Explaining the draft guidelines at a seminar last week, executive engineer with the bridge division, Rinchen Khandu, said that the method to achieve zero accident would depend on the discretion of the contractor and employers through compliance to the safety guidelines.

“The safety control guidelines should be included in the condition of contract in the tender document, which doesn’t happen at present,” Rinchen Khandu said. “It would be strictly monitored if the activities at construction site are as per the guidelines and field checklist.”

He said a penalty such as criminal or civil liability would be imposed on the contractor if safety controls were compromised.

The guideline, which was in preparation since 2016, would be enforced after a round of consultation meeting with stakeholders where the penalty clause would also be discussed.

Rinchen Khandu said the guidelines also cover the type of major accidents and its measures. “The contractor shall submit a safety plan within a month of signing the contract,” he said.

As per the guidelines, morning meeting shall be conducted everyday, health condition of workers assessed, hazardous work identified and measures to ensure safety explained.

The guidelines also recommend monthly or weekly safety goals, “safety first” sign boards at construction site displayed, measures to prepare scaffolding as per the safety plan and safety measures on shoring work, and crane and heavy equipment.

The ministry of labour and human resources (MoLHR) would look into the safety laws while the works and human settlement ministry would handle the guidelines. Inspections would be conducted jointly and the MoLHR would impose the penalties.

Sharing on safety management for construction works, JICA’s technical advisor Yamada Osamu said safety is the top priority in construction works to establish and disseminate culture of safety.

“There is unfortunately no easy way to improve safety management but steady steps should be taken to improve safety management,” Yamada Osamu said. “We should set up appropriate safety facilities, follow appropriate working procedure, and enhance the workers’ awareness for safety. No one can give excuse of lack of money to take safety measure.”

Yangchen C Rinzin

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