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Modular construction: 4 health and safety benefits

Matthew Goff, from Actavo | Building Solutions, shares his top-four health and safety benefits of using modular construction

Posted by Hannah Vickers | June 03, 2017 | Security & safety

Many people who work in the construction industry would agree that the health and safety of staff and visitors is one of the most important factors on any construction project. Technological advancements have made projects more complex and safety measures have to be multi-faceted.

1.    Buildings are manufactured in a controlled environment

Modules – which are the building blocks behind modular construction – are manufactured offsite using specialist plant machinery in a controlled environment. This process reduces waste and increases control, leading to a low environmental impact.

These modules are then delivered to site pre-fitted with electrics, plumbing, heating, doors and windows, thereby reducing the onsite building programme and accelerating the overall construction process.

The reduced onsite building time, coupled with the indoor manufacturing environment, combines to reduce the risk of accidents associated with construction sites. A recent report by CIBSE (Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers) Journal has concluded the construction industry could reasonably expect a significant reduction in incidents if it adopted more of a manufacturing mindset.

Factory construction methods pose far fewer risks for both workers and the general public, compared with inherent dangers of a building site.

2.    Reduction in waste

67% less energy is required to produce a modular building, compared to an equivalent, traditionally-built project. Typically, compared with traditional methods, modular methods involve up to 50% less time onsite, resulting in up to 90% fewer vehicle movements around the project which, in turn, reduces CO2 emissions.

There are also fewer people working onsite at any one time, giving a potential total reduction in site hours of 60% to 80%.

Offsite construction delivers a significant reduction in waste. No hazardous materials are sent to a modular building site, as the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) is controlled and managed offsite in the factory environment.

The impact on the local environment is also reduced, as there is less noise, packaging and emissions. These matters will have been addressed and resolved in the factory, which allows for far greater efficiencies in environmental control measures and materials.

Also, when a modular building is built to comply with specific sustainability standards – such as BREEAM, AECB or Passivhaus – buildings may see a reduction in energy consumption and running costs.

3.    Offsite can provide safer working conditions

Modular construction can provide cleaner, safer working conditions. The factory-based conditions of offsite enable safety requirements to be more easily met and policed, which leads to better quality, a reduction in the level of defects and improved quality control procedures. Actavo works to ISO Accredited Certifications 9001, 14001, 18001, and 50001.

Not only is there a reduced risk of trips, slips and falls - particularly as work at height is reduced - but there is also a reduction in onsite activity. The manual handling and lifting of goods onsite is also limited, as materials are mechanically moved in a highly-regulated production unit.

Actavo’s factory environment has been designed with purpose-made workstations, where modules can be appropriately tested using controlled sources of heating, power, air and water. 

4.    Specialist training in modular environment

Ensuring everyone’s safety is at the heart of what Actavo does and, in line with this, we have developed the HEART (Help Eliminate All Risks Today) procedure.

Every injury is preventable, so don’t let any happen

Devised and implemented in the continuous effort to create an accident and incident-free environment, the HEART behavioural safety observation process sets the whole Actavo team’s expectation: every injury is preventable, so don’t let any happen.

Actavo has also developed a set of ‘Golden Rules’ – including care, skills, protect and plan – designed to help its team ‘work safe, go home safe’.

To continually improve health and safety standards, Actavo has a designed SHEQ (safety, health, environment, quality) team which enforces and monitors regular health and safety audits. 

Working to health and safety legislation, each member of Actavo’s highly-trained, onsite team is CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) certified, is Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) checked, and wears a numbered high-visibility vest so they are easily identifiable, to ensure the safety of everyone.

Matthew Goff is director of UK operations  at Actavo | Building Solutions

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