Designing for Safety
This month our suspended access system, QuikDeck®, has been in focus, highlighting the ways it can be used to provide safe temporary workspaces in challenging locations. This final post in the series considers the ways we use design in the planning process to enhance the safety of people working in the temporary workspaces that QuikDeck® is used to create.
AquaTerra Group is called on to support a wide variety of construction projects, both on and offshore, often in difficult, hard-to-reach areas.
The design of the structure or platform itself often includes specific provisions for underdeck access and workspaces. This may include catwalks, safety rails, ladders, or access hatches that are specifically designed for workers to access and work safely below the deck. However, this is not always enough. This is where AquaTerra Group’s scope often begins.
AquaTerra Group and QuikDeck®
In my role as project manager, I am responsible for leading the engineering design of our QuikDeck® systems. I believe that designing for safety is the key consideration when plotting out scopes. When built in as part of the project planning phase, safety measures are seamless, supporting teams to be more time and cost-efficient.
Despite the wide range of projects and locations, there are a few checkpoints that the AquaTerra team will observe during a scoping / planning phase to ensure that we are identifying and addressing the significant safety and design points we need:
- Map the project: This begins with a full project meeting to understand the scope of work – what equipment will be on the platform, what activities will be underway at each stage? How many people need to use the system and when. These discussions are fundamentally about safety, building a base from which we work out what calculations, risk assessments, resourcing, training we need to plan for.
- Engineering: for each job, we must consider the load distribution and the individual loads on suspension points. With this information, the operator can be sure that the platform steelwork is correctly rated.
- Training – whenever we are deploying QuikDeck®, our skilled, experienced construction teams receive in-house training on the construction and use of the system. Our teams are specialists in QuikDeck®, whatever their discipline, backed-up by expert, verified engineering.
General points to consider in designing safe workspaces:
Whether or not your organisation is using QuikDeck®, there are some common things that are universal in designing for safety, ensuring the welfare of workers in temporary workspaces, especially if these are confined or hazardous areas.
- Risk Assessment: Before any underdeck work begins, a thorough risk assessment should be conducted to identify potential hazards and develop mitigation strategies. The design can then incorporate these strategies into the workspace.
- Monitoring and Inspection: Design should allow for easy monitoring and inspection of underdeck work areas. This may involve the installation of cameras or access points for safety inspections.
- Fall Protection: Fall protection is a paramount concern for underdeck workers. Design elements such as guardrails, safety nets, or personal fall arrest systems should be integrated into the structure’s design to prevent workers from falling to lower levels.
- Equipment and Tools: Design should consider the types of equipment and tools needed for underdeck work. Secure storage spaces and mounting points for equipment can help prevent accidents caused by loose objects.
- Material Handling: Considerations for the safe movement of materials and equipment to and from underdeck workspaces should be part of the design. This may involve the installation of hoists, cranes, or material lifts.
- Lighting and Ventilation: Adequate lighting and ventilation are essential for ensuring the safety and comfort of underdeck workers. Properly designed openings, windows, or ventilation systems should be incorporated to provide good visibility and fresh air.
- Emergency Escape Routes: Designing clear and accessible emergency escape routes is crucial. In case of unforeseen emergencies or accidents, underdeck workers need a safe way to exit the confined space quickly.
To read more about QuikDeck®, AquaTerra’s rapid, safe and cost-effective suspended access platform, visit our product page here: https://aquaterra.co.uk/quikdeck/
For more on our expertise in hazardous area entry and rescue: https://aquaterra.co.uk/hazardous-area-ops/
For more on integrating safety into your design process, the HSE provides a library of role-specific resources