We are told that sometimes, safety procedures on construction sites can feel like an added burden. In some cases, they feel like a tick box exercise, with thoughts such as ‘it couldn't happen to me, I'm streetwise, and I know this site like the back of my hand. I won't be caught out'. However, all too often, we read stories about incidents that make us sit up and think differently.
In this interview, Ahmed Raza, a construction site contractor, shares with us the incident that cost one man his mobility, but changed another man’s perspective on safety and likely saved the lives of others as a result. This is why safety matters.
#Story 3: How One Incident Changed This Safety Professional’s Life Forever
It wasn’t unusual for me to travel from one construction site to another as a plant operator under contract. The construction site where the incident happened was one of the largest I had ever worked on; a bridge build, steep bankings and hundreds of workers on site.
On site were cranes, loading shovels, and on this day I was driving a 360 excavator. The primary contractor for the build was a well-known construction firm. However, there were around 20 different smaller companies on site too.
On the day of the incident, I head a loud crash, and I saw a large cloud of dust. On the opposite side of the banking, a JCB on a steep incline had toppled and rolled right over.
I saw lots of people rush over to the crash, so I ran over to the site supervisor and asked if I could support – I had emergency medical skills from my time as an ambulance driver. He agreed and I ran as fast as I could to the toppled JCB.
An air ambulance had been called but in the meantime, I climbed into the cab where the driver was bleeding and unconscious. He wasn't breathing and I could see that his foot was crushed and severed from his leg. He had lost a lot of blood. Someone passed me a bandage so I could stem the blood flow and then I began CPR.
All of a sudden I felt the cab start to slide. I shouted to everyone around me to move and just in time they did. The JCB slid further down the embanking and on impact, I felt my collar bone breaking into two. I continued CPR as best as I could until the ambulance arrived.
The driver of the JCB survived but spent the next 12 months in the hospital which had a big impact on his family. I was off work for three months, and I couldn’t return to the same job. The investigation into the accident revealed that the JCB driver was newly qualified, with no experience. His credentials had not been checked. There was not a project manager assigned to the job, no risk assessment, no health, and safety audit.
I later found out there had been a series of un-reported near-misses associated with the JCB. The health and safety protocol on-site was diabolical!
I have since retrained as a Site Health and Safety Manager and qualified with a NEBOSH International Certificate and Occupational Health and Safety. The trauma of the incident made me take stock, and now I want to protect others from the same errors, and make sure that my colleagues go home safely to their family and loved ones.
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