bnn.lv Latviski   bnn-news.com English   bnn-news.ru По-русски
Monday 23.07.2018 | Name days: Magda, Magone, Mērija
LatviaLatvia

Work safety at a construction field: problem, myth or unnecessary extra

FaceBook
Twitter
Draugiem
print
(No Ratings Yet)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUThe matter of work safety in construction remains a topical and complex matter. One of the examples is the construction process of Kekava primary school, in relation to which residents have voiced serious concerns for the safety of the people at work there. Construction firm Abora, meanwhile, says there is nothing to those rumours, and that those are merely «foolish words» coming from dissatisfied workers.

BNN decided to dig into this matter.

The second stage of the construction process of Kekava primary school commenced in January 2015. After all the necessary documents and technical specifications were prepared, a tendering process was announced for the third stage of the construction process.

Abora won the tender. This company was also responsible for the previous two stages of the construction process. The contract was signed by Kekava City Council Chairman Andis Damlics and Abora board member Juris Kravalis on 18 August 2015, according to information available on the website.

BNN has since acquired photos from Kekava residents, showing that workers at the construction field have insufficient equipment. On top of that, workers themselves have expressed serious concerns about their own safety when working there.

To find out more, BNN contacted one of the construction workers. He provided his opinion about work conditions there.

At the beginning of the conversation, the man expressed a very clear position, saying: «I don’t feel safe there. No one really thinks about us and our safety.»

When asked what kinds of risks are present, the man replied: «First of all there is the risk of falling off the roof. I work on the roof, and it is high enough for me to put my life at serious risk every day. You need stairs to climb to and from the roof, but we don’t even have those.»

Abora’s representative Atis Melngalvis says his company is not responsible for that, because in accordance with construction regulations, each worker is responsible for his or her safety at work. In this case, responsibility for construction work of Kekava Primary School lies with Abora’s subsidiary Reserv Inc.

«Abora as the head engineer is responsible for fencing off the territory to prevent unauthorized people from entering the construction field, as well as fencing off the road people use to move around. The company is responsible for general safety. Abora also secure drinking water and ensure fire safety,» Melngalvis told BNN.

He adds that the company is very serious about work safety. «Construction objects are monitored. There are journals in which violations are recorded. So work monitoring is performed,» Melngalvis continues, adding that there is also security in place to ensure unauthorized people do not enter.

To find out who is responsible for work safety at construction fields, BNN contacted the State Labour Inspectorate.

The inspectorate explains its answer by referring to Cabinet Requirements Nr.372 Labour Protection Requirements When Using Personal Protective Equipment. According to point 21 of requirements, the employer has specific duties that must be performed.

It is important to mention that no one other than the employer is responsible for labour safety and compliance with relevant regulations, as reported by the inspectorate.

In addition, SLI emphasizes that after surveying environmental risks, labour protection specialist has to develop specific measures to prevent risks, such as the risk of labourers falling off a roof.

In its written explanation, Reserv Inc. commented the situation at the construction field in Kekava – «risk assessment has been performed there, a work safety plan has been developed, employees have been presented with risk assessment results and work safety plan and have confirmed their knowledge of it with a signature in the journal/document».

When asked to comment photos and concerns voiced by residents and workers about the situation at the construction field, Reserv Inc. said: «Workers have been provided with elements of individual protection – work helmet, work boots, appropriate apparel, gloves and safety harness for work at high altitudes. Employees have been trained in the use of safety elements, their maintenance and storage. In accordance with European and Latvian requirements, safety harnesses must comply with CE standards that guarantee all safety requirements. Reserv Inc. uses only appropriate equipment with full accordance with requirements.»

Unfortunately, employees could not confirm whether or not the company has provided them with the necessary safety elements. According to information provided to BNN, neither work gloves nor work boots in sufficient amount have been issued to workers. ‘Once a week we’re supplied with three pairs of gloves for ten workers,’ said one interviewed construction worker.

The company has only issued work helmets.

It is also important to mention that, in relation to work on the roof, an anonymous source says a person cannot stay on the roof without a safety harness, «but the harness is not safely attached to a rope».

«Management wants workers to use a safety harness, but what’s the point in it if there is no rope to ensure the worker does not fall to his death. The answer is simple, really – work if you want to, or don’t,» said one anonymous worker.

BNN found out that one worker was seriously injured during work. The young man refused to comment this situation, however.

Abora’s representative commented the situation as an accident that is not related to equipment, saying that the man in question was aware of the necessary safety precautions. «This was an unfortunate accident. They happen. People sometimes cut their fingers, trip and fall over. This is what is usually called an accident.»

As for the necessary activities in the event of an accident at a construction field, SLI explains: if an accident takes place at a construction field, the employer must comply with Cabinet Requirements Nr.950 Procedures for Investigation and Registration of Accidents at Work.

The worker was asked if, before starting work, he had signed a document to confirm he is authorized to be at the construction field. The man told BNN that he has not signed any papers during his time working there. «No one even informed us of work safety regulations. In other companies employees are obligated to listen to a lecture about safety and sign a paper to confirm they are aware of the rules.»

When asked about this, SLI responded the following way: the employer is not allowed to permit workers to commence work without first going through a safety lecture and confirming their awareness with a signature in a relevant document.

Although BNN had contacted Abora and had mentioned complaints voiced by workers and residents alike, upon arriving at the construction field after two weeks, BNN journalists found that the situation had not changed at all – workers still did not have the appropriate safety equipment.

Reserv Inc. mentioned in its response: «Following your complaint, the company has since rectified all problems, performed an in-depth lecture with workers about safety and mandatory use of safety harnesses.» Workers, however, deny having been provided with any talks or lectures on work safety.

Sandris Liepins, manager of Inspecta Latvia Construction Department, comments the situation in the construction industry: «Legislation has rather big holes in relation to construction work procedures.»

«The construction work plan must provide clear details about the order and criteria used for each type of work. The plan is used to clearly demonstrate to the construction work manager which quality criteria have to be followed. Of course, the plan only works if it was not prepared using copy/paste method. In case of the latter, the document is promptly put in the trash and the project itself is left unsupervised,» Liepins said.

He notes that such a situation is particularly dangerous if there is a less-experienced work manager or a construction project of a certain complexity, when it is highly important to follow strict order and guidelines. On top of that, manufacturers tend to have different requirements for work using their manufactured materials. «Unfortunately, often we see a situation when a person picks up a welding apparatus and uses it how he thinks it should be used,» construction engineer Liepins comments on the situation.

An anonymous construction worker also has an opinion about the situation in Latvia’s construction industry: «I think there are a lot of holes in construction in general, not just where I work. I need work, so I try to be careful, but no one is really safe from accidents. As I’ve said before, you have choice – either to climb to the roof or don’t. Either way there is no shortage of people wanting to work.»

Ref: 225.109.109.6009


Leave a reply

Week in Lithuania. Liberals ex-leader fails to recover confiscated cash

Eligijus Masiulis, a former Liberal Movement leader on trial in a major political corruption case, has failed to recover cash that was found and seized during searches of his home.

BNN summary of the week: open presidential election in Latvia and no more plastic bags for shoppers

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Future; Change; Fight; Decline; Business; Progress.

SRS: cash register reform still stagnates, but has become much faster than it was last year

The cash registers reform continues stagnating. However, it has become much faster than it was a year ago, as reported by State Revenue Service.

Specialists to search for solutions to topical environmental problems in Ventspils

On Friday, 20 July, a meeting was held between Ventspils Commercial Port representatives and specialists from State Environment Service.

Children with functional disorders to receive services financed by EU funds

Child invalids will have access to social services intended to improve their social skills and mobility. More than EUR 4.2 million has been allocated for this goal from the European Social Fund, as confirmed by Latvia’s Central Financing and Contracting Agency.

Producer price level in industry up 4.3% in Latvia

Compared to June 2017, the average level of producer prices in Latvian industry increased by 4.3 % in June 2018. Prices of products sold on the domestic market rose by 4.8 % and those of exported products by 3.7 %.

Total tax debts in Latvia in July – 1.212 billion euros

At the beginning of July total tax debts in Latvia, including outstanding debts, halted debts and debts applied with repayment term extensions, accounted for EUR 1.212 billion, which is 0.8% less than a month prior, according to data from the State Revenue Service.

Survey: every third Latvian resident has received illegal loan offers

Nearly every third resident in Latvia or 31% of respondents admit having received offers to use illegal loan services, as concluded in a survey performed by Latvian Alternative Financial Services Association and SKDS.

Libya opposed to EU's idea to establish migrant centres in North Africa

Libya is against the solution of the European Union to set up migrant centres in the North African country as a means to keep migrants from arriving in the bloc and Libya would not be convinced with financial support, its Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj has noted.

Arrest warrant on Catalan ex-President cancelled by Spain

The Supreme Court of Spain cancelled a European arrest warrant for former Catalan regional leader Carles Puigdemont, as Germany refused to extradite him to face accusations of rebellion for declaring the independence of Spain's region, Catalonia in 2017.

Latvian government plans to allow handing expired food to charity

Latvia’s Agriculture Ministry has prepared amendments to the Law on the Supervision of the Handling of Food that provide permission to hand over certain types of food products to charity after the end of their expiry date.

Estonian industrial producer prices up 2.9% since June 2017

Estonian industrial producer price index has risen by 2.9% between June 2017 and the first summer month this year, resulting in an increase of export prices as well, Estonian statisticians have estimated.

Putin urges NATO to quit «irresponsibly» developing ties with Ukraine, Georgia

Russia's President Vladimir Putin cautioned NATO against developing deeper relations with Ukraine and Georgia, evaluating such a policy was irresponsible and would have consequences for the military alliance.

Latvian parliament not in a hurry to support president Vejonis for a second term

Political parties represented in the Saeima are not eager to support President Raimonds Vējonis for his remainder for a second term.

Weather in Latvia will remain warm and even hot at times

Weather in Latvia in the nearest couple of days will be dictated by a cyclone. Because of that the sky will be partially covered by clouds; thunderstorms are also expected, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Hungary sued in EU Court for criminalising help to illegal immigrants

The European Union's executive body has stated that a law in Hungary that criminalises support for illegal immigrants is in breach with EU law and Hungary has now been referred to the European Court of Justice for the alleged non-compliance.

Estonians buy alcohol in Latvia; country loses EUR 20 million in six months

Latvian stores located close to the Latvian-Estonian border have sold 1.6 million litres of strong alcoholic drinks in the first half year of 2019. This means Estonia has lost more than EUR 20 million in taxes, according to data from Association of Estonian Alcohol Producers and Importers.

Lithuania’s election watchdog slams ruling LFGU over popular TV series

Political messages can be channeled in various ways and the ruling now Lithuanian party, LFGU has chosen a very delicate way of the communications – through a TV series featuring the beauty and the ambiance of Naisiai, a picturesque settlement in Siauliai district.

Association: around 3,3000 people know of their HIV infection but receive no treatment

HIV remains a serious problem in Latvia – around 3,300 people are aware of their status but receive no treatment and continue spreading the infection. Because of that, it is necessary to act quickly for Latvia to lose its status as HIV kingdom and limit the spread of the infection, says Baltic HIV Association, informing decision-makers and responsible officials in institutions and hospitals about the HIV/AIDS situation.

Driver shortage may force reduction of international road haulage volumes

Latvia’s road haulage companies have started experiencing shortage of drivers. On top of that, if employment conditions for residents of non-EU member states do not change, it may be necessary to reduce the volume of road haulage volumes, says Latvijas auto president Valdis Trēziņš.

Lattelecom’s turnover up 9% in first half-year of 2018

Lattelecom Group’s turnover reached EUR 98.7 million in the first half-year of 2018, growing by 9% in comparison with the same period of 2017, according to unaudited financial results.

1,140 fewer births registered in Latvia in 2017

Since 2016 the number of births in Latvia is declining again. Compared to 2016, a total of 1,140 births fewer were registered in 2017. Also, the provisional number of births registered over the first six months of 2018 (9,664 children) is by 664 children smaller than that registered over the respective period of 2017.

Citadele Bank decides to reform Lithuanian subsidiary as a branch office

Citadele Bank has decided to reform its Lithuanian subsidiary as a branch office, as confirmed in the statement the bank submitted to Nasdaq Riga.

Russian pension age hike discussed amid protest outside Duma

As the Russian paliament votes on the proposal to gradually increase he pension age to 65 for men and 63 for women, some 200 people were seen protesting against the reform in Moscow.

Corruption watchdog chief says bureau has done no illegal actions

After going through Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau’s past investigative activities, the bureau’s chief – Jēkabs Straume – found it confusing that officers often took no appropriate actions after acquiring evidence or receiving indications regarding necessary steps.

Newest comments