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Mon May 17 2021

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Netherlands issues recommendations following site fatality

28 Apr 17 The Dutch Safety Board has issued a series of recommendations following an accident that killed a passer-by on a Royal BAM site.

It is calling for better analysis of the potential for site materials to fall onto adjacent streets to enable safe limits to be set.

The accident happened in May at the former the former building of the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment (VROM) at Rijnstraat 8 in the centre of The Hague.

BAM had been awarded the contract in 2014 (link opens in new tab).

Twenty parts came loose during the hoisting of scaffolding. They fell from a height of over 60m and landed partly outside the building site, in the middle of a pedestrian and bicycle area. A woman who was passing by was hit and died.

As the load was not correctly fastened, a collision with a protruding mast caused it to slide out of the slings and drop down. When the hoisting load was fastened, the builder’s internal arrangements were not followed, said the Dutch Safety Board. Hooking-up was delegated to someone who had not been appointed for this and an unsafe loop was used to fasten  the load. These decisions were the direct cause of the accident and underline the  importance of working safely at a small building site, said the Board.

The Board did not investigate whether the errors made when fastening the hoisting  load are part of a wider safety issue at the building site. In previous investigations the  Board concluded that increased safety awareness and a greater sense of responsibility  are required in the building industry.

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It has stressed the importance of municipalities, contractors and builders of extensive construction projects in busy city cities continually assessing the safety of the environment. On tight construction sites, there is more chance that any accident will also have an effect outside the building fence.  

“The Board recognises that the Municipality of The Hague leads the way when it comes to matters  such as specifying minimum distances between an active crane and the site fence, but  also concludes that these rules provided an insufficient buffer to protect the surrounding  area against the scaffold parts that fell from the crane,” it said. “They fell up to twice as far away as taken into account by the rules.”

It recommends that before starting the tendering process for building projects, relevant  environmental factors should be mapped out and used to formulate a building assignment that is realistic and can be developed safely.

The Board calls on the government to work with the building industry to improve the knowledge of the scale and nature of building risks to the area surrounding a building site. This includes keeping track of features, causes, consequences and the frequency of incidents in a structured manner and publish these details as open data. There should also be investigation of the behaviour of objects that fall from cranes, with the results published in order to set a safety area surrounding  building sites.

It recommends that Royal BAM Group should make concrete arrangements about working safely and check that these arrangements  are understood and observed at the building site.

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