Health and safety – it’s all in the detail

DateJan 25, 2021
AuthorCeri Sansom

Health and safety in a site investigation is a key part of the design and provision of any type of ground investigation, be it geotechnical or contaminated land assessment. The standard text to help determine what the appropriate provision for personnel has been provided for many years by the British Drillers Association (BDA), with the most recent version being published in 2008. Sites are designated Red, Amber, Green on the basis of the presence of chemicals with certain harmful characteristics. These characteristics include, corrosive, acidic, or carcinogenic, chemicals, that cause skin irritation or respiratory problems, affect the nervous system and affect the organs. What it does not provide for is the effect of the actual concentrations of these chemicals that ground investigation staff might be exposed to for the scope of the project they are intending to undertake.

The AGS has sought to raise this point in its most recent publication ‘Guidance on Dealing with Contaminated Land During a Ground Investigation’ 2020 and supporting comments. It makes the case that health and safety provision is often chicken and egg as in our industry the ground investigation is intended to determine this very thing. As a result the AGS identifies the need for good quality risk assessment including a detailed desk study supported with good quality mapping and, where possible, a site inspection. There are benefits to be had for a clear understanding of where operations with a high risk of contamination have been performed on site so that the appropriate level of provision can be made making life easier on site and managing costs. 

Commercial Manager, George Burdon, comments:

To protect your staff and reduce risk of spreading hazardous material, Groundsure can assist you with the detail and a portfolio view.

We can give you great detail with our Historical Land Use Database, high quality historical mapping, and granular detail of operations on site with our Fire Insurance Plans (Goad mapping)  allowing you to refine your assessments.

Alternatively, for multiple sites, we can help you cost effectively forecast which sites in a portfolio may need red or amber health and safety measures or are more likely to need provision for hazardous arisings. It’s ideal at the bid stage to avoid unplanned for costs. This has been used by clients for utility repairs and multiple small installations across a region. We do this with our PERS (Preliminary Environmental Risk Screening) tool that can assess large numbers of sites with ease. In Groundsure’s 20 years’ experience, we have found that using tools like ours to gain a stronger understanding of a site before attempting to initiate any works, lowers the risk of additional costs and stoppages once ground has been broken.