ADPSR recently received a question about worker safety from a member, and ADPSR Board Member Shawn Hesse responded in great detail. We thought it was worth sharing here:
Q: What can architects do to protect workers on the construction sites of their projects? Can construction site operations specifications be written that help to protect them? Finally, is there a Social Responsibilty Index (like LEED for Sustainability) that can help promote this on-site? I am thinking about international projects mostly.
A: This is a great question, and there are many organizations working to develop an answer.
In the US, our specifications are written around the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) workplace safety requirements. You can access the full requirements here. They govern everything from construction to hazardous waste management to hospital workers. Typically, our architectural specifications put the burden of compliance with these regulations onto the contractor, but in some instances, things like fall protection systems are specified and detailed in the design documents.
Other resources exist as well – The International Labour Organization has more than 40 jobsite safety standards, The National Safety Council offers training and educational resources for developing jobsite safety management systems, and the AFL-CIO are all great places to start.
While most of these represents the minimum legal requirements for worker protection, there are other efforts that can be taken. I co-authored a series of social indicators for construction projects (find them here), and you are welcome to use them as a beginning framework. (If you do, I would love to hear your feedback - use the comments below!) There are other programs such as LEED, SEED Network, and Living Building Challenge that are all starting to raise the profile of these types of issues as well.