Risk Evaluation Event in Civil Engineering

Risk Evaluation Event Final Paper

Risk sources determine the performance of projects in terms of cost, time, and quality, either positively or negatively. The sources are classified based on their nature ranging from environmental, physical, logistics, financial, design, political, legal to operation and construction risks. It is worth noting that unlike many other industries, the construction industry experiences more risks because of the unique features that characterize construction activities. The features include complicated processes, long period, financial intensity, dynamic organizational structures, and abominable environment. In this project agenda, three individual risk management evaluations based on current construction events and risks in the construction industry are discussed.

Highway Road Construction Potential Risks

There have been many accidents during major highways’ constructions, particularly, the I-20, I-65, and I-59 roads. The accidents might happen due to vague signs, poor conditions of roads, and blurred lines. Common road signs in the United States include Left Turn Ahead, Left Reverse Turn Ahead, Right Curve Ahead, Sharp Curve to Right, Winding Road Left Ahead, Hairpin Curve Ahead, T-Intersection Ahead, Side Road, Added Lane, Two Way Traffic, Yield Ahead, Signal Ahead, Stop Ahead, Road Work Ahead, Exit Closed, Slow Traffic Ahead, and Road Work Ahead among other signs. Highway construction zones are considered dangerous for drivers.

Risk Identification and Analysis

On highway l-20 West near Tuscaloosa/l-59 South around mile marker 75-79, the road has been under construction for many years with its surface being uneven and curved with many bumps; besides, the lines on the surface are not clear.

Often, roadwork zones in highways stop or slow traffic, have lanes that are narrowed, may require cars to change or merge lanes, include uneven pavement, as well as other health hazards, which can cause accidents due to collision (Pajcic 1). Motorists may cause accidents in highway work zones, because of improper passing, distracted driving, and misdirection of a vehicle by construction workers. Not properly warning systems of potential dangers have caused many accidents. Indeed, when road signage is hidden, missing, or plain wrong, then serious accidents may happen because a driver can panic, freeze up, and eventually make rash decisions; it is possible to avoid accidents if signage is properly posted (Banaitiene and Banaitis 435).

Poor road conditions are characterized by the presence of potholes, ice patches, shoulder drop-off, oil and chip, slick roads, and construction work zones. Undoubtedly, poorly maintained roads may cause accidents in some ways, especially because they create significant hazards to drivers. Usually, a driver attempts to avoid a situation, such as a pooling water or pothole, which could result in a severe accident due to collision with other motorists or car rollover. Sometimes, maneuvers by drivers are negligently done resulting in injury to other road users. Other unsafe road conditions include signs that have fallen and cannot be seen due to overgrown foliage, absence of rumble strips, and construction materials placed in a way that obstruct drivers’ vision.

Road surface markings, specifically, lines on roads provide convey important official information. Such markings can be used on paved roadways to show parking spaces. Uniform marking minimizes confusion and doubt about what they mean. A driver who does not know the full length of a white line on a dual carriage or single carriage road, because the lines are erased or are completely worn out may use his own judgment to create an invisible lane. Such an undertaking may be fatal if there is an oncoming vehicle.

Stakeholder Analysis

Road construction workers are critical in maintaining, repairing, and improving highways. Notably, the sections of roads where work is in progress may be associated with many hazards as well as auto accidents. Construction workers are at risk of injuries due to collisions that happen in work zones. It is very dangerous to work in construction zones where traffic is passing directly next to workers. There have been many reports of workers dying every year in construction work zones, because of drivers’ negligence who are passing through work zones (Banaitiene and Banaitis 437). Negligent behaviors by drivers may include improper passing, drunk-driving, diving in closed lanes, speeding, not following the instructions or directions of workers or signs directing traffic, and texting, which causes distracted driving. All these practices increase the chances of accidents occurring during road construction.

Alabama Department of Transport (DOT) is responsible for the construction, standardization, maintenance as well as repair roads and bridges all over Alabama. Alabama DOT also collects information and prepares statistics comparative to the mileage, condition and character of bridges and roads in the state. The department is expected to ensure safe, efficient as well as environmentally appropriate intermodal transportation. In its planning, the department develops long-term, statewide transportation and improvement plans. In highway and bridge development projects, the department is mandated to come up with feasible location by undertaking corridor studies, which balance engineering solutions with the environmental impacts and cost. The final design of a highway or a bridge is always an engineering task, featuring economical design that is not only adequate but also safe for the public and does not require a lot of maintenance. Importantly, the Alabama DOT is required to test and approve highway and bridge construction materials before using them. Among the materials that the department must test are asphalt, bitumen, concrete aggregate, soil physical and chemical components. Eventually, the failure to conduct appropriate tests on the materials to ensure they meet the set specifications may lead to bad roads.

A contractor is responsible for the overall supervision of road design and preparing complete construction and reconstruction specifications, such as design standards, computing quantities and laying grades of materials, as well as estimate pavement designs. A contractor assigns equipment needed to perform construction work and ensure testing and procedure inspection. Furthermore, a contractor is required to inspect structural condition of the highway to make sure that the road meets the Federal guidelines. Apparently, a contractor that fails to adhere to the guidelines on highway construction standards is likely to construct a road that develops potholes after a short duration or a road that has vague lines, and such roads are accident-prone.

Risk Mitigation Strategies

First, it is important to put more road signs to get the attention of drivers. Signs can warn a driver about what lies ahead on the road and helps him/her to adjust appropriately.

Second, drivers must lower speed, but this would be better achieved if there are signs indicating speed limits within certain sections of the road. Limiting speed to between 50 and 65 kilometers per hour on some sections of the highway would be a good idea, particularly, in the areas that have been identified as accident-prone.
Third, putting a sheriff on duty would be a good idea of catching traffic offenders. Similarly, lights on is also a good idea for directing the traffic, especially, in areas where there are no sheriffs.

Finally, a route detour or an emergency diversion can be put in place temporarily, particularly, near construction zones as a part of incident management. Detours would be vital in cases where roads are impassable or chances of traffic collision are high.

Lessons Learned

To reduce the risks associated with road construction, roads must be clearly secured using appropriate signage. Besides, temporary diversions would be reasonable to avoid traffic collisions.
Sharp curves must be avoided in highways, because they increase the chance of collision. Similarly, uneven road surfaces should be avoided, because they can confuse motorists who, while trying to negotiate, may end up causing accidents.

Escalator/Elevator Potential Risks

Elevators and escalators are considered a convenient and, when used carefully, relatively safe way to travel from one building floor to another. Nonetheless, they are not without serious risks. The tragedies of elevators/escalators are a result of long skirt being dragged into escalator, or their speed can be too fast for the elderly, resulting in people easily falling down. Knowing the potential risks to watch out for in elevators/escalators and taking safety precautions are helpful in keeping people free from harm.

Risk Identification and Analysis

The seam crossing of an elevator drags people’s long clothes into escalator, thereby causing injuries or even death. Indeed, it can become worse if a person’s clothing is trapped at the bottom or top of an escalator or between a stair and escalator sidewall. It is because such occurrences may lead to being caught in or between an escalator and possible injuries including those of the head. When an item is caught in the moving elevator, it quickly gets sucked in with great force. The aftermath of such occurrences may include people losing their fingers or tosses. Furthermore, protruding screws from elevators and escalators have been reported to rip clothing items triggering a fall (“Elevator and Escalator Maintenance and Safety Practices” 124). Missing grips in the grates at the entrance or an exit of an escalator can be attributed to falls, especially, if shoelaces or clothing articles are caught. There are many cases of hands and feet of children getting trapped and the trapping of clothing at the top or bottom of an escalator as well as in the gaps between moving stairs or sidewalls raise the question of whether escalators and elevators are adjusted properly (Liumin and Wenwei 39).

Stakeholder Analysis

Escalator maintenance workers should continually examine the machines to ensure that they are functioning well. Maintenance workforce needs to involve individuals who are on biomechanics and engineering experts. Such individuals can determine if it is the escalator and not the rider that caused the fall. Besides, experts can reveal the problem and the proper maintenance that is required to fix the machine.

It is appalling that by escalator maintenance companies that do not use simple and legally permitted safety features cause many injuries due to entrapment. For instance, escalators in the United States are required to have a comb plate place across the top. Unfortunately, proprietor owners or maintenance companies of escalators fail to install them, or in some instances, a comb falls off, and a maintenance company fails to bring a replacement. Additionally, there have been technological improvements, which can help to prevent entrapment injuries completely. Unfortunately, escalator maintenance companies have failed to install such technologies, because they do not find it easy to pay the modest costs. For instance, there is comb plate impact switches, which are able to stop the escalator, should be an object caught underneath the plate. Similarly, handrail inlet switches can stop the escalator in case something is caught at the end of the handrail. Finally, deflector brushes that run along the sides of the skirt board can keep bags, garments, and shoelaces being trapped as the escalator travels upwards. Undoubtedly, these inexpensive technologies can radically reduce injuries due to entrapment.

The state of quality inspection has been wanting in most cases, because they are not regularly performed, and whenever they are conducted, inspectors have not revealed the problem with the escalator. Aging elevators may lack inspection and maintenance records while others do not have safety features required to build an elevator. The quality inspection department needs to ensure strict adherence to the safety code for escalators and elevators (“Elevator and Escalator Maintenance and Safety Practices” 68). The safety code from the safety department offers important guidelines on installation requirements, maintenance as well as tests for existing equipment. Therefore, stricter enforcement of the code could be lacking.

Risk Mitigation

There are many types of elevator signs such as those that indicate the location of the room and notice of height. The signs act as safety reminders, and when put ahead, signs can deter users from getting close to or touching perceived risky parts or areas.

Minimizing or closing the gap between an escalator or an elevator can be helpful in reducing the possibility of entrapment. The gaps need to be continually examined to ensure that they are wide and can cause catch garments.
The use of one long belt instead of edged steps is recommendable as an additional measure to minimize entrapment. It is unlikely that a belt can catch garments of individual users. Besides, belts when used properly cannot cause falls.

A removable escalator that also has a detachable lid can save people from being dragged. In this way, serious injuries are unlikely to be incurred. Having a removable escalator in place can be helpful where an individual is stuck while a detachable lead can help an individual from the inside of closed equipment.
An emergency stop button that is easily accessible, for instance, in the middle of the escalator is a good mitigation strategy. Users can readily reach and press the emergency button to stop the machine from moving. This would be helpful where an individual has been trapped and faces impending danger such as strangulation.

Lessons Learned

I have learnt that regular maintenance of elevators/escalators is important in the identification and correction of faults in machines. Strict measures should remain in place to ensure that maintenance companies always check machines. Machines taking a long time maintenance predispose users to injuries.

Several emergency stop buttons in the middle of an escalator can improve safety of users. During emergencies, individuals can reach to the buttons in the middle of an escalator and stop the equipment to avoid more injuries or harm.

First aiders are critical because they can readily serve those that have been involved in accidents. First-aid teams should always be on duty, because it is impossible to predetermine when accidents will take place.

Operator Machine Shock Vibration Potential Risks

Machines oscillate because of external and internal forces, which are transmitted to the bodies of workers when in contact with the vibrating surfaces. Operators in companies such as John Deere, Caterpillar, or any other companies that manufacture equipment may fall down in the cabin, for instance, due to vibration.

Risk Identification and Analysis

Machine operators may be at higher risks of getting injured when sitting in the cabin area because of the strong vibrations when operating the equipment. There are various types of vibrations, for instance, the hand-arm vibration occurs when vibration is transmitted through handles via the palms, fingers into the hands and eventually arms. There is also the whole-body vibration that occurs when machines transmit vibrations through the feet, buttocks and the body. These vibrations are common with excavators, caterpillars, wheel loaders, scrapers, graders, forklift trucks, and site dumpers (Qian and Lin 425). In the course of working with these machines, operators may fall causing injuries. Falls occur from heights, falling objects that are caused by displacement or collapse, falling loose objects or objects materials, crashing into mobile objects, and flying objects. Shocks from faulty equipment are likely to cause severe and permanent injury. Besides, there can be indirect injuries due to falls from scaffolds, ladders, as well as other platforms of work.

Stakeholder Analysis

Operator workers can be exposed to numerous dangers if machinery is not maintained, guarded or even used properly. Importantly, people who work with machines should be properly trained by employers. Training needs to focus on how to work with machines correctly and must have safety wear for protection while working with machines. Wearing loose or ill-fitting protective gear or wearing jewelry, for instance, bracelets, rings, or necklaces that can be caught on the moving parts of a machine can be dangerous. Furthermore, lack of experience and complacency while working with machines are important aspects that machine operators cannot ignore if they want to ensure their security (Qian and Lin 428).

An equipment and machine company are responsible for providing initial training on the use of the machine. The company can send one of their representatives while delivering the machine to provide initial training on the best ways of using the machine. Besides, an equipment company should provide a manual that an operator can refer to. This is to ensure that the right procedures are always followed (Wiechel and Scott 5). Moreover, the equipment company should always be contacted when there is a need for repairs to ensure the machines work efficiently and avoid possible injuries.

The risk department is supposed to conduct a risk assessment on the site of work as well as on the machine/equipment. It is important to determine the nature of risk of a particular working site to choose the most appropriate machines to work with on such sites. Apparently, using an inappropriate machine for a given work may increase risk (Wiechel and Scott 6). The role of the risk department is to ensure that the equipment is free from risk. The risk department has to check the whole machine to ensure that the movable parts of the machine and shock absorbers are working effectively.

Risk Mitigation

It is important to add shock absorbers to machines. Absorbers can reduce the impact of the vibrators, which is important for machine operators. Shock absorbers need to be added to the movable parts of a machine.
There is no doubt that it is necessary to secure and protect machine operator. Protection can be enhanced by wearing appropriate protective devices such as helmets, aprons, goggles, and hand gloves. These protective devices can enhance the security of machine operators, particularly, those that are working in risky areas.
Risk can be mitigated by having an emergency button that allows an operator to detach a machine. Having such a button would help in switching off the machine so that it stops vibrating and minimize injuries. The button needs to be conspicuous and has a coloration that the user can easily identify in case of an emergency.

Lesson Learned

I have learned that proper training for machine operators is very critical to minimize injuries. Such training must be conducted strictly to ensure that operators’ safety is guaranteed. Machine operator training needs to be offered by the equipment company apart from the user manual. Training should be done consistently, whenever new machines are introduced.

I have also learned that machines and equipment must always pass their minimum shock parameter. This is important in reducing the impact of injuries that machines are likely to cause whenever there is an accident.
Finally, an emergency stop button or stable support is necessary to the outside of the equipment. The button can be the difference between life and death, particularly, where a machine operator is caught in an accident without anyone around.