Since September 11, 2001, Homeland Security and Critical Infrastructure Projects have increased in magnitude and scope while their schedules have been compressed. This discussion will address the complex occupational safety and health issues that have been thrust upon the workforce, and describe a multi-step approach that has been taken to promote the safety and health of employees, while increasing productivity and reducing workplace incidents.
The increased focus on security in the post-September 11 period has forced numerous agencies and organizations to assess their security and make plans to protect their human and physical assets. This challenge has typically included resource and budget limitations. What has resulted is an increase in Homeland Security and Critical Infrastructure projects that require a quick response to existing conditions and accelerated schedules for the implementation of integrated security systems that include Access Control, Intrusion Detection, CCTV, Command and Control Centers, Barriers, Blast Protections and other means of protection. Accordingly, employees have been presented with work conditions that contain numerous hazards and risks and must be provided with the appropriate protection mechanisms. A sound, systematic multi-step approach that includes risk assessment, employee empowerment, audits and above all open communications, has been shown to work.
There are a variety of safety and health hazards that exist in Homeland Security and Critical Infrastructure projects. Many of these tasks are short duration and typically involve unique hazards. Project work includes rooftop installation and repair,, confined spaces (usually PRCS), use of aerial lifts, trenching work, fencing jobs, work in switch yards, and work in areas thatcontain bio-hazards. Work in classified locations is usually limited to identified and qualified project staff. Work on such project requires quick response and turnaround time. Therefore, welltrained, properly equipped workers who make use of the following 'Ten Commandments of Worker Protection for Security and Infrastructure Projects' will yield benefits to themselves and their organization. These analytical tools, techniques and methodologies, and proven project approaches will result in increased worker safety and health.
Every project should develop and use an activity-based, hazard/risk matrix to quantify the potential hazards facing your employees. The matrix identifies major employee risk and compliance issues. Each major issue has follow-on questions that further quantify the risks and indicate the subsequent required protective measures. An example of this technique is illustrated below.
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The matrix has additional major components including: Personal Protective Equipment, Electrical Work Hazards, Emergency Evacuations, Noise Exposure, Stored Hazardous Energy, Respiratory Protection, Confined Spaces, Welding (Hot work) activities, Fall Hazards, Scaffolds, Trenching/Excavations, Demolitions, Personnel Aerial Lifts, Cranes, Hazardous Waste, Special Hazardous Facilities, and Hazards associated with High-Risk Natural Disasters. The use of the Hazard/Risk Matrix and the involvement of managers and employees in the initial assessments results in upfront hazard recognition and issue response provides a path forward for increased worker safety and health.