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Managing Risk in Construction

Blindfold chess is played by a strong player without being able to see the chess board. The player sits with his/her back to the chess board and calls out the moves (I presume), or wears a blindfold. Blindfold chess is not a recommended method to managing risk…

However, playing chess and managing risk have a lot in common. In chess, the player uses strategy as an overall campaign plan, which may involve complex operational patterns, activity, and decision-making that lead to tactical execution. Risk management is designed to plan, monitor, control and prevent exposure to risk. To do this it is necessary to identify the hazard, assess the extent of the risk, provide measures to control the risk and manage any residual risks.

A health and safety nightmare

Put simply, the construction industry is a health and safety nightmare – almost every conceivable hazard exists within this constantly changing working environment. And it’s not only a nightmare, it’s a costly nightmare in terms of fines, and more importantly lives.

A new guide,  Managing risks in existing buildings, aimed at building owners and/or users, looks at the issues to consider and the techniques and information sources available to improve the management of risks in commercial and industrial buildings. Written in a very practical and clear way, this guide explains how to avoid  business losses, improve insurance premiums and safeguard staff.

Contaminated land

BRE Global risk expert Steve Manchester is the author of Managing risks in existing buildingsHe recommends a structured and holistic approach to undertaking risk assessments. This approach can lead to cost savings and improved outcomes compared with a piecemeal approach where each area is addressed as a single entity. Steve analyses specific hazards for each key area of risk: fire, explosion, asbestos, legionella, radon, noise, vibration, flooding, contaminated land and environmental risks. Each hazard is split into sub-sections.

There is a lot packed into this guide – a lot of bang for your buck (pardon the pun).

Find out more about Steve’s guide here.

Buncefield explosion – Britain’s £1 billion disaster

Steve highlights the Buncefield explosion as an example of the implications of risk management gone wrong.

On the night of Saturday 10 December 2005, Tank 912 at the Hertfordshire Oil Storage Limited (HOSL) part of the Buncefield oil storage depot in Hemel Hempstead was filling with petrol. A tank gauge stuck (which was meant to close down operations automatically if the tank was overfilled) and large quantities of petrol overflowed from the top of the tank. A vapour cloud formed which ignited causing a massive explosion. The fire lasted five days. The total cost of the Buncefield incident is estimated to be more than £1 billion.

Watch this video about the Buncefield explosion (copyright BBC).