'Safety in Construction' Governance Code

January 16, 2014

On 16 January, fifteen major players in the construction, infrastructure and electrical and mechanical engineering sector signed the ‘Safety in Construction’ Governance Code, during a meeting attended by Stef Blok (Minister for Housing and the Central Government Sector) and Tjibbe Joustra (Chairman of the Dutch Safety Board). Clients and contractors pledged to work together to improve the safety culture within their own organisations and serve as an example for the entire sector.

This joint initiative was motivated by the accident rates in the sector, both among the companies’ own employees and the users of buildings and structures. These accidents not only occur during work on site, but also after the project has been completed – due to structural flaws, for example.

According to the Inspectorate SZW of the Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, between 2008 and the end of 2011, there were 1,464 accidents among construction sector employees, of which 49 were fatal. Every year, an average of five fatal accidents occur on construction sites, and dozens of people are permanently disabled – after falling from a ladder or scaffolding, for example.

In addition, even after their delivery and acceptance buildings can generate considerable operational and social costs – due to structural flaws that create safety risks, for example, or sub-standard fire safety or the poor monitoring of anti-legionella measures. Many of the buildings and structures completed each year still have safety flaws. According to an estimate made by the Aanpak Bouwincidenten Constructieve Veiligheid (tackling construction incidents structural safety) hotline, every year, a total of some 20,000 structural errors are found in newly-developed buildings and structures (source: Cobouw, 13 December 2011).

Minister Stef Blok for Housing and the Central Government Sector:
"Either you work safely, or you don’t work here at all,’ is the motto of a growing number of sectors, including the chemical and petrochemical industries, the care sector and now construction as well. I applaud this initiative on the part of clients and contractors in the construction, infrastructure and electrical and mechanical engineering sector to further improve the safety culture in their sector, leading to lower accident rates and fewer safety flaws in new developments. By signing the ‘Safety in Construction’ Governance Code, companies show the world that they are taking their responsibility when it comes to creating a safe work environment."

The signatories have committed both to the Governance Code itself and a still-to-be-drawn-up action calendar. By doing so, they aim to improve the sector’s safety culture and performance, strengthen the supply chain and promote standardisation, education and knowledge exchange. They will actively and publicly account for their efforts to improve safety – via their annual reports, for instance, or their company websites.

The 15 signatory parties are: Acta Safety Professionals, AKD lawyers & civil-law notaries, Ballast Nedam, Ministerie van Defensie, Dura Vermeer, Heijmans, KIVI NIRIA, BAM, ProRail, the Government Buildings Agency, Rijkswaterstaat, Strukton, TBI, Unica and VolkerWessels.