Temporary works include short-term building projects, building maintenance, renovation, demolition and excavation works. Temporary works can be very minor, short-duration work such as painting and decorating a small office, repairing damage to coping stones on top of a brick wall, or excavation of a shallow trench to give access to buried telephone wires, etc.
They can also include major construction projects such as the construction of a large extension to a distribution depot, demolition of a derelict building on factory premises, or major refurbishment works to both the exterior and interior of a 100-year-old civic building.
The hazards associated with these temporary works will, of course, vary depending on the nature of the works themselves. These might include:
- Hazards associated with the work environment (such as extreme outdoor temperatures).
- Hazards associated with safe movement through the temporary work site (such as slips, trips, and falls).
- Working at height (such as falls from height and falling objects).
- Vehicle hazards (such as vehicle overturn).
- Manual handling (such as the lifting of components during maintenance activities).
- Lifting operation hazards (such as the collapse of a mobile crane).
- Tools and equipment hazards (such as mechanical hazards).
- Fire hazards associated with work activities (such as cutting and grindings) and flammable liquid and gas use (such as propane).
- Excavations (such as the collapse of the excavation).
- Demolition hazards (such as the premature collapse of structures).
- Chemical and biological hazards (such as asbestos disturbed during refurbishment works).
- Noise and vibration hazards (such as those generated by machinery such as a disc cutter).
In short, temporary works can include all of the hazards that are the subject of the GC2 course and are characterized in this textbook.
These hazards can present a risk to the workers engaged in the temporary works. These workers may be contractors working for an external employer engaged to undertake the work (such as a building company engaged by a client to undertake construction work). They may be in-house employees (such as the employer’s own in-house building maintenance team). The workers will often be a mixture of in-house employees working alongside external contractors.
Very importantly, the hazards of temporary works can also present a risk to others who are working in the workplace when the work is underway and those who might be visiting or passing through or by the work area.
For example, external lamp cleaning and maintenance work were undertaken by external contractors at a leisure center run by a local council could potentially present the risk to:
- The contractor workers themselves.
- Leisure center staff.
- Leisure center customers (including children, the elderly and the disabled).
- Members of the public passing by outside the site.
The establishment of a temporary work site within an existing work can disrupt the ‘usual’ control measures that will already exist within that workplace. Again the disruption caused will depend very much on the nature of the existing work and the nature of the temporary works. Examples would include:
- Disruption to the one-way system of an on-site vehicle traffic route caused by emergency drain repair works to part of the traffic route.
- Isolation of part of an automatic fire detection system because of hot works in one part of a multi-story building.
- Closure of a fire escape route because of refurbishment works to the corridor and stairway that forms a part of the escape route.