Cork IT Claim Top Prize in HSA Safety in Undergraduate Construction Competition 2016

A team of students from Cork IT has won the Health and Safety Authority’s annual Safety in Construction competition, aimed at undergraduate teams from construction-related programmes in higher education. At the final, four finalist teams battled it out to win the first prize of Apple iPads. The winning team was captained by Alan Hayes and other members were Anna Pietrzak and Brian Byrd.  A team from Carlow IT won the runners-up prize of €600. The team was captained by Mark Grincell and other team members included Conor Parker and Richard Burke. Other finalist teams were from Carlow IT.

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The aim of the competition is to provide an environment where undergraduate students can collaborate and work together to enhance, develop and embed their knowledge and understanding of safety and health in construction. The competition brief asked students from different disciplines to work together as a team of safety consultants considering key aspects of the inspection, assessment and repair of a Victorian sewer line that runs under a part-pedestrian street.

Various challenges had to be addressed including:  designing a poster to motivate site personnel to work safely, and  positively influence safety on-site using the principles of behavioural- based safety; the selection of reasonably practicable safe work methods to carry out the inspection, damage assessment and repair work to the sewer; control of occupational health hazards and the preparation of a risk assessment and safe system of work for repairs by means of open excavation.

Carlow ITChief Executive of the Health and Safety Authority, Martin O’Halloran congratulated the winners and said: “This competition for construction undergraduates stresses the training and skills required to make the important decisions in planning and managing safe work in this high-risk sector. These decisions can have a life or death impact on others. As more students are set to choose construction-related courses in higher education, with the growth in that sector, it is essential that construction undergraduates get thinking and collaborating on safety before they reach the workplace. By working together to find solutions to safety challenges that they will face as professionals, the competition can help them to keep the construction sites of the future safer places to work in.”

Chairperson of the Authority’s Third Level Education Group, Professor Anne Drummond, from U.C.D. said: “By collaborating on real-life scenarios like this, students can get to grips with the kind of challenges they will face in the construction workplace.  The competition takes a problem-based learning approach and encourages team members to work together from different disciplines in construction-related programmes.  In this way, students learn about risk management in a very hands-on and practical way where they can learn from their peers and can apply theoretical knowledge and principles.”

The judging panel was made up of the following members: Mike McDonagh (Senior Construction Policy Inspector, HSA), Mike Keyes (Aegis Safety, Safety in Design Consultant and Third Level Education Group, HSA) and Kevin Cummins (EHS Manager for John Sisk and Son Ltd).  The competition was further supported by the Construction Safety Partnership, the Construction Advisory Committee of the Authority and the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) who provided finalists with one year free membership.