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Designing Steel for Construction Safety1

T. Michael Toole, Nicole Hervol and Matthew Hallowell

ABSTRACT
There are signs that the steel industry and the rest of the construction industry have entered a
new era in which structural engineers, steel detailers and other design professionals explicitly
consider the safety of construction workers during the design phase of projects. This paper
summarizes the practical and ethical reasons why designers should consider the design for
construction safety (DfCS) concept, presents practical and specific ways that structural engineers
and steel detailers can design for construction safety, and identifies barriers facing the DfCS
initiative.

INTRODUCTION
Is it possible that the steel industry is entering a new era regarding construction site safety? We
might associate eras in engineering with dramatic increases in the sizes or complexity of our
projects, fundamental changes in the professional tools we use (such as computer-aided analysis
and drafting software, e-mail, etcetera) or changes in the key criteria that underlie our work (such
as increased importance in reducing construction time). Now there are signs that the steel
construction industry may be entering a new era in which an additional aspect of construction
may become one of the key criteria underlying our designs and our daily activitiessite safety.

Structural engineers and steel detailers have not actively managed site safety issues for several
reasons. First, model contracts, such as those promulgated by ASCE through the Engineers Joint
Contracts Documents Committee, clearly state designers have no responsibilities for means and
methods or the safety of construction workers. The OSHA standards also support this position
by clearly ascribing primary safety responsibility for construction workers to their employers
(Toole 2004). Another reason is that engineers rarely receive safety training (Gambatese 2003a).

Our detachment from site safety has persisted despite the fact that engineers are spending more
time on job sites as representatives of the owner or as part of a design-build or construction
management team. U.S. researchers and practitioners have demonstrated how design decisions
affect construction safety and have called for designers to consider site safety issues during the
planning and design stages of a project (Gambatese 2000; Gambatese Behm and Hinze 2005).
Moreover, UK design engineers have been required by law over the past ten years to explicitly
address worker safety in their designs (Toole 2004). More recently, the American Society of
Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the Construction Institute (CI) entered into a formal alliance with
OSHA intended to, among other things, improve construction worker safety. One major project
members of ASCE-CI have been working on is an initiative to encourage and enable design
professionals to design for construction safety.

1
Presented at the North American Steel Construction conference, San Antonio, TX, February 8-11, 2006.

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This paper introduces the design for construction safety (DfCS) concept, summarizes the
practical and ethical reasons why designers should consider this initiative, presents practical,
specific ways that structural engineers and steel detailers can design for construction safety, and
identifies barriers facing the DfCS initiative.

WHAT IS DESIGNING FOR CONSTRUCTION SAFETY


DfCS represents a change from custom and practice whereby the design professional, and often
the project owner/client, become involved in facilitating construction site safety at the earliest
stages of a projects life cycle. DfCS is defined as the deliberate consideration of construction
site safety in the design phase of a construction project, with the goal of reducing inherent risk to
construction workers. Many readers are familiar with the term constructability, which usually
refers to the idea of incorporating construction expertise into the design process to ensure the
design is cost-effective and buildable. Designing for construction safety can be viewed as
ensuring the constructability review includes the safety aspects of the project, making design
decisions based in part on how construction worker safety may be affected.

It is important to note that the designing for construction safety concept applies only to the
design of the permanent facility, that is, to the aspects of the completed building that make a
project inherently safer to build. The DfCS initiative does not focus on how to make different
methods of construction engineering safer. For example, it does not focus on how to use fall
protection systems, but it does include consideration of design decisions that influence how often
fall protection will be needed. Similarly, DfCS does not address how to erect safe scaffolding,
but it does relate to design decisions that influence the location and type of scaffolding needed to
accomplish the work. Design professionals (i.e., architects and design engineers) and steel
detailers are able to affect construction safety in these and many other areas.

WHY DESIGN FOR CONSTRUCTION SAFETY


Unfortunately, as many of us know, construction is one of the most dangerous industries in
which to work. In the U.S., construction typically accounts for just under 200,000 serious
injuries and 1200 deaths each year. The fatality rate is disproportionally high for the size of the
construction workforce. But statistics like these do not tell the whole story. Behind every
serious injury, there is a real story of an individual who suffered serious pain and may never fully
recover. Behind every fatality, there are spouses, children and parents who grieve every day for
their loss.

Because we all recognize that construction is an inherently dangerous business, all of us must do
what we can to reduce the risk of injuries on the projects we are involved in. Although typical
contract terms clearly state that designers are not responsible for the safety of construction
workers, nearly all designers would feel an ethical obligation to take action to prevent a serious
injury to a construction worker if the hazard was imminent and obvious to the designer.
Shouldnt designers feel a similar ethical obligation to take reasonable actions to prevent injuries
that are not as imminent or obvious?

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Professional Ethics and Laws
What designers should and should not do are typically addressed in their professional code of
ethics. Indeed, the code of ethics of several national engineering associations includes text that
seems relevant to the DfCS concept. For example, the National Association of Professional
Engineers state in their code of ethics, Engineers shall hold paramount the safety, health, and
welfare of the public. The American Society of Civil Engineers Code of Ethics has the same
statement and goes onto say:
Engineers shall recognize that the lives, safety, health and welfare of the general public
are dependent upon engineering judgments, decisions and practices incorporated into
structures, machines, products, processes and devices.

If construction workers are considered part of the public, civil engineers code of ethics
mandates designing for safety. However, engineers traditionally do not include construction
workers in their definition of the public.

In addition to their code of ethics, the American Society of Civil Engineers also has an official
policy statement (number 350) that explicitly addresses site safety. Two excerpts from this
policy are directly relevant to the DfCS concept:
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) believes improving construction site
safety requires attention and commitment from all parties involved. Effective
improvements in construction site safety can be achieved through a committed,
cooperative relationship between owners, contractors, subcontractors, construction
managers, safety professionals, construction workers, labor unions, designers, regulatory
agencies, associations, institutes, academia, and legal and insurance professionals.

Engineers have responsibility for: Recognizing that safety and constructability are
important considerations when preparing construction plans and specifications.

Americans generally consider themselves ahead of the rest of the world with regards to
managing the safety of workers, but in designing for construction safety, the U.S. is lagging.
Australia and several countries in Europe have had DfCS-related laws and/or initiatives for
several years. The United Kingdom passed into law the Construction Design and Management
Regulations (CDM), which became effective in 1995. Other European countries have since
followed with similar regulations. The CDM regulations place requirements for addressing
construction worker safety and health on design professionals. The crux of the CDM regulations
affecting the design profession is that they place a duty on the designer to ensure that any design
avoids unnecessary foreseeable risks to construction workers. Two specific examples from the
CDM text are:
Designers shall ensure that any designincludes among the design considerations
adequate regard to the need (i) to avoid foreseeable risks to the health and safety of any
person at work carrying out construction work. and
The design shall include adequate information about any aspect of the project or
structure or materials which might affect the health and safety of any person at work
carrying out construction work.

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Practical Benefits
Perhaps even more compelling than the ethical issues involved is the fact that designing for
construction safety results in practical and substantial benefits to all parties involved in a
construction project. A project that has been designed for safety is inherently less hazardous
than projects associated with typical design processes, which both increases productivity and
reduces workers compensation premiums. This results in cost savings for both contractors and
owners, especially on projects with owner-controlled insurance programs. DfCS projects can
often be completed faster because safety-related delays are reduced or eliminated.

Because DfCS results in a host of practical benefits to owners and developers, progressive clients
are increasingly seeking design professionals who are experienced in or willing to incorporate
DfCS into their projects. Designers who perform DfCS can use this fact to market themselves as
progressive, team-oriented professionals. Furthermore, designers who are part of design-build
teams should benefit financially from the reduced accident rates experienced during construction.

One of the reasons that the DfCS concept is so compelling is that all safety professionals know
that it is much more effective to design safety into a process than it is to try to manage safety
within a process that is inherently unsafe. Figure 1 shows that by including construction site
safety as a consideration (along with production, quality, project scope, etc.) early in the
projects life cycle, one has a greater ability to positively influence construction site safety than if
planning for construction site safety is not considered until just before construction begins.

The idea that decisions by design professionals do influence jobsite safety is not an unproven
concept. Various researchers have show that design can influence construction site safety, both
positively and negatively. For example, a 1996 paper by Professor John Smallwood showed that
50% of general contractors interviewed identified poor design features as affecting safety. A
European study published in 1991 found that 60% of accidents studied could have been
eliminated or reduced with more thought during design (European Foundation 1991).
Researchers in the UK found that design changes would have reduced likelihood of 47% of 100
construction accidents studied (Gibb et al 2004). An American researcher found that design was
linked to accidents in approximately 22% of 226 injury incidents in OR, WA and CA and to 42%
of 224 fatality incidents between 1990 and 2003 (Behm 2004).
High
Conceptual Design

Detailed Engineering

Ability to Procurement
Influence
Safety Construction

Start-up
Low

Project Schedule
Figure 1: Decreasing ability to influence safety (Szymberski 1997).

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HOW TO DESIGN FOR CONSTRUCTION SAFETY
Figure 2 depicts the typical DfCS process. The key component of the process is the
incorporation of site safety knowledge into design decisions. This point raises two important
issues, one of which is how the required safety expertise will be obtained. Because few design
professionals possess the site safety expertise necessary to perform effective design for
construction safety (a point discussed in the Barriers section of this article), site safety expertise
will likely need to be provided by trade contractors or an outside site safety consultant. Ideally,
large design firms will eventually have in-house employees who possess the required knowledge.
In the future, perhaps state and federal OSHA employees may provide such expertise, but it is
the authors opinions that OSHA employees are neither willing nor capable of providing such
expertise now.

Figure 2: A Typical Design for Construction Safety Process (Gambatese 2003b)

Another way of securing safety knowledge is through the use of DfCS tools that have been
developed by researchers and government bodies. Safety researchers sponsored by the
Construction Industry Institute (CII) developed over 400 design suggestions that could be used
by design professionals to minimize or eliminate safety hazards in their designs (Gambatese
Hinze and Haas 1997). These design practices were incorporated into a computer design tool
titled Design for Construction Safety Toolbox, which can be purchased from the CII
(www.construction-institute.org/scriptcontent/more/rr101_11_more.cfm).

The Health and Safety Executive in the United Kingdom (the equivalent to the USOSHA) has
developed several documents that help designers comply with the requirement that they design
for construction safety. These documents are available free of charge at
http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/designers/index.htm. Safety professionals in Australia have

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created a tool called Construction Hazard Assessment Implication Review (CHAIR). CHAIR
specifies that all stakeholders review the design in a prescribed manner to ensure the safety and
health of all stakeholders are considered in the design. Information on the CHAIR process can
be downloaded free of charge from
www.workcover.nsw.gov.au/Publications/OHS/SafetyGuides/chairsafetyindesigntool.htm.
(Links to all of these pages are available through www.designforconstructionsafety.org.)

A second important issue for the DfCS process is when the required site safety expertise will be
provided. Ideally site safety expertise will be provided throughout the design process to ensure
that safety considerations are never an afterthought. Given the fact that design firms will likely
require the services of outside firms, however, it will be more practical to have safety
constructability knowledge provided through several progress reviews.

One question that sometimes is raised is whether the work product of a DfCS project looks
different from that on standard projects. For now, the answer is no; that is, drawings and
technical specifications on DfCS projects will likely at least initially look the same as typical
construction documents, but they will reflect an inherently safer construction process.
Eventually, as industry professionals gain experience and insight, it is hoped that construction
documents resulting from a DfCS process will include safety enhancing details and notes that are
not currently found on standard plans and specifications.

DESIGNING FOR STEEL CONSTRUCTION SAFETY


With the increasing popularity of design-build (DB) contracts, contractors, detailers, fabricators,
and erectors have experienced more visible roles in the early stages of project development.
Their roles often include providing constructability input and more accurate cost estimates,
decreasing overall costs, increasing project speed, increasing coordination and providing less risk
to the owner (Teamwork 2002). Although DB and fast-track projects more readily facilitate
DfCS principles by increasing cooperation between various entities involved in the design and
construction processes, DfCS can be applied to traditional linear project delivery methods as
well.

The two general areas of steel design and detailing that can be positively impacted by the
application of DfCS principles are site and building layout and connection layout, design and
detailing.

Site and Building Layout Issues


As stated earlier, the earlier safety is considered within a project life cycle, the greater the
potential for influencing project safety. Reducing the hazards associated with working at heights
is one area where DfCS can make a lot of difference. On a broad level, the use of prefabricated
components reduces the number of activities that must be performed above the ground and
therefore reduces the risk of fall-related injuries. For example, prefabricated steel stairs and
panelized joist assemblies are common on building projects and prefabricated bridge segments
are possible on infrastructure projects. Prefabrication can occur on site by site workers or off-
site by specialty vendors. Because prefabricated components are typically lifted into place by

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cranes, designers must consider horizontal and vertical space needs when making site layout
decisions.

Facilitating safe crane operation should be part of the DfCS process regardless of whether
prefabricated wall panels are used. Cranes are used to erect structural steel, place large HVAC
components, stage materials within the building and perform many other tasks. While crane
safety is the responsibility of the operator, design professionals can facilitate safe operations by
considering whether the site design provides the necessary bearing capacities, sufficient
proximity to the building to prevent excessively long load radii, and vertical space that is clear of
power lines and other obstructions.

Another area where structural designers can influence the safety of the project is to consider the
placement of openings in the roof or floor slabs. Adequate supports may be positioned under
decking near openings (SEAA and NISD 2001). Openings for roof skylights may be located
away from readily accessed areas on the construction site to prevent falls or to prevent drop
hazards from elevated work spaces. Specific additional suggestions for skylights include
designing permanent guardrails to be installed around skylights or designing the skylight to be
installed on a raised curb (Gambatese Hinze and Haas 1997).

The previous examples did not affect the appearance or performance of the completed structure.
Another set of potential DfCS decisions do result in a final design that is slightly different than
what might have resulted had DfCS not occurred, but only those changes that do not unduly
compromise the aesthetics or performance of the completed structure should be pursued. One
example is including a parapet roof that is at least 39 in. high and preferably 42 high per OSHA
standards. Such roofs serve to eliminate the need for additional guardrails during roofing and
rooftop HVAC appliance installation and prevent the need for fall protection during future
maintenance. Another example is designing upper story windows to be at least 39 in. above the
floor level. Having the window sill at this height allows it to function as a guardrail during
construction.

Another broad-level principle is maintaining a consistent floor layout throughout the building.
This not only promotes efficient production but also gives workers the opportunity to have
thorough knowledge of the hazards present on each floor. It is acknowledged, however, that
architectural concerns, room layout needs and mechanical systems often limit the extent to which
this principle can be applied.

Connection Layout and Design


OSHA mandates that many safety hazards be considered and remediated throughout the planning
and construction phases. Although the ultimate responsibility for safety resides in the employer
per OSHA guidelines, there are many aspects of connection design that structural engineers and
detailers can influence to reduce the inherent risk of a project. Many of the items presented
below have been adopted from The Detailing Guide for the Enhancement of Erection Safety
Guide (SEAA and NISD 2001) mentioned earlier. Some of these items are mandated in the
federal OSHA steel erection regulations (29 CFR 1926, Subpart R).

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1. The Erector Friendly Column: See Figure 3. Suggestions for various aspects of safety
and constructability are included, such as holes for tie lines 21 and 42 above each floor
slab, safety seats for beam connections, markings for orientation, and secure connections
and anchoring system. (NISD/SEAA 2001, Sketch S1a/c)
2. Beam Marking Systems: A clear and consistent beam marking system can be established
to help workers orient themselves to hazards in certain sections of the structure and
increase erection speed (AISC 2002). See Figure 4 for an example of a possible beam
marking system (NISD/SEAA 2001, Sketch A3a/b).
3. Shop welding: Where possible, specify shop welded connections instead of bolts or field
welds to avoid dangerous or awkward positions for the welder or connector. See Figure 5
for example (NISD/SEAA 2001, Sketch S8).
4. Dummy hole: For bolted beam connections, provide an extra, dummy hole in which a
spud wrench or other object can be inserted to provide continual support for the beam
during installation of the bolts (Construction Industry Institute 1997).
5. Column Connections: A minimum of 4 (and in many cases, much more than 4) anchor
rods must be used to secure columns in order to prevent movement and remove the need
for temporary bracing during placement. See Figure 6 (NISD/SEAA 2001, Sketch M4).
6. Access for Connections: In small (short-webbed) columns, flanges can inhibit access to
connections for construction purposes. Plates and bolts can be placed as in Figures 7, 8,
and 9 in order to provide more accessible designs (NISD/SEAA 2001 ,Sketch S2a/c
through S2c/c).
7. Placement of Members: Hands or clothes can be caught in tight spaces when
constructing connections, especially near walls; another prevalent hazard is puncture
wounds on sharp corners when not hidden by bracing connections. See Figures 10, 11,
and 12 (NISD/SEAA 2001, Sketch S3 through S4b/b).
8. Self Supporting Connections: Avoid hanging connections; design to bear on columns
instead. See Figures 13 and 14 (NISD/SEAA 2001, Sketch S5a/b through S5b/b).
9. Know Approximate Dimensions of Necessary Tools to Make Connections: Familiarity
with realistic dimensions can help the detailer specify connections with improved
constructability in order to prevent pinches or awkward assemblies. See Figure 15 for
approximate sizing of common tools (NISD/SEAA 2001, Sketch A1).
10. Tripping Hazards: Avoid connections or protrusions above floor framing members. See
Figure 16 (NISD/SEAA 2001 Sketch M2).

The idea included in number 1 above of identifying and/or designing needed anchorage points
for fall protection systems is an example of how designers can use their understanding of
structural engineering principles to make it easier for workers to use fall protections systems
efficiently, both during construction and future maintenance. Indeed, this idea of identifying
anchorage points on construction drawings is in accordance with Appendix C to Subpart M (Fall
Protection) from the federal OSHA standards for Construction:
(h) Tie-off considerations (1) One of the most important aspects of personal fall
protection systems is fully planning the system before it is put into use. Probably the
most overlooked component is planning for suitable anchorage points. Such planning
should ideally be done before the structure or building is constructed so that anchorage
points can be incorporated during construction for use later for window cleaning or other

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building maintenance. If properly planned, these anchorage points may be used during
construction, as well as afterwards.

DESIGNERS INFLUENCE ON SAFETY DURING OTHER TASKS


The discussion of DfCS thus far in this article has focused on what designers and detailers can do
during the design and detailing processes. There are other tasks that designers do that can
contribute to increasing safety on project sites that are not related to design decisions per se.
These tasks are summarized below.

Procure for safety: Lead design firms are often asked by clients to assist in procuring
construction, that is, issuing requests for bids, reviewing bids, and recommending a winning
contractor. The goals of DfCS can best be achieved by suggesting that clients consider the safety
records and safety programs of bidders when selecting the contractor to receive the contract
award. It is therefore ideal to have the request for bid explicitly require bidders to provide
specific safety program information, such their workmens compensation experience
modification ratings (EMR), OSHA 300 logs for the past three years, and affirmation that they
have a written safety plan and designated safety officer.

Review submittals for safety: Structural engineers are often required to approve shop drawings
from detailers and subcontractors, which provides an opportunity to review these drawings for
the specific DfCS safety issues listed earlier. The premise behind this review is not that the
designer has responsibility for managing possible hazards; rather, the premise is that the more
professional eyes review documents, the less chance an unnecessary hazard will slip through the
cracks and onto the construction site.

Inspect for safety: Structural engineers are often required to observe structural systems under
construction for the purposes of monitoring progress and compliance with technical
specifications. While on site, designers could also monitor for compliance with the safety
requirements indicated in the contract documents (plans, technical specifications and general
conditions), submittals, owner standards, and/or OSHA standards. Designers could thus not only
be an extra set of eyes for spotting potential hazards to workers, they could use their expertise to
spot hazards associated with the improper application of engineering principles, such as with
retaining walls, falsework and scaffolding systems.

BARRIERS TO DESIGNING FOR CONSTRUCTION SAFETY


The construction and design professionals promoting DfCS are keenly aware that even if DfCS is
ethically and practically the right thing to do, several significant barriers to DfCS exist. These
barriers and potential long term solutions to them are summarized below.

Fear of undeserved liability. Perhaps the most obvious barrier is designers and detailers fear of
undeserved liability or construction worker safety. Some designers and detailers may
understandably fear that if they make any effort to consider the safety of construction workers,
they may face a lawsuit by an injured worker claiming they had the obligation for the safety of
construction workers. The promoters of DfCS are NOT suggesting that designers should be held
partially responsible for construction accidents.

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The long-term solution to liability concerns appears to be revised model contract language and
perhaps legislation that would facilitate designing for construction safety without inappropriately
shifting safety duties onto designers. For example, the paragraph below from the model contract
issued by the Engineers Joint Construction Documents Committee (paragraph 6.02.I in EJCDC
E-500) appropriately states that design professionals should not be responsible for site safety
once construction has begun, but this paragraph would not prevent an owner and designer from
signing a contract that encourages the designer to consider site safety during the design phase of
the project:
Engineer shall not at any time supervise, direct, or have control over Contractors work,
nor shall Engineer have authority over or responsibility for the means, methods,
techniques, sequences, or procedures of construction selected or used by Contractor, for
security or safety at the Site, for safety precautions and programs incident to the
Contractors work in progress.

Designers lack of safety expertise is a second major barrier to the diffusion of DfCS within the
steel industry. A 2003 article in the International ejournal of Construction (Gambatese 2003a)
reported that very few civil engineering programs included construction safety in their
curriculum. Only 20% of the 75 US design engineering firms surveyed in 2002 by a Bucknell
University graduate student indicated that over 50% of their employees had received safety
training while nearly 70% indicated that less than 25% of their employees had received safety
training. The same study also found that less than one-quarter of the US participants believed
that employees in their firm were often capable of identifying site hazards to which workers are
exposed (Toole and Marquis 2004). Potential long-term solutions include adding a limited
amount of construction safety training to civil engineering curricula and requiring professional
engineers to receive construction safety training prior to or as part of maintaining their
professional registration.

Fragmented design process. A recent study by Bucknell University researchers suggest there
may be another barrier that is less obvious but has implications for DfCS and many other aspects
of the construction industry. Toole and Hallowell (2004) reported that a detailed analysis of the
technical specifications from twenty design-bid-build commercial building projects indicates that
thirty-seven building components had engineering design performed by entities associated with
the construction phase of projects, not by design professionals associated with the design phase.
This finding has negative implications for DfCS in that the large number of entities performing
design on a building suggests communication between designers is more problematic than it
would be if only a few designers were involved. Communication between designers is not only
linked to productivity and quality but is also likely important for designing for construction
safety. The fragmentation of design would therefore appear to hinder diffusion of DfCS.

The Bucknell study suggests that the steel design process is even more fragmented than are other
portions of commercial buildings. One example of this fragmentation exists is the design of
structural steel connections. The general design process initiates with the structural engineer
who designs the steel members for applicable loads but typically only provides conceptual
design of the structural connections. During the construction phase the steel fabricator is
responsible for detailed design of the connections (often through an in-house engineer or through

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a retained engineering consultant). The design of steel joists, steel decking systems, steel roof
trusses, steel panelized components and metal stairs follow a similar process: the structural
engineer provides detailed design of portions of the structural subsystems, conceptual design of
other portions, and requires prefabricated component vendors or other entities to provide detailed
engineering designs for the rest of the building structure.

The extreme fragmentation of steel design presents a significant challenge to designing for
construction safety (and to achieving less controversial design goals such as low cost and fast
construction). Effective designing for construction safety requires design leadership, that is, the
lead designer establishes the design criteria priorities which are to be followed by all designers
involved in the building project. Furthermore, it was stated earlier that DfCS is most effective
when it is implemented early in the project and incorporated in the design of the site and building
layout. The fragmentation of steel design therefore hinders both the design leadership and the
early action needed for effective DfCS.

Conflicting industry guidelines. The challenge to DfCS posed by the extreme fragmentation of
steel design is compounded by the inconsistencies in the national documents that guide custom
and practice in the industry. The AISC Manual for Steel Construction and the model General
Conditions issued by the American Institute of Architects (AIA A-201) and the Engineers Joint
Construction Documents Committee (EJCDC E-700) all influence custom and practice regarding
steel design in building construction. These documents are either ambiguous or conflicting
regarding issues relevant to DfCS. For example, the AISC Manual recognizes the need for the
manufacturer to provide structural design in the form of connections and even supplies
guidelines and specific engineering equations. On the other hand, the AIA-A201 document
seems to deny that entities associated with construction play a role in design:
Any design errors or omissions noted by the Contractor during this review shall be
reported promptly to the Architect, but it is recognized that the Contractors review is
made in the contractors capacity as a contractor and not as a licensed design
professional. (Paragraph 3.2.2 in AIA A201-1997).

INITIAL STEPS TOWARDS DFCS


Although the previous section discusses several significant barriers to establishing DfCS, the
engineering and construction community has made progress towards raising designers
awareness of their influence on site safety. In a ceremony held in Washington, DC on November
3, 2003, ASCE Executive Director Patrick Natale, CI President Robert Alger and Assistant
Secretary of Labor John Henshaw signed an agreement establishing a formal alliance between
ASCE/CI and the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). An important excerpt
from the ASCE-OSHA alliance is quoted below:
OSHA and CI therefore agree to form an Alliance to use their collective expertise and
share information and technical knowledge to promote safe and healthful working
conditions for construction employees. Through this Alliance, OSHA and CI will work
together to encourage employers to increase employee access to safety and health
information and training resources, especially in the area of crane safety, and to
incorporate safety and health issues into the construction/constructability process.

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The agreement between OSHA and ASCE is part of OSHAs alliance program, which was
created in 2002 to form cooperative relationships with trade organizations and private companies
to leverage resources for training, outreach and communication. Of the more than 100 alliances,
thirteen involve firms or organizations within the construction industry. Representatives from
these thirteen alliances met in July 2004 and formed the OSHA Alliance Program Construction
Roundtable to pool resources and collaborate on mutually beneficial activities. Two specific
workgroups emerged: one focusing on fall protection, and the other focusing on designing for
construction safety. ASCE-CI members initiated and have spear-headed the DfCS initiative.

The DfCS workgroup has met quarterly since October 2004, focusing on three specific tasks.
One task is the creation of a website, www.designforconstructionsafety.org, that communicates
the DfCS concept and provides access to DfCS literature and tools. The second task is the
development of a powerpoint file that can be used to introduce general construction audiences to
DfCS. (This file is available on the DfCS website.) The third task has been to make industry-
specific presentations on DfCS, such as at the North American Steel Construction conference
and the annual conferences of the International Association of Foundation Drilling and the
American Society of Safety Engineers.

CLOSING
This article began by suggesting that the steel construction industry may be entering a new era
with regards to site safety, one in which all partiesstructural engineers and steel detailers
includedcontribute to site safety. While cynics may point to the significant barriers to
designing for construction safety discussed in this article as evidence that the industry is not
heading towards DfCS, most industry professionals acknowledge that major trends often have
subtle or chaotic beginnings. The premises of the DfCS initiative are that designing for
construction safety is the right thing to dothat is, in accordance with common sense and
engineering codes of ethicsand the smart thing to dothat is, offering all parties concrete
benefits in terms of cost and time savings. These premises are fundamental and will ultimately
prevail over temporary challenges.

The thirteen national professional and trades organizations participating in the OSHA Alliance
Program Design for Construction Safety workgroup invite steel professionals to learn more about
DfCS and to participate in guiding the direction the industry takes. As more steel professionals
hear about the DfCS concept and as DfCS tools are refined, the emergence of the new era in steel
construction will become clearer.

LIST OF REFERENCES
American Institute of Architects, Inc. Standard general conditions of the construction contract
(AIA A201). Washington, DC: American Institute of Architects, Inc. 1997.

American Institute of Steel Construction. Detailing for Steel Construction, 2nd Edition.
Chicago, IL.

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American Society of Civil Engineers. Code of Ethics.
http://www.asce.org/inside/codeofethics.cfm. June 6, 2005.

American Society of Civil Engineers. Policy Statement 350, Construction Site Safety.
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Information about the Authors


Mike Toole is an Assistant Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Bucknell
University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. He received his BS in Civil Engineering from Bucknell
University and his MS and PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Toole is a
professional engineer registered in six states and an authorized OSHA Instructor for the
construction industry. He is Vice-Chair of the American Society of Civil Engineers
Construction Site Safety Committee and an Assistant Editor for the Journal of Construction
Engineering and Management. He formerly worked for Packer Engineering and served as an
officer in the U.S. Navy Civil Engineers Corps.
Nikki Hervol will graduate from Bucknell University in May 2006 with a B.S in Civil
Engineering. She hails from outside Pittsburgh, where her father is a steelworker. Her campus
activities have included serving as an officer in the American Society of Civil Engineers and the
Society of Women Engineers. She has worked as a summer intern for Nicholson Construction.
Matt Hallowell is a graduate student at Oregon State University pursuing a Ph.D. in Civil
Engineering. He received his BS and MS in Civil Engineering from Bucknell University. His
research interests include construction safety and sustainability. His professional experience
includes working part-time as a structural engineer.

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