Improving safety in Dutch construction projects

An exploratory research on improving safety in the Dutch construction industry: incorporating a third party into the UAC-IC 2005, based on FIDIC’s Engineer

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Any industry is focusing on creating an environment that is as safe as possible for everyone that is involved. This is no different for the construction industry. However, the construction industry is placed second in the ranking of most dangerous industries. The Dutch Safety Board, being an independent administrative body, has recommended to integrate a third party into the contractual general terms and conditions such as the UAC for integrated contracts. The objective of this research is to examine whether there is any potential to integrate a third party into the UAC-IC 2005 contract. This potential is being examined using a comparison between the UAC-IC 2005 and FIDIC Yellow Book 1999, a contract in which a third party is already present. In this comparison, the main focus points are the "vital tasks & responsibilities" that are necessary in order to safeguard safety on site, safety of the surrounding area & structural safety.

This thesis has found that the three types of safety can be improved if the vital tasks & responsibilities are properly performed. These tasks & responsibilities mainly relate to the management of project specific and safety related risks, and to the safety approach that is a result of this risk management system. From a theoretical point of view, the UAC-IC 2005 and the Dutch Building Decree are able to facilitate these vital tasks & responsibilities. The ON is responsible for most of the vital tasks & responsibilities, and the OG has the possibility to use an external control mechanism to verify this. The practical situation is however different. It is not uncommon that other aspects like time, or money can get more important for the contracting party than proper risk management processes and the corresponding safety approach. Work is not executed as intended, but rather as work-as-actually-done. The OG’s incentives in the UAC-IC can be insufficient for him to effectively perform this external control mechanism. This leads to a possible situation in which no internal nor external control mechanism is present, which is to the detriment of safety. The Engineer, being the party that is responsible for an external independent control mechanism in the Yellow Book’s quality assurance system, does have more incentives to actually make him perform this external independent control mechanism effectively. This incentive has its origin in the uncapped liability which the Engineer can be held liable for. If the Dutch version of the role of the Engineer would be integrated into the UAC-IC, he would be able to improve the three types of safety when he takes over the responsibility for the external control mechanism from the OG under the assumption that this external control mechanism will be performed more effectively. This assumption is valid if the Dutch Engineer would have a comparable liability as in the White Book. Since TNR 2011 would most likely be used in the Dutch construction industry, the liability in TNR 2011 must be increased for Dutch Engineers in order to be comparable to FIDIC’s White Book.