45179_towardssaferschoolconstruction_0 (2015) - Page 85

Observations of school damage in past disasters indicate school weaknesses were most likely due to the poor quality of workmanship and materials. Both factors are important in regular construction, but are absolutely essential in hazardresistant construction. The program manager needs to ensure that competent tradespeople are hired or that those who are hired have been given sufficient training. Even with an effective training process, local tradespeople may lack the years of experience necessary to quickly pinpoint errors and know when a small adjustment can be made, when work needs to be redone, or when construction must be halted all together. Even with sufficiently trained tradespeople, the material type and quality used in construction needs to be consistent with design specifications. Construction materials need to be verified on delivery. They then need to be tested to ensure they meet strength requirements and appropriately stored so they are undamaged when used. • Monitoring a site. Program managers – whether from a development or government agency – are responsible for establishing and coordinating a robust system to independently monitor materials and workmanship. This usually means they need to hire a third-party technical expert to monitor construction, check the quality of workmanship and materials, and ensure design is compliant. If substandard work or materials are identified, the expert should suggest actions that avoid costly or time-consuming repairs in the future. While having this technical expert consistently on the construction site is ideal, at minimum they should thoroughly inspect the school construction at each key stage of the construction process. Day-to-day community monitoring can supplement the construction monitoring carried out by technical experts. The local school management committee and neighbours near the construction site are often most aware of the construction activities, especially when sites are remote and technical experts visit only periodically. An appropriate orientation on safe school construction can teach community members basic tips for identifying good quali ty materials and workmanship. They can tell when the contractor has stopped working for weeks, when masonry bricks crumble if dropped, when reinforcing steel is smooth rather than deformed, when timber boards are deformed, and when too much water is being added to a concrete mix. They may also be able to identify unsafe construction site conditions that pose a risk to themselves or the workers. In a community-based approach, unqualified community members – including the school management committee – should not be responsible for ensuring school construction complies with design and national standard. However, they should have the power to raise informed concerns and even halt construction when low-quality construction is suspected. A compliance checklist can greatly aid communities monitoring school construction sites (see the Community Construction Stage case study). When to inspect Local government offices are typically responsible for inspecting construction sites and verifying the construction complies with national regulations. Yet in many countries, government inspectors are overworked, under-qualified or both. They may not be able to verify that the materials and workmanship are to standard. Program managers need to ensure qualified technical experts monitor school projects at key stages in the construction process. Important inspection points include: • Site and foundation preparation. An inspection at this time ensures the building has been sited according to plan, and that utilities and foundations have been properly laid. • Post-foundations. After laying foundations, a check will ensure foundations have adequate strength and are placed at an appropriate depth. • Wall or framing. Checks at this point ensure material strength, and that the wall and structural frame dimensions meet design specifications. It also ensures walls and framing are properly anchored to foundations. • Roofing. This inspection point makes sure roofing and building exteriors provide specified weatherproofing and that roof structures are properly secured to walls or the frame. • Completion. This final inspections ensures all aspects of construction are complete and the school is safe for occupancy Monitoring is especially useful when it is conducted by a third party, preferably a qualified technical expert without financial or other ties to the construction team. When third-party technical experts verify the construction complies with hazard-resistant design before the next instalment of payment is released, it provides strong incentive for getting the construction details right (see In context: Technical support and construction oversight in the Community Construction Stage section). SECTION III: CONSTRUCTION Key activity 1: Construction monitoring 76