From busy roads to stormy seas, a surveyor’s working environment is often dangerous. The need to stay alert to serious hazards while carrying out complicated tasks can make the job all the more challenging. But surveying is governed by comprehensive rules and regulations designed to keep surveyors and anyone in the vicinity of their work safe, and with meticulous planning and attention to detail, the risks can be kept to a minimum. Here are a few examples of the hazards that surveyors face every day, along with some of the measures that can be taken to stay safe on the job:
Surveying roads and highways can be particularly hazardous. Surveyors often have to complete time-consuming projects close to fast-moving traffic. To do this safely, good preparation is essential, and a plan of road networks must be studied carefully before work starts. When work is underway, it’s essential to pay close attention to the traffic, regardless of how demanding the task is. Cones and signs can be placed on the roadside to make drivers aware that surveyors are active, and the distance that surveyors must stay from moving traffic is closely regulated. Working outside for long periods is tiring, so regular breaks are also important.
Travelling to far-flung corners of the globe is one of the best aspects of surveying, but it can also be one of the most hazardous. Vaccinations may be required before setting off to minimise the risk of illness. If surveyors are working in thick undergrowth, special protective clothing may need to be worn to prevent snake or insect bites. It’s important to prepare for the worst, especially when working in remote areas. Surveyors understand the risks involved in working in inhospitable environments and are ready to act fast if anyone is injured.
Surveying around and inside buildings presents a range of health and safety concerns. A fire risk assessment is crucial to establish the potential for a fire to break out and create a plan for how to keep the risk of one starting to a minimum. Asbestos is still present in many older buildings and can cause mesothelioma when inhaled, which is more likely to happen when work is underway and the asbestos is disturbed. Another concern is Legionnaire’s Disease, a lung infection which can be spread by water droplets in air conditioning systems. The structural integrity of the building is a major concern, and a detailed assessment should be carried out before work begins.
Utility mapping and railway surveying often involve working close to electricity and gas – both of which can be seriously dangerous if caution isn’t exercised at all times. A detailed risk assessment which includes electrical hazards is crucial, and all workers must be able to recognize the dangers of overhead power lines, electrical wiring and buried cables. It’s particularly important that all underground utilities are located before the site is excavated or otherwise disturbed.
From reservoirs to wild stretches of coast, surveyors are regularly required to assess bodies of water. Detailed weather forecasting is essential, especially for oceans and rivers, where changing tides, swell and wind can cause calm conditions to quickly deteriorate. Comprehensive safety measures must be in place, and all workers should know what to do in an emergency.
Surveying on construction sites often involves working close to bulldozers, excavators and dump trucks. Close communication between everyone on the site and careful planning is essential to minimise the risk, and close attention must be paid to any equipment being used nearby.