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  • Writer's pictureSafer Highways

People-Plant Interface

What do you know about People-Plant Interface?

This is a topic that comes up time and again and for good reason. Handling people-plant interface is a topic that seriously concerns many people in the construction sector in particular because being struck by a moving vehicle accounted for 18% of all fatal workplace injuries in 2020/21 (Health and Safety Executive statistics) and this level of fatal injuries caused by vehicles at work has remained largely unchanged for many years.

While it’s a departure from the norm for me, given it’s a topic concerned with instant injury or death rather than long-term disease progression and reduced quality of life, I find myself frequently involved in discussions on the topic given the role that situational awareness has to play.

In a recent discussion on the topic with colleagues at VINCI and Leonard, and being on site most days and, well, seeing and hearing things, has got me thinking about this topic.

There are great examples of best practice demonstrated across the sector but at the same time, there are pockets of complacency, often also amongst the best in the business. Many of you already know all too well that complacency is often found at the root of serious incidents.

Complacency and how to tackle it is an important topic in industrial sectors, and beyond just safety, health and wellbeing. Whatever way you look at it, workplace complacency is a danger for all people and organisations.

When there are feelings of frustration with management, a lack of confidence in colleagues or too much time spent in one’s own comfort zone, we move to accepting mediocrity as the standard. And then people get killed at work – at least when working in hazardous environments.

So, I now find myself caring about this a lot. The reason being that when the root cause of something becomes clear, it can be directly addressed and prevented, and I’m always looking for the easiest and quickest way to solve difficult health challenges. Easier said than done of course but, if tackling it will prevent people from dying unnecessarily, then for me there isn’t anything else more important.

To battle complacency begins with introspection and caring – if you don’t care, do something else because you are inadvertently hurting people. From a place of caring you can then challenge yourself, your team and your industry colleagues to do better. This has to start with simply talking about it.

I’ve found some fantastic resources on the topic of people-plant interface but nowhere to talk about it.

To ask the stupid questions like ‘if I see a senior team member standing in the red zone because they believe they know the risks, and they are clearly complacent and therefore numb to the risks, what is the best way to tell them they are setting a bad example for junior colleagues who don’t fully understand the risks but are looking up to them for what is normal?’

So, this is a call for resources and solutions to the challenge of people-plant interface. If there is a safe space to talk cross-sector about this then please let me know where that is.

The Federation of Piling Specialists have produced a fantastic free resource on the topic called ‘Plant Restricted Zone’ that can be found via their website, free to access. That's where all of these images and examples have come from.

The European Federation of Foundation Contractors also hosted a great webinar by Lorenzo Alessi of Soletanche Freyssinet and Javier Vaca Fuente of RODIO KRONSA that can be found via their homepage. Leonard and VINCI who also care about finding solutions to this also shared an interview on the topic here – shout out to David TEMAM and

As I have not yet found a safe space to talk and learn about people-plant interface best practice, I would like to look at creating it with anyone else who wants to. Regardless of your role, industry, experience or organisation, if this is a topic important to you, and you would like to attend or lead a space to address this topic, mark your interest on this google form and let's prevent avoidable deaths at work together:

Image credit - the Federation of Piling Specialists

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