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Until the 1988 (2045 BS) Udayapur Earthquake in Nepal, we did not have any regulation or good practice document in place to guide earthquake safe construction in the country, although the disaster pointed us in the right direction. Under the Ministry of Physical Planning and Works (MPPW), the Department of Urban Development and Building Construction (DUDBC) developed the Nepal National Building Code (NBC) in 1993. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Centre for Human Settlement (UNCHS) and few domestic as well as foreign subcontractors’ teams provided their technical assistance in developing the NBC.
The NBC implementation went into effect after the authorization provided by the Building Construction System Improvement Committee (established by the Building Act 1998). Following a government notice in the Nepal Gazette in 2006, the NBC implementation became mandatory in all the municipalities in Nepal.
Under the safety section of the requirements, the NBC included Construction Safety (NBC 114: 1994) standard and provisional recommendation on Fire Safety (NBC 107: 1994) standard. NBC 114 standard covers provisions for Health & Safety of workers in building construction/demolition works being performed under a formal contract between the employer and the contractor. In the case of owner-built construction sites the requirements are advisory. Similarly, NBC 107 provides fundamental requirements for Fire Safety in commercial, official or ordinary residential buildings.
NBC 114: 1994
Given below are the provisions for the maintenance of Construction Safety control measures and their corresponding safety requirements as per NBC 114.
- Material Handling – Safe storage and handling of materials including flammable liquids, explosives, mechanical equipment, adequate warning signs, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as well as slip, trip & fall protection.
- First Aid – First Aid facility including stretchers, paramedic and regular health checkups.
- Fire Fighting – Fire prevention measures including fire-fighting equipment, electrical safety and fire escape routes.
- Site Preparation – Site safety preparation includes prevention from falling, dust, flying/falling/piercing objects, etc. PPE such as hard hat, safety harness, safety goggles, mask, gloves, boots, etc. and first aid facility should be provided or available at all times.
- Excavation Safety – Trenching and excavation safety allows safety provisions such escape routes, precautions against the collapse of retaining wall or damage of service lines, oxygen masks for underwater/underground works, adequate fencing/barriers/barricades, etc.
- Foundation Construction – Application of safe construction design and practices including protection of health & property of workers/neighbors, reinforcing adjoining infrastructures, shoring of excavation walls in deep excavation, etc.
- Wall Construction – Provisions for safe manual/material handling of pre-cast elements/doors/windows, canvas-covered guard , scaffolding safety and adequate design of safe working platforms.
- Roof Construction – Slip, trip and fall protection by requiring safety harness & belt, designated walking/working platforms, railings and other protective guards including hard hat, safety boot and protective gloves.
- Electrical Works – Electrical safety program should require protective measures such as avoiding bare wires, not placing electrical equipment on wet floor, protecting floor-laid/overhead wires from moving machinery and workers, isolating combustible substances/clothing away from electric switch board/work, quick access to CO2/Dry Powder extinguishers, employing qualified electrician, covering of exposed high or low tension lines, etc.
- Temporary Works – Temporary works require safety provisions such as safe design of temporary framework structures, adequate load bearing capacity, ladder safety, guard/hand rails, etc.
- Demolition of Structures – Safety of workers and adjoining properties must not be compromised while undertaking demolition plan. Care must be taken regarding hazard communication including warning signs, barricades, posters, etc., bracing/shoring to prevent accidental collapse, disconnection of electric/water service lines, public safety, and prevention of slip, trip and falling objects.
- Requirements During Demolition – Other specific requirements during building demolition includes, adequate lighting arrangements for night demolition (only if night demolition is necessary), enough warning signs for public/workers, use of adequate PPE including hard-hats, goggles, gloves, boots, etc., fall protection measures, use of explosives only if approved by authorities.
- Use of Explosives – Explosives can be sued only after consulting engineers and authorities. Specifics must be maintained as per safety requirements such as marking/guarding of blasting area, appropriate audible signal before each blast, alerting workers/public/animals, adequate protection during controlled blasting in a confined space, safety of adjoining properties, strict supervision of authorities, record keeping of every minute detail of the operation, safe storage/handling of explosives.
- Labor Welfare – All workers should be provided with basic facilities such as drinking water, shelter outside the danger zone, toilets, adequate number/type of fire extinguishers, access to firefighting equipment, adequate safety clothing and PPE as demanded by the job, isolated storage of highly combustible or blasting materials away from labor settlement area, insurance against workplace accidents, etc.
- Other Safety Requirements – To ensure workplace safety, NBC 114 provides other safety requirements such as safe handling of moving vehicle/equipment, protection from falling structures/objects, installation of safety nets, restriction/control of people in construction or demolition sites, etc.
NBC 107: 1994
Given below are the provisions for the maintenance of the basic Fire Safety measures and their corresponding Fire Safety requirements as per NBC 107.
- Types of construction and appliances
- Provision of fire place and chimney where applicable
- Elimination of fire sources near combustible materials
- Encouragement to occupants to install applicable fire extinguishers
- Sufficient water storage where open hearth or kerosene stoves are used
- Fire Zones
- Demarcation of fire zones by coordinating with proper authorities in urban areas
- General Requirements
- Adequate building designs for containment of fire and thus to reduce its spread to other buildings
- Provision for wide enough access and wide/tall entry doors (as per Architectural Design Requirements NBC 206) to enable firemen to approach the building site
- Sufficient escape routes and open spaces (as per Architectural Design Requirements NBC 206) to allow rapid evacuation of occupants
- Exit Requirements
- Exit routes should be free of obstruction and with clearly visible signs
- Stairs, Fire Escapes and Exit Doors should meet minimum NBC 107 Requirements in regards to their design, size and location in the building
- Access to a Building
- Compliance with applicable zoning requirements and road accessibility requirements
- Lightening Arresters/Conductors
- Installation of lightening arresters/conductors as per NBC 107 Requirements
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