Calgary construction and public safety
If construction activities are not properly managed, they can become unsafe for the public, disruptive to those that live nearby or damage adjacent property. The City’s resources and the Coordinated Safety Response Team can help builders minimize construction impact and ensure public safety.
As a leading member of the Coordinated Safety Response Team, the Safety Response Unit responds to incidents and conducts investigations where a risk to public safety may have resulted from any type of construction activity. The Safety Response Unit operates on an urgent response basis, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Common public safety issues for any construction type
Hoarding of construction/demolition site
Ensure site fencing and hoarding are properly constructed and secure to:
- Prevent the public from entering the site
- Protect from falling construction debris and hazards on the ground
- Facilitate safe passage around the site
Fencing needs to be well maintained, continuous and properly secured to stay in place anytime workers are not present. Adding signage or banners may add extra loads to the fence which may cause the fence to fall over in windy conditions. Ensuring an appropriate anchoring system is important to help prevent injury or damage.
Managing vehicle and pedestrian traffic adjacent to construction sites
Plan to manage the traffic around your construction site to prevent hazards to workers, pedestrians, vehicles and mobile construction equipment. Keep in mind potential incidents like tripping on uneven surfaces; signs or banners blocking the vision of motorists or pedestrians; pedestrians being struck with operating equipment, construction materials or uncontrolled traffic; or vehicles colliding with construction barriers, other vehicles, workers or pedestrians.This also includes appropriate signage or flag persons to warn the public in advance of a construction site. Do not cause any damage to adjacent public or private property such as sidewalks, boulevards, trees and fences.
Lifting and hoisting operations
Lifting and hoisting operations are one of the major causes of fatalities and serious incidents in construction. Every type of lift has a set of risks that need to be managed, including tower and mobile cranes, telehandlers, forklifts and small lifts. All companies conducting lifting activities must have a management system that includes specific procedures based on a full assessment of the risks and control measures required.
Securing construction materials and equipment
- Hand tools
- Fasteners and other connecting devices like bolts and taper ties
- Construction material
- Dust and debris
- Temporary hoarding and scaffolding
Construction items at risk of takeoff
Download the Wind Speed/Risk Data and chart to view a set of wind speeds and corresponding construction items at risk of becoming windborne. The wind speeds are expressed in terms of three second bursts of wind, not hourly averages. This list is illustrative of the typical materials that would be present on a construction site, and is not intended to be exhaustive.
The Calgary Wind Warning App is available for iPhone, iPad, Blackberry and Android phones and tablets. Search for “Calgary wind warning” to purchase the app.
One of the simplest forms of public safety around a construction site is often overlooked: communicate your intentions to neighbours and be available to answer questions. The most effective public safety tool a builder can use is making reasonable efforts to inform neighbouring residents and businesses what is going on, when major activities can be expected, and provide a site contact name and phone number. When a neighbour has the opportunity to digest the project information, they may deal with it in a much more reasonable manner than if they are surprised each day by new events. This reduces the probability of complaints to The City (which may result in fines or charges), increases positive attitudes about the project and the community and can even be great advertising.
Practical guide for construction sites in Calgary
On-site construction safety best practices
Advanced Weather Forecasting System (AWFS)
The Advanced Weather Forecasting System (AWFS) has two formats;
- The site-specific version is mandatory for construction, repair and maintenance of high-rise buildings five storeys or taller. This version is to advise contractors with advance notice of impending wind events which may consist of sudden gusts as well as higher velocity, sustained wind which would have the potential of causing injury or damage due to windborne items.
- The city-wide version is intended for residential, low-rise construction. It provides owners, contractors and the public with advance forecasts of expected wind gusts or higher velocity wind speeds in Calgary by quadrant. As with the site-specific version, it is intended to help builders reduce the likelihood of incidents of building materials being blown off construction sites, decreasing safety risks to the general public.
Construction site signage
Providing information on who has care and control of a construction site, and making it easily available to the public, is a key part of a well-managed construction project.
The City has developed standardized signage, to improve public safety. Commonly referred to as “the orange sign”, it provides an immediate site contact, in the event of a concern, incident or hazard.
The City’s Public Protection Site Safety Plan requires contact information signs be posted on any construction site that requires fencing. Signs need to be clearly visible and legible.
Although builders and developers may use their own signage, we recommend The City’s standardized sign as a best practice.
Residential construction hazards and support
Residential construction, though certainly smaller in scale as compared to commercial high-rise buildings, have their own unique challenges. In outer areas of the city, suburban residential developments can be massive, sprawling projects with workers and suppliers seemingly everywhere and often with very little impact on residents and neighbors. Another type of residential construction is infill construction, where there is a much higher impact on the community and neighbors. Both types have their challenges.
Residential construction site safety
The Residential Construction Safety Best Practices Guide aims to reduce the number of job site accidents and serve as a tool for builders, renovators and suppliers in Calgary. It addresses common issues regarding residential construction for both established neighbourhoods (infill construction) and new developments (Greenfield sites). Focusing on key areas that might impact public safety, it also provides industry and the public links to related acts, regulations and bylaws.
The guide was produced by BILD (Building Industry Land Development), formerly the Calgary Canadian Home Builders' Association, in partnership with:
- The City of Calgary
- Alberta Occupational Health and Safety
- Alberta Construction Safety Association
Advanced Weather Forecasting System (AWFS) for residential builders
The City Wide version of the optional Calgary Wind Warning App provides hourly wind gust forecasts for home builders and low-rise building construction sites in Calgary. It was created to make it more convenient for contractors and owners to obtain forecasted maximum gust conditions and Environment Canada advisories.
- Wind and temperature forecasts and warnings by quadrant (i.e., NW, SW, SE, NE)
- Designed for home builders and other low-rise buildings
- Forecasts conditions are displayed hourly and are updated every three hours
- Indicates when there is potential for strong winds related to thunderstorms
- List of construction items that are at risk of becoming windborne
- Relay of Environment Canada Weather Alerts
The Calgary Wind Warning App is available for iPhone, iPad, Blackberry and Android phones and tablets, useable by anyone and searchable as either “Calgary Wind Warning” or “RWDI”. The app is available at a low (~$1.00), one-time cost for Android, iPhone and BlackBerry devices.
Commercial, multi-family and industrial construction hazards and support
Public Protection Site Safety Plans (PPSSP)
The Public Protection Site Safety Plan, a requirement since 2012, is part of the building permit and plans review process. City of Calgary Building Regulations worked closely with the construction industry to develop technically feasible requirements for protecting the public during demolition and/or construction.
The Public Protection Site Safety Plan applies to new construction and exterior remodeling, repairs or maintenance. For new construction, partial building permits for work below grade may be issued prior to a complete review of the Public Protection Site Safety Plan by The City.
A Public Protection Site Safety Plan is required if a project meets one of the following criteria:
- The scope of work is on a building 5-storeys or greater regardless of which floors are or are not involved,
- The project is designated as a high building as per article 3.2.6 of the current Alberta Building Code, or
- As required by the City of Calgary for unique situations.
Please note: any construction activity, regardless of whether there is a Public Protection Site Safety Plan in place, is required to comply with Part 8 of the Alberta Building Code and Section 5.6 of the Alberta Fire Code for public safety.
Components of a public protection site safety plan
- Site Plans or Drawings
- Two copies of plans and specifications shall be depicted using a scale that is legible
- Points of entry
- Site offices
- Access Route
- Building Information
- Location of required sidewalk/roadway hoarding
- Location of temporary walkways
- Location of street and sidewalk closing(s)
- Location of perimeter site fencing and/or barricades
- Location of foot bridges and motor vehicle ramps
- Sidewalk and roadway widths
- Protection of adjoining property
- Location of overhead power lines
- Muster Points
- Hydrant and Siamese connections
- Flag persons
- General Information
- Phased occupancy plan, if applicable, indicating progressive occupancy and detailed attention to public safety over and around occupied spaces as a building is commissioned into service. Refer to Standata 06-BCB-002-R1 for more.
- Location of surrounding buildings, indicating occupancy, height and type of roof. Any building in the neighbouring vicinity must be indicated on the plan, whether or not they are occupied.
- Method or system to be used for Advanced Weather Forecasting System.
- Location of construction site contact information signs
- Other emergency contacts, like the site supervisor, project manager.
- Hoisting and Lifting
- Identification and location of overhead cranes and their swing radius.
- Approximate location of materials and loading/staging areas.
- Location of personnel hoist(s) – skips.
- Location of all constructors exterior staging area and debris containers.
Contact 311 prior to construction reaching grade level to arrange for a construction site safety meeting. You will need to provide your building permit number, site address, builder representative’s contact name and daytime phone number. You will then be contacted within one business day to coordinate the site safety meeting.
Advanced Weather Forecasting System (AWFS) for high-rise buildings
For commercial construction, renovation or maintenance work on buildings five storeys or greater and located in the downtown core and Beltline district, or where required by The City, the Advanced Weather Forecasting System is a mandatory requirement. This system is site specific and modeled to the individual structure, factoring in surrounding properties.
- Available 24 hours a day
- Forecast conditions are displayed hourly and are updated every three hours
- Forecast can be delivered by email at predefined times (e.g. 6 a.m. and 3 p.m.)
- Provide advanced warning of up to 48 hours
- Compatible with multiple web browsers and optimized for mobile devices
- Customizable alerts that allow users to specify wind gust thresholds at different working heights and who should receive them
- Registered users can access their site specific forecasts for high rise construction and building maintenance
- Relay of Environment Canada weather alerts
- Advanced auditing that keeps a record of each weather forecast, alert, and the recipients
Registering for the AWFS
Having a location and site specific AWFS remains mandatory for any construction site in the downtown core or beltline that is five stories or greater. For all other construction projects, it is recommended but optional for contractors or owners to utilize the mobile app.
To register for this system, please contact:
RWDI City of Calgary Wind Warning System
403-232-6771 ext: 6270