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Health and safety are part of the risk 'cake'

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May I add a few comments to the two articles on teaching safety at schools of architecture (AJ 26.6.03 and Nigel Bedford's response 10.7.03). I am involved in the subject and assisted the RIBA in the delivery of a course for academia on this topic.

I agree that the undergraduate phase is for education of aspiring architects. It is not primarily the place to train students in the detailed requirements of practice (although much will inevitably be mentioned and experienced, specifically during project work). What this period of learning must be used for, however, (in all courses relating to the built environment) is to introduce an understanding of risk management, be it financial, market, resource or safety (I include health within this definition). All these examples are slices from the same risk 'cake'.

No professional can exist without an understanding of this intellectual element and it needs to be appreciated from the very early days that good design cannot exist in ignorance of this.

The appropriate application of risk management, integrated within the course, will allow the student subsequently to recognise that the use of CDM is project management at its best, with the ability, when suitably applied, not only to reduce accidents and ill health but also to improve the profitability and efficacy of the supply chain and, ultimately, the quality of the product.

When industry and academia grasp this nettle, we will move a quantum leap forward.

John Carpenter, consultant (and lead author of HSE report 'Identification and Management of Risk in Undergraduate Construction Courses')

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