Construction Industry - Asset and Stock tagging

Crime in the construction industry – What steps can be taken to help prevent workforce crime

It is not surprising that the most common forms of crime in the construction industry are theft, vandalism and health and safety neglect. These crimes contribute to the sector suffering millions of pounds’ worth of losses every year.  These costs relate to not only the crimes themselves but also the resulting financial penalties, such as increased insurance premiums and project delays.

Recent research, carried out by the CIOB (Chartered Institute of Building), examines the scale and impact of crime on the construction industry and highlights the key areas of concern for senior level construction workers and management.  Theft is the most common crime; 21% of respondent’s state that they experience theft each week and, overall, 92% are affected weekly, monthly or yearly.  This indicates that the industry needs to seriously consider the prevention of theft and ensure that construction workers in supervisory roles know how to deal with it appropriately.

Focusing on theft and vandalism for this article, it is estimated that the construction industry suffers losses of more than £400 million* a year due to these, although it is hard to get an accurate figure as many of these crimes go unreported. The theft of plant poses a particular problem for the industry; the replacement of expensive equipment could lead to a project incurring substantial and unforeseen costs. The recovery rate for plant that has been stolen has improved in recent years.  This is thanks to initiatives developed by membership organisation Construction Industry Theft Solutions (CITS), plus continuing collaboration with the police on crime prevention and the recovery of stolen goods.

Additionally, the theft of tools, building materials and small plant is also a major issue that plagues the industry – particularly as these crimes are sometimes perpetrated by direct employees or contractors working on a project. Let’s have a closer look at the figures:

items stolen / theft from construction sites
CIOB Survey: Responses – items such as tools/building materials/small plant stolen from UK construction sites

The survey found that both tools and building materials are stolen by either direct employees/contractors (approximately half) or third parties. CCTV, security measures and access controls can help eradicate the problem caused by the latter, but what more can be done about this crime within the existing workforce? Small plant theft can also be attributed to workforce members in one in four cases. When we look at vandalism statistics committed on a project, we also see that approximately 20-25% is once again caused by this group. It should be noted here that statistically speaking contractors do seem more problematic than the direct workforce with regards to these issues.

vandalism on UK construction sites
CIOB survey: Respondents – Vandalism on UK construction sites

These crimes have long reaching financial implications for all the organisations concerned. A £400 million pounds annual lost is a huge sum of money, compounded by an industry operating on notoriously low profitability margins. It is certainly money that the sector can ill afford, particularly in the current climate of BREXIT and exchange rate volatility.

The survey asked the respondents their opinion of the financial impact upon their organisations – One in four were unable to put a figure upon the cost of this crime, but nearly one in ten respondents said that crime in their industry costs them £100k or more annually.

The study concluded by asking if this problem has remained the same over the last year. Half felt it was no different, but worryingly 40% felt it was getting worst. This begs the questions – what measures can be undertaken to try and combat crimes carried out by the workforce?

Mosaic stock control, asset tagging & inspection manager is a powerful multifaceted tool to support management with the tracking of materials and equipment on-site. Historically, on-site materials tracking and locating have been made complicated by the use of traditional paper based tracking processes. These are invariably labour intensive, potentially ineffectual and contribute to the increase in construction costs.

This type of solution, provides a slick on-line process that easily allows you to book out and in items against a worker record. It provides an online and real time record of where plant, tools and materials are at any point in time during the project, and if policed correctly can reduce these losses.

To conclude, we will look at a live case study of Costain’s London Bridge project, to gain insight into the solution they employed to keep track of stock and machinery use. The client “Costain” wanted to make provisions to track workforce use of machinery, tools and issuing of PPE (Personal Protection Equipment). As they had 1000+ workers on site at any one time, they set up a designated storeroom on site manned by 7 Store Men over a 24-hour opening period. Mosaic’s Stock and Asset control manager system was employed and items were tagged up with RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) and scanned out and back in using a PDA’s (Personal Digital Assistant). To date there has been over 1.4 million transactions where tools and stock have been accessed and returned.

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*D. Edwards, Plant and equipment theft: a practical guide, 2007.

Source: Crime in the construction industry – CIOB (Chartered Institute of Building) survey 2016

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Competency management system in use at Hinkley Point C

Mosaic helps Costain deliver on marine tunnelling project at Hinkley Point C

Costain, one of the UK’s leading engineering solutions providers, is delighted be a major contract partner in the construction of the new Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset. Costain has started work and will provide the design and delivery of the water cooling systems for the nuclear power station.

Costain will design and construct three marine tunnels, around 11km in total length and each one approximately seven metres in diameter, to take in cooling water from the Severn Estuary for the nuclear reactor before it is cleansed, recycled and returned. They will also be building a jetty at the site.

Mosaic Management Systems will provide an on-line competency management system to support site management on this project. A 500+ strong workforce will be deployed on this phase of the project. Mosaic has been working with Costain now for a number of years, which means data can be migrated across from previous projects that Mosaic has been deployed on. The unique ability of the Mosaic system is that it has a ‘Network Passport’ allowing relevant work details to be transferred across, thus saving considerable time during set up of a new project.

John Micciche MD of Mosaic said “We have worked with Costain on numerous projects now and we are extremely pleased that they have chosen us once again, particularly on such a ground-breaking project.”

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When Costain were awarded the £700 million contract to redevelop London Bridge station – Mosaic were delighted to support this venture

Mosaic Management Systems were delighted to be involved in this project when Costain were awarded the £700 million contract to redevelop London Bridge station by Network Rail back in May 2013. They have undertaken this work in phases, in order for the station to remain open and operational throughout construction. Around 54 million passengers travel through London Bridge station each year. By the end of the project in 2018, there will be much improved facilities and two- thirds more space for passengers.

During the continuing period of the build, Costain made provisions to track the workforce’s use of machinery, tools and issuing of PPE (Personal Protection Equipment). As they had 1000+ workers on site, they set up a designated storeroom on site manned by 7 Store Men over a 24 hour opening period. Utilising Mosaic’s expertise they were able to book out and back in all equipment used by the workforce and attach this activity to an individual’s record. Thus, ensure a complete record of the exchange and record of inspections throughout the equipment’s life. During the project’s life to date, there has been over 1.4 million transactions where tools and stock have been accessed and returned.

London Bridge Redevelopment
London Bridge Redevelopment – A sky view of the vast works being undertaken

In addition they employed a full-time nurse on site from the outset, to undertake on-line medicals and depending upon the job, surveillance tests. These included hearing, eyesight, HAVS etc. Mosaic was used to support the occupational health work on this rail project and ensure all records were updated with the relevant information. Alerts were particularly useful to remind the nurse and key members of the management team about renewal dates.

Advancing safety with mobile technology

Advancing safety with mobile technology

Mobile technology plays a vital role in the management of assets and employees in most businesses today, whether it’s a colleague sending updates to a manager about their whereabouts, or the ability to access company servers and information remotely. For businesses with a workforce based on multiple sites, such as construction firms, quantity surveyors, engineers and project managers, there is even more to gain – mobile solutions can not only help drive efficiencies and achieve long-term productivity gains, but can also provide additional protection for workers.  The latest rugged devices can withstand the elements that field workers are subject to, and offer additional call functionality in the event of emergencies.

A mobile duty of care

According to data from the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE), each year in the construction sector, around three percent of workers sustain a work-related injury, with an estimated 66,000 self-reported injuries. Worryingly in 2015/16, there were 43 fatal injuries to construction industry workers, a rate of 1.94 per 100,000. The health and safety of lone workers is a major concern for construction firms. Could the implementation of new mobile technology help prevent further fatal injuries? Perhaps not, but it will help to give managers the peace of mind that they have taken steps to avoid or control risks where necessary.

advancing mobile usage in the construction sector

While prevention is the ultimate goal, there must also be tools in place to provide rapid help when accidents occur. This means providing a means of consistent, reliable communication with management, team members and emergency services.  This equipment should include specialised mobile devices featuring a pre-installed Lone Worker Protection App, which can be easily accessed at the touch of a button. This offers an audible and text alarm, sending a worker’s GPS location and alert message to their manager or colleague. For lone workers in more hazardous working conditions, an app like this will allow an accelerometer to be set, triggering an alarm if the user suffers a fall. With these features, businesses can be sure their workers will receive emergency care quickly when needed.

Constant connectivity

Ensuring worker safety means choosing a mobile solution which offers both the connectivity of a high-end smartphone, and the additional functionality of a specialised device. For example, dual SIM card functionality allows for multiple network connections, reducing the potential for workers experiencing mobile black spots. These communication precautions can also prove invaluable when it comes to boosting business efficiency. For example, a ‘push to talk’ button will allow a manager to instantly communicate one-to-one or one-to-many, providing cohesion among workers based in separate locations.

Tough on the outside

Anyone with a smartphone will know how fragile these devices can be – dropping a device from even hand-height can easily result in a cracked screen. Frustrating for the everyday phone owner; a potential health and safety hazaAdvancing safety with mobile technologyrd if you’re a lone worker on a remote site. One of the biggest challenges is the lack of mobile devices on the market which are both powerful and rugged enough to withstand harsh environments. Only a fraction of mobile devices offer an IP68 rating (meaning the handset is protected against complete dust ingress and can withstand continuous immersion in water beyond 1m), or robust build quality that conform to MIL-STD 810G. However, most of these devices do not offer the additional functionality of a specialised handset – one which is rugged, powerful and supports functions like Lone Worker Protection and dual SIM – which would allow managers and business owners to comply with regulations, and could help reduce those HSE figures in the years to come.

Smart competition

Construction remains a high-risk industry, and accidents are not uncommon. According to HSE’s figures, the combination of work-related illness and workplace injuries in the sector leads to 2.2 million working days lost annually. This will significantly impact a company’s bottom line, and indicates that not enough is being done to ensure worker safety.

Improvements in mobile technology mean that devices are now available which incorporate the functionality of a high-end smartphone with specialised features and a ruggedised exterior. Mobile technology of course plays a central role in improving business efficiency in other areas too, with smartphones providing features like real-time information and asset sharing, as well as other workforce management tools. In order to maximise the benefits offered by mobile, while simultaneously verifying the safety of a workforce, the construction industry needs to adopt specialised rugged mobile devices which are tough on the outside, and smart on the inside.

Ultimately, the safety of a workforce should be a top priority for any manager today, regardless of the industry. In high risk sectors, this is more important still. A manager is liable for their workforce’s safety, and the financial and moral implications of not complying regulations are simply too high.

Source: Stephen Westley, Dewalt – Advancing safety with mobile technology – SHP Online

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Latest Health & Safety Statistics

Health and safety statistics for 2015/16 released

Health and safety statistics for 2015/16 released 

Using information from the Labour Force Survey, RIDDOR reporting, HSE cost model, death certificates and HSE enforcement data, the report pulls together key facts about illness and injuries.

Occupational health in numbers

In 2015/16:

Latest Health & Safety Statistics

  • 1.3 milion workers suffer from work-related illness
  • 0.5 million suffer from work-related musculoskeletal disorders
  • 0.5 million suffer from work-related stress, depression or anxiety
  • There have been 2,515 deaths from mesothelioma

The costs of occupational ill health on business is clear. In 2015/16 there were 30.4 million working days lost due to work-related illness and non-fatal workplace injuries.

In monetary terms this cost business £14.1 billion in 2014/15 – excluding the costs of long latency illnesses, like cancer, and new cases of work-related illness cost £9.3 billion in the same year.

Fatal and non-fatal injuries in numbers

In 2015/16:

  • 0.6 million non-fatal injuries to workers
  • 72,202 non-fatal injuries to employees reported by employers
  • 144 fatal injuries to workers

The annual costs of workplace injury in 2014/15 was £4.8 billion.

The trends behind the figures

Figures alone mean virtually nothing unless you look at them in the context of wider data and comparisons.

Latest Health & Safety Statistics
Latest Health & Safety Statistics

With regard to occupational health, the HSE statistics report shows that there has been a general downward trend in the number of self-reported, work-related ill health disorders – at least until 2011/12 and more recently this rate has been broadly flat.

Similarly, the rate of self-reported stress, depression and anxiety has remained broadly flat for more than a decade.

These statistics indicate that we have reached a plateau, and that new and different approaches need to be adopted when tackling occupational health.

There are projected to be around 2,500 deaths per year from mesothelioma for the rest of this decade before numbers start to decline.

There has been a downward trend in the rate of fatal injury in the long-term, although this seems to have also hit a plateau in recent years.

The majority of fatal injuries come from falls from height, with being struck by moving vehicles coming in a close second.

Comparisons

The UK has the least fatal injuries when compared to other large EU economies, including Germany, Poland, Italy, Spain and France.

However, the UK comes in second place when looking at the percentage of self-reported, work-related injuries and health problems resulting in sick leave.

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construction health and safety

Construction in focus

Two years ago the UK Government published a report on worker well-being in the construction sector, arguing how improvements in this area were not only a target in themselves but also conducive to economic growth. This win/win focus on promoting greater levels of health and safety within the sector, is supported by regulations which govern some of the key operational tasks carried out by construction workers.

These include laws around working at height, which are structured under the basis of avoid, prevent, arrest, requiring employers and self-employed contractors to assess the risks and then organise and plan the work so it is carried out safely.

Work at height is the biggest single cause of serious injury within the construction industry, with over 60 per cent of deaths resulting from falls on a site.

The starting point for planning is for employers to look at where they can avoid working at height. Where this is not possible, they must otherwise prevent or arrest a fall and the potential for serious injury, instructing and training their workforce in the precautions needed.

Method statements are widely used in the construction industry as part of this process. These are a useful way of recording the hazards involved in specific work at height tasks and communicating the risk and precautions required to all those involved in the work. The statement need be no longer than necessary to achieve these objectives effectively. It should also be clear and illustrated with simple sketches, where necessary, avoiding ambiguities or generalisations which could lead to confusion. Statements are for the benefit of those carrying out the work and their immediate supervisors and should not be overcomplicated. Equipment needed for safe working should be clearly identified and available before work starts with clear guidance on what should be done if the work method needs to be changed.

construction-worker-956496_960_720

As well as avoiding work at height operations where it practicable to do so, there are a number of additional precautions employers can put in place. Measures should be taken to prevent a worker from falling a distance which is liable to cause personal injury. This could include erecting a scaffold platform with double guard-rail and toe boards, for example. Installing equipment like safety nets to minimise the distance and consequences of a fall is also vital where work at height cannot be avoided or the fall prevented.

Manual handling is another key area covered by construction law governing the movement of items through lifting, lowering, carrying, pushing or pulling. While the weight of the item is an important issue, employers must also recognise the many other factors, including the number of times an items needs to be picked up or carried or the distance it is carried, as these can enhance the risk of musculoskeletal disorder injuries (MSDs).

MSDs are common construction-related injuries which include damage or disorder of the joints and other tissues in the upper/lower limbs or the back. Statistics from the Labour Force Survey indicate that MSDs, including those caused by manual handling, account for more than a third of all reported work-related illnesses.

The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 require employers to manage these risks on behalf of their employees. This includes avoiding hazardous manual handling operations, moving loads through automated or mechanised processes wherever possible. If it can’t be avoided, a suitable and sufficient risk assessment from hazardous manual handling operations is required which sets out ways of reducing the potential of injury.

It is also important for employers to adopt an ergonomic approach to manual handling across their operations, taking into account the nature of the task, size of the load, the working environment and where and when direct worker participation is necessary.

The HSE has developed a number of supportive resources, including the MAC and the V-MAC tools which help employers analyse lifting, carrying and team handling. The ART tool gives advice and guidance on managing repetitive upper limb tasks, while the RAPP tool covers pushing and pulling requirements on a construction site. Often multiple tools will be required to complete a task. More information on these can be found at the HSE website.

These resources are there to support the wider legislative agenda of further protecting the people who work in the UK construction sector. It’s important for employers to be aware of these rules and use the tools that are available to promote a better working environment.

Source: SHP – Jerry Hill Safety, Head of Consultancy Support for NatWest Mentor, gives an overview of  some of the key topics in health and safety in construction.

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Innovative construction trends to look out for in the future

Innovative construction trends to look out for in the future

The construction marketplace continues to astound us with attractive structures, innovative construction and methods and improved architectural models as more and more construction projects are getting smarter. The rapid development of emerging construction opportunities with high tech machinery and equipment can make high end structures much faster, with lower costs and better buildings and structures. With modern technology and construction trends to continue at pace in the upcoming future, here are some innovative construction trends which would definitely shape and improve construction projects to make the industry and the marketplace more competitive and dynamic.

One smart card to manage all site worker competencies

Detailed 3D Architectural Modeling

Gone are the days when construction buildings needed an architectural plan or blueprint. Now architectural models have become more innovative. Instead of blueprint or 2D drawings, more 3D computer designs are made to provide better visualizations for the clients and provide a clear live picture of how the construction building would look like from all different angles.

Architectural plans have thus become more modernized and innovative and are not limited to the traditional print methods. A basic 3D model outlines specific building models and systems, basic model structural engineering, mechanical and electrical plans, plumbing systems, ductwork and more. Architect designers can ensure that no systems interfere for any drastic or severe consequences and that each and everything is properly in place to make sure that the construction process runs smoothly without causing any severe damage.

Schedule Modeling through the Use of BIM

Many construction companies are adapting the use of BIM (Building Information Modelling) to show owners how digital representations of physical and functional characteristics of the construction may affect schedule deadlines, constructability, construction equipment and machinery or the transportation equipment needed to evaluate large scale options and used them in the construction phase. These modern and scientific digital prints evaluate and review early design concepts if they are viable for the building structure or not.

Integrating the Use of Energy Saving Building Systems in the Construction Phase

Construction companies are increasingly integrating the use of efficient energy saving prospects in early stages of the architectural and construction phases. Builders and architects have to model on how different energy saving solutions or systems will affect the building or construction phase. They also need to conduct a cost analysis and make informed decisions to achieve a higher ROI against the overall building value and if it is a viable option in the future as well.

Making Buildings More Digitalised and Smart

As more digitisation is taking place for businesses as well as in the construction building process, more and more systems are being digitalised for data monitoring and to provide remote access for the owner to make things easier. Such digital technologies are emerging and are on the rise as owners can not only keep track of their facility systems but also automate them whenever they want to. Such systems provide monitoring and security for the owner. The system can allow for the distribution of lighting and can easily be turned on or off at specific zones or reasons to require efficient and smart energy savings for the owners. Such smart and intelligent systems are slowly becoming the norm for the newly developed buildings..

The Flow of Information On-Site

Mosaic Briefing Manager

On-site construction teams need to coordinate with different stakeholders for instructions and guidelines. Thus the use of mobile phones, mobile apps and constant engagement to share information on-site has become a necessary element in the construction process.

Thus, the use of this technology and the constant update about the information saves time, reduces costs and improves upon the reliability and availability of materials from retailers and vendors. Using custom mobile applications; the construction team can draw up plans and evaluations on-site to take fast decisions regarding any complicated problem. Quick pictures can be easily taken and sent out to ask for guidance or advice regarding any difficult on-site or construction problem.

Using UAVs

Integrating the use of (UAVs) Unmanned Aerial vehicles with an on-board camera to take static or moving images and live video feed of the construction project. Construction project teams are exploring its use more while surveying geographical terrains, sites and landscapes to create efficient 3D models of the site prior to the construction phase.

Having UAVs can provide on-site live monitoring, inspections and safer evaluations for difficult terrains or hard to reach landscapes. Such evaluations are most effective for complicated construction projects such as colossal bridges, skyscrapers, huge tunnels or jaw dropping dames. It can also fly on top of the building (80 feet) to provide aerial view and used as marketing tool for investors.

The Use of 3-D Printing

3-D printing can easily generate and print 3-D designs which are necessary for the construction process. A 3-D printer can add and print any small necessary construction equipment layer by layer with correct specification and size dimension details. As construction projects demand 3-D models, and thus 3-D printing comes as a logical future progression. Many high tech construction companies have giant 3-D printers for printing out necessary piping, insulation or difficult installation materials.

It reduces health and safety hazards, use of recyclable materials, waste reduction and the capability to build better construction material with design concepts and correct size dimensions. Some colossal construction projects are already integrating the use of 3D printing for building components.

Enhancing On-Site Safety and Protection

As technological advancement and innovation takes place, so does the dangerous risks associated with the construction procedure. Thus it is important to ensure

What makes a worker competent

that construction projects are executed with safety and protection. Ensuring safety and protection in construction has always been the challenge for construction companies. That is why it is necessary for construction companies to provide workers with protective gear and safe protective clothing to protect them from the harmful on-site dangers that can happen during construction. Many construction companies establish safety guidelines and procedures for workers in order to protect them so that construction jobs are less dangerous and there isn’t any loss of life in the process.

Labour Work Being Automatized

Construction projects involve a lot of repetitive manual labour work which can be easily automated through the use of robots or machinery. More automated technological advancement is taking place to handle exhausting labour work routines such as brick-laying or transporting constructive materials at different construction levels of the building. Implementation of such a technological trend would only require less labour workers and construction companies would only hire skilled labour force that can oversee the work and make sure that everything is being properly executed and implemented.

All such modern and innovative construction trends are more cost effective, sustainable, easier and has a scientific approach in order to execute the project with proper scheduling and using the latest building methods, tools, techniques and technologies so that construction projects are not just built, but are built smart and efficiently to ensure longevity and survival.

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Source: Rachael Everley

Importance of managing and implementing health & safety measures in construction

The issue of health, safety and environment (HSE) remains one of the top priorities in the local, regional and global construction industry.

Efficient health and safety at workplace not only ensures that employees are happy and productive, but can also help to reduce both the human and business costs of injuries and unnecessary lawsuits. By making health and safety the priority, construction companies are effectively communicating that competent employees are a valuable resource in the industry. Additionally, improved health and safety standards help companies become more effective to finish projects on time and improve their business profile with customers and clients. By introducing basic health and safety standards, organisations can understand the human capital benefits this has across the company.

Management must not only provide their workers with the right safety tools at work, but also equip and induct them with understanding on proper use and maintenance of these tools. Several organisations, for instance, focus on educating and explaining HSE rules and regulations to employees, contractors and vendors, as well as utilising industry experience to implement such standards.

HSE standards and technical specifications must first be discussed and implemented before any person steps onto any construction site, whether in an established building or a new site. Also, gaps between local and international HSE standards can be bridged through an approach that involves a method statement, risk assessment and job safety analysis.

  1. Method statement:

A method statement is a standard document widely used in the construction industry. It details specific instructions on how to perform a work-related task, including how to operate a piece of machinery or equipment.

This breakdown of tasks is essential in a workplace where a large part of the workforce is unskilled and lacks general knowledge in HSE standards. In addition, the method statement includes how this process should be completed for both employees and contractors throughout the duration of the project. A method statement features a step-by-step process on how to implement HSE standards, must be prepared for each task on a particular worksite and then included in the overall construction safety plan, ensuring that HSE standards have been taken into account for every section of the project. The document is a testament to the fact that workers are a priority, which in turn means they will remain happier and more productive.

Another vital component of the method statement is considering worker welfare and the long-term benefits that this has on raising the health and safety standards throughout the industry. Considering that many labourers come from countries where their worksite safety is not treated as a key concern, it is important to educate workers with the basics of HSE standards.

  1. Risk assessment:
Fatigue Management is one of many things Project Managers have to stay on top of
Fatigue Management is one of many things Project Managers have to stay on top of

Risk assessment determines the quantitative or qualitative value of risk on a particular worksite and any recognised hazards. Risk assessment is a core component of HSE standards and is also an opportunity to focus on what might cause serious harm to people, and determine whether an organisation or company is taking the necessary preventative measures to tackle it. During a risk assessment, there is a valuable opportunity to identify sensible measures to control in the workplace and to think about how accidents may happen and concentrate on the very real risks that are involved.

Most accidents are more likely due to the lack of workers’ knowledge of health and safety. However, the problem can be addressed through regular training programmes and safety talks.

Risk assessment can be broken down further into two parts: a hazard, anything that may cause harm; and the risk, the chance that an individual may be harmed by a hazard along with a suggestion as to how serious this harm could be. An organisation should concentrate on both of these components as HSE standards remain applicable to all aspects of the construction industry.

  1. Job safety analysis:

Job safety analysis focuses on identifying and controlling workplace hazards, and aims to prevent personal injury to any operative working there or that may be passing by. During this phase, the company determines which job/task needs to be analysed as a risk or hazard, followed by breaking this down into a step-by-step sequence. This ensures that nothing is missed, and health and safety remain integral parts of each and every job. It is important to follow it up by categorising potential hazards, with the final step being implementing measures to overcome these hazards. Once more, by focusing on identifying and controlling workplace hazards, workers’ welfare remains at the core importance of a construction organisation. This then leads to motivated workers who understand the implications of these hazards and how to avoid personal injury.  

The role of management:

snip_20161010124149 product infoWhile method statement, risk assessment and job safety analysis are critical parts of HSE standards, this must be coupled with the role of management and their workers’ welfare. All these factors combined will help successfully implement HSE standards for the long-term benefit of organisations and more importantly workers. Instilling the knowledge and understanding of HSE standards among unskilled labourers through proper induction and training should start by focusing on the basics. This includes giving an overview of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which is a another vital component of onsite safety and refers to protective clothing, safety reflective vests, safety helmets, hard hats, goggles or other garments or equipment that are designed to protect the wearer’s body from injury.

This overview must be done in basic terms and include a demonstration; with simple, supporting images to reiterate their point; along with a construction manager who can communicate it in the best way. This gives the workers an opportunity to ask any additional questions and further familiarise themselves with HSE standards. By implementing these measures, workers become more proactive when it comes to health and safety and what it really means to them. Some safety issues under management’s role include proper signage on site, and warning the workers and other visitors about potentially dangerous parts on site.

Source: Construction News

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snip_20161010124456 about us

A14 represents a huge Joint Venture projects in the constrction sector

A14 Extension – Online Competency & Site Management Systems making this more than just a road

A14 represents a huge Joint Venture projects in the constrction sector
A14 represents a huge Joint Venture project that will entail complex management processes between its partners

The government has now committed up to £1.5 billion investment to improve the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon and Mosaic Management Systems is at the heart of this project with its integrated site management software. This vital road upgrade will eventually relieve congestion, unlock growth and help to connect communities.

The project includes a major new bypass to the south of Huntingdon, widening part of the existing A14 between Swavesey and Girton, widening part of the A14 Cambridge northern bypass, widening a section of the A1 between Brampton and Alconbury and demolition of the A14 viaduct at Huntingdon.

The Joint Venture consortium that was awarded the contract comprises of Costain, Skanska, Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Atkins and CH2M. The Integrated Delivery Team (IDT) represented by Highways England and the six major contractors wanted to use the services of a single online platform to manage its site access, working practises and employee training, whereby contractors were issued with site cards working in conjunction with Smart Phone Apps and PDA hand held devices.

The IDT have stated from the outset that their aims is to deliver an exemplar project across the board for its client. Following on from a rigorous tender process that was seeking an innovative solution for site management, the Mosaic suite of products was chosen. The system was favoured over other solutions because it provides the client with a flexible and unique online platform to record all contractor activity on site encompassing Induction Management, CMS/Skill Gap analysis, fatigue & risk management, access integration, assessment & training, and stock & asset control via issued smart cards.

Mosaic Management Systems Managing Director John Micciche commented by saying:

snip_20161010124456 about us“We are extremely pleased to win this tender on such a prestigious project, as it will showcase how our online system can provide an end to end solution, while delivering across a dynamic working environment for the life of the project.”

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White Paper: Further empowering a competent workforce in the construction sector

WHITE PAPER: Further empowering a competent workforce in the construction sector

One of the most misused words used in the construction industry is ‘competent person’, as any construction site manager after completing a one day IOSH working safely course could consider him or herself as a competent person. Clearly just because they have done a one-day course does not necessarily make them competent as this is built upon as experience grows.

In this document we will look at the concept of the ‘competent person’, but apply it across the whole workforce and not only to supervisory roles. It will discuss how this is checked and managed in terms of induction, checking competencies and ensuring workers remain safe on site. The paper will also serve to highlight on-site management opportunities utilising smart technologies that could assist site and project managers to help nurture workers to improve in the ‘competent person’ role. After all, the aim is for all workers to be competent in the jobs they perform and be able to assess hazards and either rectify them or report them should they be insurmountable.

Firstly, we will delve into some industry definitions of what a competent person is, albeit within the context of supervisory roles. These provide useful definitions about what we should also expect from our workforce to a degree. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) defines a competent person as:

“someone who has sufficient training and experience or knowledge and other qualities that allow them to assist you properly. The level of competence required will depend on the complexity of the situation and the particular help you need.”

However, in the definition of competent in the HSE Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 competent means:

“to perform any requirement and avoid contravening any prohibition imposed on a person by or under any of the relevant statutory provisions”.

Which means someone who:

  • is able to perform a job effectively
  • can identify whether their surroundings or work area is hazardous or dangerous not only to themselves but others
  • has the knowledge and authorisation to take corrective action quickly.

Looking at the two industry definitions in terms of what is a competent person in the construction industry, it becomes apparent that both definitions have merit. The English dictionary definition of competent is someone who is ‘efficient and capable’. Effectively having the nouse to undertake work in an efficient and safe manner. This definition is probably more fitting for the workforce as a whole, as they are not mandated unlike supervisors. Yet, being a competent person isn’t just about the level of training a person has received. Nor is it simply a matter of being in a managerial role and certainly not just a matter of being designated.

Competent person vs. Qualified person

In addition to a competent person, the HSE and other international regulatory standards sanction the designation of a ‘qualified person’.  Experts are quick to point out that although the two have some similarities, notable differences also exist.

While a competent person on site should be able to identify hazards around them and has the authority to take action to mitigate them, a qualified person is required to have a recognised qualification such as a degree, certificate etc. The former might also have considerable experience and capability to solve problems that arise, including technical knowledge or interpersonal skills for a specific work place issue. For example, in a trenching operation, a competent person must be able to identify hazards within the operation and solve those issues; a qualified person however has the knowledge to design the protective system in the trench.

In this paper we want to further explore what the legal obligations are towards a workforce, to not only help them perform their job to a high standard, but to go about their tasks in a safe manner. The vast majority of site workers won’t have the mandate and knowledge to take quick action like those in supervisory roles, but they should be able to recognise hazards, stop work and report incidents straight away.

Contractors duty of care

Principal contractors obviously have a legally binding duty of care to their workforce, whether they are employees or contractors. It is undoubtedly their responsibility to ensure they have the necessary skills, knowledge, training and experience to do the job safely and without putting their own or others’ health and safety at risk. It is also in their interest to ensure their workforce is both efficient and safety conscious from a profitability and operational perspective.

The workforce must be supervised and given clear instructions to perform their tasks safely using the right tools, equipment, plant, materials and protective clothing. They must be briefed (or their representatives) about health and safety issues, while making arrangements for employees’ health surveillance where required.

We are fortunate that we live in an age where company and brand reputation is crucial to maintaining credibility within the sector – and exemplary health and safety records play a key role in maintaining this. Beyond reputation, most top players now recognise that those who take safety seriously and invest more in worker safety really do achieve better profitability than contractors who spend less on safety. In a recent US survey of 250 contractors, conducted by Dodge Data & Analytics (in partnership with the Center for Construction Research and Training and United Rentals), they found a strong correlation between safety levels and profitability.

It all goes to prove that getting the right people, with the right skills, in the right place at the right time, is no mean feat. Moreover, it is about achieving this in an efficient and cost effective way. In addition, monitoring workforce performance and remedying any shortcomings is part of an ongoing process until the job is completed. Along the way there is usually a certain level of churn of staff, so new members of the workforce need to be inducted and brought into the project constantly.

What the Research says

In a recent HSE report entitled ‘The effectiveness of HSE’s regulatory approach: The construction example – 2016 (RR1082)’ a detailed omnibus survey was conducted amongst 5000 plus site workers, who were asked a number of questions about their accident, ill health experiences and understanding of health and safety risks. In order to probe a bit more on certain questions in the wider study, a booster survey of 500 construction workers was then undertaken.

HSE Research
HSE Research was conducted amongst 5000 plus site workers

On issues of competence, questions targeted both construction professionals and separately skilled trades personnel. It asked both their understanding of health and safety risks and the degree of motivation they demonstrate to become involved in improving H&S management. What is gratifying to see in the results was that understanding attributed to the two parties is similar, with 96% and 98% respectively judged to have a good understanding.

However, the responses have also shifted with time (as this is tracking research conducted over the years) to the strongly agree more than tend to agree which is testament to the good practice within the industry underpinned by the HSE and legislation. The motivation to keep improving H&S has been judged to be slightly higher for professionals but only marginally so (86% versus 81% for skilled trades). This clearly shows a willingness among the workforce to be not only actively involved in Health and Safety on projects, but also improvements in process. The paper continues to explore how this can be done effectively within a framework that can be somewhat managed.

How do these requirements and definitions actually translate into the working environment?

If a ‘competent person’ understands the process involved in performing the work, safety isn’t that much more of a challenge as they can assess jobs prior to starting, while auditing safety as they go along. A knowledgeable supervisor should know what tools will be required for a job as should a worker. The same can be said for what’s required to accomplish it safely. If you know that some of the work will be performed above ground, you know you’ll need the right equipment to facilitate that.

Therefore, planning safety is as critical as executing it. Many contractors have written safety programs. While they may be very comprehensive, the day-to-day implementation of those programs gets back to performance (or non-performance) by the competent person or persons.

The frequency of safety inspections, by supervisors, is invariably based on the degree of hazards at a project. All of which requires paperwork making constant invigilation of the site impossible. What is possible though, is a competent person’s understanding that if specific work rules are regularly spelled out, those rules are uniformly enforced, and hazards get eliminated as they are identified, the workers themselves will often become competent persons – shouldering a lot of the burden in the process.

An example of this can once again be seen in the HSE report referred to earlier. From a list of mechanisms around management and worker involvement suggested to respondents of which one or more might be present on site, response levels across the period were of the order of:

  1. Regular safety briefings / toolbox talks – 95%
  2. A near miss reporting system – 86%
  3. An employee H&S suggestion scheme – 51%
  4. Workforce safety representatives – 49%
  5. Safety committee – 33%
  6. Incentive / reward scheme – 12%

These results reflect how prevalent and important schemes like toolbox talks and having a system to report near miss accidents are to the safe running of construction sites in the modern era. What is equally important is that now the vast majority of workers now expecting them to be present to maintain high health and safety standards.

To sum up this section, we can say that more of a health & safety culture has certainly permeated the building industry over the last decade, which has been reflected in the work the HSE does and the level of accidents and fatalities witnessed on site. The workforce is certainly an integral part of this health & safety culture and the improvements that have been seen, along with a commitment from the principle contractor to not tolerate shoddy work practices. The HSE research suggests the workforce have ever high expectations about health and safety schemes on site and are increasingly motivated to be part of these to ensure everyone is protected. This is something that should be harnessed and nurtured to both improve safety levels and also productivity.

While the role of the experienced and well-trained supervisors in the role of the ‘competent person’ is essential to ensure best practice around H&S being enforced, it is inevitably the workforce will be shouldering some of the responsibility to ensure safety practices are adhered to. Therefore, it is essentially that a competent workforce is employed on projects and empowered through site initiatives to ensure best practice is realized safe working practices for all. In order to empower the workforce in the H&S culture, management needs to look for solutions that can, check qualifications, record H&S activities and help police the project site.

What do we need to support management and the workforce to better empower them and further adopt best practice on site?

Due to the sheer size of projects that have been undertaken in the UK over the last decade and in the future these are likely to be more sizable, management now more than ever need technological support to help them monitor the workforce and ensure best practice and H&S messages are communicated. Throw in Joint Ventures and Super JV’s, such as the soon to be started A14, to already complex working arrangements, and the risk around managing a disparate and fluid workforce multiplies.

While it is well documented that the take up of technologies to aid the UK construction industry has been slow, KPMG albeit in a global study (Building a Technological Advantage – Global Construction Study 2016) found that fewer than one in 10 construction companies are at the sharp end of technology and most just follow on behind, trying to keep up. It finds the construction industry is struggling to employ the full benefits of technologies like advanced data and analytics, mobile telephony, automation and robotics. To provide a bit more context the study finding were broken down into regions with the Americas and Europe being the most technologically advanced.

In order to provide seamless solutions to further empower the ‘competent workforce’ across complex projects then companies will be forced to look for technological solutions to provide leadership. In addition to the macro-economic pressures on the industry currently, skills shortages will add another dimension of difficulty when it comes to managing projects and recruiting the right workforce.

Those companies that have already employed and integrated smart technology will continue to employ seamless systems that help them not only manage competencies, but all facets for site management. The market is growing so penetration of such systems is likely to continue, particularly among the bigger players in the industry. This means key activities and touch points within the workforce will be recorded against an individual’s records from the outset. These include documentation to prove the following:

Competent worker in the construction industry

  1. Has the worker correct basic qualifications to enter work site?
  2. Have the correct qualifications for the tasks been gained?
  3. Is the worker Fit for Work?
  4. Have they been comprehensively inducted?
  5. Do they receive regular updates and safety briefings?
  6. Have they been regularly assessed on skill sets?
  7. Do they successfully follow a skills improvement program?
  8. Are they regularly assessed on knowledge?

To conclude, help is at hand for the majority of the industry to start to make headway. The technology laggards within the sector will be pleased to hear that user friendly solutions do come in the form of cloud based, smart card operated ‘Competency Management Systems’. Vetting of qualifications can be undertaken at a pre, during and post induction stage. This dovetails into password protected Occupational Health information where medical parts of employee records must be isolated and access restricted to certain key project personnel. To build on knowledge and skills gained this in turn can be linked into an all-encompassing Learning Management System (LMS) that can deliver online training etc.

One smart card to manage all site worker competencies
One smart card to manage all site worker competencies

Within the LMS further assessment around the accuracy of employee knowledge can be gained via a product like Mosaic Perception. They identify risk that can be prevalent through misplaced confidence, lack of skills or simply bad practice. The customisable online assessments, consultancy services and workforce risk solution, enable our clients to identify, manage and mitigate this risk.

Site access is covered via a simple smart card entry scanner allowing for a record of each employee’s time and attendance to be captured during the duration of

a project. This can help alleviate issues around workers in critical safety roles and fatigue management, as alerts can be issued to prevent double shifting and the such like. In addition, the all-important safety and toolbox talk briefings that workers now even expect can all be recorded at the point of delivery. Throw in the opportunity to manage stock and plant equipment and even the issuing of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) make for a powerful site management tool.

With such systems Health and Safety remains a high priority as the smart card promotes best practice rituals to both supervisors and the workforce. In turn this will empower workers further and free up supervisor time as all activities can be recorded on a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) or mobile device. From a management perspective all activity is turned into numerical reporting with alerts set when parameters are breached. All data collected can then be transported to the next and project and or partnership arrangement. The age of the consistently competent workforce is truly upon us!

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