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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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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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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technology adoption in the construction industry

Construction industry not taking advantage of technology, says KPMG survey

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

Fewer than one in ten construction companies are at the sharp end of technology and most just follow on behind, trying to keep up. That’s the conclusion of a report from management consultant KPMG International, which finds the construction industry is struggling to employ the full benefits of technologies like advanced data and analytics, mobile telephony, automation and robotics

KPMG conducted a survey of more than 200 senior construction executives for its report, Building a technology advantage – Global Construction Survey 2016.

Who took part:

— 218 senior executives: 119 from major project owners, and 99 from a range of engineering and construction companies

— Participating organizations included both private (listed) companies and government agencies

— Respondents’ companies’ turnover ranged from less than US$1 billion to more than US$20 billion

— Owner entities came from many industries including energy and natural resources, technology and healthcare

Only 8% of the construction companies could rank as ‘cutting edge technology visionaries’; 64% of contractors and 73% of project owners rank as ‘industry followers’ or ‘behind the curve’ when it comes to technology.

Richard Threlfall, UK head of infrastructure, building and construction at KPMG, said: “The survey responses reflect the industry’s innate conservatism towards technologies, with most businesses content to follow, rather than lead,” said. “Many lack a clear technology strategy, and either adopt it in a piecemeal fashion, or not at all.”

Two-thirds of the global survey respondents believe project risks are increasing, yet fewer than 20% of respondents said they are ‘aggressively disrupting their business models’.

construction companies adopting technology
construction companies adopting technology take-up %

“Projects around the world are becoming bigger, bolder and more complex, and with complexity comes risk,” said Mr Threlfall. “Innovations like remote monitoring, automation and visualisation have enormous potential to speed up project delivery, reduce costs and improve safety.”

According to the KPMG, engineering and construction firms, and project owners, are not exploiting available data to its full potential. Almost two-thirds of those surveyed do not use advanced data analytics for project-related estimation and performance monitoring. Moreover, only a quarter of respondents said that they were able to ‘push one button’ to get all their project information. Even fewer claim to have a single, integrated project management information system across the enterprise.

“Integrated, real-time project reporting is still a myth, rather than a reality for most. That’s largely because firms tend to use multiple software platforms that are manually monitored and disconnected, which severely compromises their effectiveness,” said Mr Threlfall.

Mobile telephony is another technology with potential to analyse and track performance for construction projects. Most survey respondents were using remote monitoring for projects sites, but fewer than 30% said they routinely made use of mobile devices on all their projects, while a similar proportion do not use mobile platforms at all.

Similarly, only a third said they were using robotics and automation.

Richard Threlfall concluded: “Harnessing the true potential of technology requires construction companies and project owners to get clearer about their technology vision and strategy. The rapidly evolving infrastructure challenges of the next decade demands both owners and engineering and construction firms embrace technology more strategically and at a far more rapid pace than in the past.”

When we look at the results from a regional perspective Europe is leading the way when it comes to adopting (37%) new technologies into their construction processes. However, it must be caveated by the fact that Americas companies are slightly more visionary (10% compared to 7% in Europe).

global view by region of construction companies adopting new technolog
global view by region of construction companies adopting new technology %

Mosaic Management Systems provides health and safety site management software that offers you an online and flexible solution to on boarding, competency management, access control, asset management, stock control, fatigue management and toolbox talks. Please follow the link to find out more about us and how we can assist your business in adopting new working practices.

Source: Construction News

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virtual reality and health and safety in the construction industry

Virtual reality looking to improve health and safety in the construction sector

While architectural practices and design companies continue to explore the possibilities of virtual reality being incorporated into their design process, the construction and safety sectors might soon also be about to also embrace the area with a number of new products being developed.

At the CIOB and BRE industry event called ‘Accelerate to Innovate’ a number of the innovative ideas involving the use of Virtual Reality and construction were applauded by the judges. The event held showcased two products using this technology that will be able to help improve safety on construction sites as well as possibly help in the training of high risk situations.

The first product allows wearers to conduct “real” physical tasks while fully immersed in virtual environments. It is based on relatively affordable hardware. The second product provides trainees and workers with “real-life” scenarios on high-risk jobs, as a more effective way of preparing them for work on site. Scenarios could be created to suit any situation the client wants e.g. testing the knowledge of the ‘slingers and signallers’, the role responsible for hooking up crane loads and communicating with the driver to move it safely.

These products potentially gives us a glimpse into the future of construction. It aims to improve on-site health and safety behaviour by delivering a virtual site experience based on actual project models using a headset and video game technology. Activities can be benchmarked and situations adapted to individual needs. By putting the “wearer” into the actual experience of witnessing potential site accidents, it is hoped that this will change behaviour compared to traditional training.

Mosaic Management Systems provides health and safety compliant site management software that offers you an online and flexible solution to on boarding, competency management, access control, asset management, stock control, fatigue management and toolbox talks.

Source: CIOB

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Card security and onsite access to construction site

10 survey facts about onsite card checking and fraud

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) joined forces with the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) to conduct an industry-wide survey aimed at assessing card scheme fraud and card checking procedures on UK construction sites in 2015. The use of fake cards in the construction industry had been brought  to our attention through the press by the National Crime Agency’s prosecution of an organised gang dealing in false identity documentation, which included a number of construction industry certification cards. 

All workers on construction sites must hold the correct qualifications and training for the type of work they carry out. Increasingly so employers need to be confident that if they are shown a card it is legitimate and that the person showing it has the appropriate qualifications to be carrying out their job onsite. 1180 construction workers nationally were survey online about card checking methods and the prevalence of fake cards – the results were certainly interesting. Here is a precise of the results:

  1. 82% (4 out of 5 workers) hold a skill certification card
  2. The vast majority of those (92%) are Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS), while a further 20% hold the Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) as well.
  3. 44% (nearly one in two workers) said their cards were only checked the first time they went on site, while 19% said they were checked occasionally and 14% never.
  4. Only one on five workers (21%) face regular checks while on site.
  5. When cards were checked on site, for the most part it is to see the card has the right name and was in date. Only half of respondents stated that the card was checked to see if it was the right card and that the worker had the correct qualifications for the job.
  6. Most enforcers of card checks tend to either just use visual checks (19%), where the information is not recorded, or utilised a paper based system (69%).
  7. 6% use smart technology to ensure the access is valid, with a further 19% checking on an online database.
  8. A third of all the respondents were actualy responsible for checking cards, with 18% of this group saying they had come across fake cards. Both unskilled workers (10%) and skilled workers (10%) are the two main skill levels which construction workers have seen on fake cards.
  9. Most of these cards were detected due to the poor quality of reproduction or that the photo did not match up with the owner of the card at the time (51% and 49% respectively). 51% did not register online when checked, with a further 4% not showing up on the smart technology employed on site.
  10. Workers are more likely to hold the relevant card within the larger construction organisations, however on site it tends to be non-workers and visitors that are a group least checked.

CSCS Chief Executive Graham Wren said: “Unless people use consistent and accurate methods of checking cards to certificate workers’ training and qualifications, the schemes cannot fulfil the roles they were designed for.  The smart technology within CSCS cards is a simple and cost-effective way to do this, and we are keen to find out more about how it is being utilised on sites across the UK.”

Mosaic Management Systems is an IT partner with CSCS, and provides health and safety site management software that offers you an online and flexible solution to on boarding, competency management, access control, asset management, stock control, fatigue management and toolbox talks.

To contact us to consult further with one of our representatives about your onsite access and competency management issues click here.

Source: CITB/CSCS – Card Fraud and Onsite Card Checking Survey 2015

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UK construction industry

What will the Impact of Brexit on Construction really be?

I think it is fair to say that no one can accurately predict with any great precision what the impact of Brexit will be on the UK just yet, even though we are starting to slowly see data emerge that may give us an indication for the short term. An interesting article by Euan McLeod and Kirsteen Milne working for Shepherd & Wedderburn LLP attempts to unravel what the impact of this monumental decision will have on the construction industry, a crucial sector within the UK economy.

From a legislative perspective they feel that Brexit is unlikely to cause any immediate change, although in the future it may give the UK more flexibility in relation to its environmental and health and safety legislation in particular. The extent of any changes will be dependent on the nature of the new relationship with Europe and/or membership of the EEA/EFTA, and it remains to be seen how this will impact on workers within the construction industry.

Mosaic Management Systems provides health and safety site management software that offers you an online and flexible solution to on boarding, competency management, access control, asset management, stock control, fatigue management and toolbox talks.

To find out more about the company please follow the link.

Top 8 Health & Safety risks found on construction sites

The construction industry accident fatality rate stands at twice that of other sectors. Construction sites are therefore callenging places from a health and safety perspective – almost every conceivable hazard exists within this constantly changing working environment.

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However the hazards associated with construction sites are well known and luckily most responsible employers are aware of their duty of care to employees, visitors, and those that may be affected by their activities, and will manage the site effectively, implementing appropriate accident prevention measures.

Listed below are just a few of the main hazards that are encountered on a typical construction site:

1. Working at Height

The construction of buildings invariably requires tradesmen to work at height. Fatalities and injuries involving height relating factors account for many accidents each year. The risks associated with working at a height are often increased by additional access and mobility restrictions.

2. Moving Objects

A construction site is always on the move; hazards are inherent to this industry and only increase as a construction project progress. Construction sites are busy places what with the shear volume of constantly moving vehicles and trades people – overhead lifting equipment shifting heavy loads, supply vehicles, dumper trucks everywhere, manoeuvring around a usually uneven terrain. Site layout is crucial to ensure a smooth flow or goods, materials and the workforce around it to ensure all remain safe. Correct access controls that accurately record entry and exit along with a comprehensive induction go a long way to maintaining safety on site.

4. Slips, Trips, & Falls

When you consider all the activities going on around the site at any one time it is unsurprising that slips, trips, and falls happen frequently. Construction sites are place of holes in the ground, buildings at various stages of completion, scaffolding, stored materials and equipment: you really do need to have your wits about you at all times. Proper training in the form of briefings and tool box talks can be carried out by site managers to ensure workers are made aware of these dangers in general and that can be unique to each site. These should be recorded in a useable format to ensure everyone has been briefed and the message has been tailored to different workers as well.

5. Noise

Noise is a major hazard on site. Excessive noise causes over a period can cause long term hearing problems and can be a dangerous distraction, the cause of accidents. Employers are required to carry out and document a comprehensive noise risk assessment – and issue appropriate PPE (Protective Protection Equipment).

6. Material & Manual Handling

Materials and equipment is being constantly lifted and moved around on a construction site, whether manually or by the use of lifting equipment. Different trades will involve greater demands, but all may involve some degree of risk. Where employee’s duties involve manual handling, then adequate training must be carried out. Where lifting equipment is used, then adequate training must also be carried out, but may involve some form of test, to confirm competency. Records of training must be maintained for verification and kept up to date.

7. Airborne Fibres & Materials – Respiratory Diseases

Construction sites cause a lot of dust, some of which can be toxic mix of hazardous materials and fibres that can damage the lungs. Often the dust is invisible and fine. Just issuing PPE is not enough…employers have a duty to ensure protective equipment is actually used. Failure to do so could render an employee to disciplinary action and in hot water with the health and safety executive. All this activity needs to be logged in a central location for future reference.

8. Electricity

On average, three construction industry workers are electrocuted each year during refurbishment work on commercial and domestic buildings. People working near overhead power lines and cables are also at risk. There are also a growing number of electrocutions involving workers who are not qualified electricians but who are carrying electrical work, such as plumbers and joiners and decorators. Competencies need to be checked prior to contractors coming on site and off limit areas need to be highlighted as part of the induction process.

Mosaic Software – Making Site Management Easier

Behind every construction project there is a need to successfully induct workers, monitor site access and check competencies. Mosaic does all of this and more via an online Network Passport and Smart Card system. With this system one card really does open up a world of innovative site management possibilities.

Please click here to read more about how we can help you manage your projects

Definition of a ‘Competent Person’ in Construction

A Misused Word

One of the most misused words used in the construction industry is ‘competent person’1.  Any construction site manager after completing a one day IOSH Working safely course2 may consider him or herself as a competent person.  Sometimes a job title such as ‘site manager’ makes someone to be considered as a competent person.

So what is the correct definition of a competent person?

HSE3 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 20154 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.

Basically in terms of a competent person in the construction industry, this means that the individual is knowledgeable and in charge. 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 just not matter of being designated.

Knowledge and Action

A competent person in construction is one who:

  1. Knows the hazard is likely to exist
  2. Knows how to control and eliminate the hazard
  3. Has been given authority to promptly correct the hazards

Experts say that a competent person should not be chosen lightly. This is because he or she needs to be qualified to identify and tackle the hazards associated with a particular operation.  For instance, if work is being performed on scaffolding, the competent person must be knowledgeable about scaffolding hazards.  This knowledge can usually come from a combination of person’s skills, experience and training.

The Role of the Competent Person

The role of competent person has traditionally fallen on the shoulders of first line supervisors.  However, the first line supervisor is often least prepared for the task. It may be that he or she isn’t capable of recognising a particular hazard. That they don’t know the right way to tackle a hazard.  Or they haven’t been given sufficient resources to deal with the hazard, or they simply don’t want to deal with it. In overseeing the work for quality, scheduling and other requirements, the supervisor often fails to recognise the critical importance of identifying and correcting hazards promptly.  As a consequence, that person, regardless of any kind of designation or training, simply isn’t being competent for purposes of HSE – more importantly, preventing accidents.

Number of Hazards

The frequency of inspections for safety is based on the degree of hazards at a project. On one day, a competent person will be in the site office catching up on necessary paperwork, and the next, three contractors will be working on top of each other requiring greater attention to safety oversight.

At all places at all times if hazards are always coming and going, how can one possibly predict every unsafe act or condition?  The answer again is simple. One can’t.  What is possible however, is a competent person’s understanding that if specific work rules and guidelines are regularly spelled out and are uniformly enforced, then hazards can get eliminated as they are identified. This allows the workers themselves to become competent – shouldering a lot of the safety burden in the process.

As Judith Hackitt, HSE’s Chair said5,

the essence of competence is relevance to the workplace. What matters is that there is a proper focus on both the risks that occur most often and those with serious consequences. Competence is the ability for every director, manager and worker to recognise the risks in operational activities and then apply the right measures to control and manage those risks.”

Competent person vs. Qualified person

In addition to a competent person, some 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 exist6.

While a competent person 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. They might also have considerable experience and capability to solve problems that arise, including possibly 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.

It may be possible for a single individual to be both a qualified person and competent person, but it may not be possible for every situation.  In the end, a competent person may not be a qualified person just because of the different degree of knowledge and training that’s required but they do need to demonstrate they are competent in the role they have been given.

Sources

1 Main source for this article Safety and Health Magazine http://www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/what-is-a-competent-person-2

2 IOSH Working safely course https://www.iosh.co.uk/Training/IOSH-training-courses/Working-safely-course.aspx#coursedetail

3 HSE a Competent Person http://www.hse.gov.uk/involvement/competentperson.htm

4 HSE Managing Health and Safety in Construction: Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/l153.htm

5 HSE On what is competence http://www.hse.gov.uk/competence/what-is-competence.htm

6 Safety and Health Magazine http://www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/what-is-a-competent-person-2

 

Mosaic tackles fraud and increases productivity

Mosaic has established themselves as the number one in their market-place as a construction, project and site management Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software and business intelligence company utilising smart technologies.

On initial deployment of Mosaic on a major UK construction project, Mosaic software and smart technology was quickly able to uncover fraudulent industry cards which were being used on that site, enabling the contractor to take action to protect the integrity of that project.

Mosaic is a unique competency management system that has the ability to provide one solution for both singular or multiple sites that can stand-alone or integrate with other systems such as CSCS. Mosaic provides a comprehensive Network Passport that encompasses all competency records, across a variety of multi-disciplinary sectors. Mosaic focuses on optimising safety, security and productivity by using a range of Mobile Technology, Biometrics, Access Control and Smart Cards to record and report on site workers’ competencies.

Mosaic manages qualifications, ongoing assessments, inductions, professional development and training, resulting in overall improvement of efficiency and productivity.

Mosaic has an impressive re-subscribe rate with industry leading construction companies on small and large projects, showing that its essential products are vital to their clients overall induction, compliance, fraud detection and operational processes, thereby saving them time, money and reducing accidents through improved health and safety.

Mosaic ensures clients have the most effective solution for having the right people with the right skills at the right time, resulting in enhanced efficiency and minimal competency issues.

To benefit from our smart technologies, protect your project and your workers, visit Mosaic at www.mosaicmanagementsystems.co.uk or call us on Tel: 1509 269 669.