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Engaging visions

Poor communication between management and workers often leads to  construction accidents. A new DVD from ConstructionSkills aims to change that.

Recent research for the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) by Glasgow Caledonian University found that a lack of communication between management and the workforce was an ongoing problem that led to construction accidents.       

As a result, sector skills council ConstructionSkills and construction trade union UCATT have been working together to address the root causes of the behaviour patterns that lead to accidents.       

The result is a DVD showing how communication between site managers and operatives can drastically increase health and safety awareness, and reduce accidents. The DVD also demonstrates how effective worker engagement and a step change in the behaviours of those working on site can help to increase turnover.       

The interview-led, 30 minute film examines all levels of a variety of businesses, speaking to managing directors, foremen and operatives, and offers working examples of how accidents have fallen as a result of effective worker engagement.   The HSE was also involved in developing the DVD, which has been identified by the Strategic Forum for Construction’s worker engagement group as the best toolkit on the market.       

“This toolkit aims to encourage firms to take on-site health and safety a step further and implement worker engagement at a higher level in order to help eliminate the number of accidents across the industry,” says ConstructionSkills head of health, safety and environment Kevin Fear.        

“We have already seen evidence that worker engagement is vital in terms of driving down accident and fatality rates, and as the industry’s sector skills council, we want to promote this across the board using this film as a guide. With entire workforces becoming more open and honest, both productivity and safety can be improved.”       

The DVD cites examples from smaller players such as Heyrod Construction to major contractors such as Carillion.   Heyrod Construction IMS manager Mike Routledge says: “In 2005 we implemented a strategy which greatly reduced the level of accidents.        

All of our supervisors attend the Site Supervisor Health and Safety Training Scheme and the processes we have put in place to help increase communication and awareness around health and safety within the firm have led to a noticeable improvement in the way we operate.        

“And it’s not just us who have experienced a positive shift. Our clients are happier than ever with our work as a result of the health and safety procedures we have implemented.        

“It has impacted significantly on our turnover that has increased from £40M to £95M, which is extremely encouraging given the current economic climate.”       

Carillion IMS north west manager Glenn Christiansen has a similar view: “Our workforce has first-hand experience of the way things need to be done. They spot the hazards and problems, often long before we do. It’s essential, therefore, that we use them to control risks on site.  “Through an initiative we call ‘Don’t Walk By’ and safety action groups, we have seen a significant reduction in the number of accidents, with no reported accidents occurring within the past year [for that project]. This has now become an intrinsic part of our company philosophy, and we have a goal to be completely accident-free by 2010.”       

  • The first 20 copies of the DVD are free on a first come first served basis after which it will cost £20. Call 0344 994 4122 for details.       

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