In this hard-fought category, Berkeley homes just pipped its rivals to the post


Berkeley Homes

Berkeley Homes’ pioneering contractor procurement system so impressed our judging panel that it had to give the Surrey-based housebuilder top prize in this category. The Contract Management System ensures that everybody working on a Berkeley Homes development has undergone a thorough background check into its health and safety record and policies, and principal contractors undergo a rigorous audit. This is all stored on a centralised database to keep records up to date. More than 1100 firms have undergone this process, and all enjoy continued support from Berkeley in the form of regular health and safety training courses, and open forums. Any firm that is struggling to keep up with standards has a two-day visit from Berkeley’s safety team to carry out a strategic review, sort out the problem and get them back on track. The upshot of all this is that Berkeley’s accident incident rate is down from 2.8 to 0.8 injuries per 1000 employees as of June 2004.

‘Any firm that is struggling to keep up with Berkeley’s standards has a visit from the firm’s safety team to carry out a review, sort out the problem and get them back on track’


Allison Homes

Working in conjunction with the HSE, Allison Homes has embarked on the Worker Engagement Initiative, which it says aims to “give every construction worker the right to work in a place where risks to their health and safety are properly controlled”. To this end, a series of systems have been put into place – some big, some small but crucial, all of which our judges loved. Lockable water butts, for example, to avoid the risk of children drowning on the off-chance they manage to get onto the site. Another is the colour-coded services markers used when trenches are back-filled, to clearly mark the line that the services follow – yellow for gas, blue for water and so on. This gives a constant reminder of the hazards below ground and can be understood by anybody no matter what their language – and even site visitors. And Allison Homes is ensuring that every employee gets behind its Worker Engagement Initiative (hence the name) – from managing director to site labourer.

‘It is ensures every employee gets behind its safety initiative’

Cala Homes East

Sometimes the simplest solutions work the best. Recognising that slips, trips and falls make up a staggering proportion of construction accidents, CALA looked at how to minimise the risks to operatives when moving materials between ground and first-floor level; after all, carrying a stack of timber up a ladder isn’t exactly ideal. So the firm came up with the temporary access stair, a proper metal staircase that can be craned into the right position. Emblazoned with the mantra “Think safety”, the stair has adjustable legs to accommodate uneven flooring and detachable handrails to reduce its weight in case it has to be manually installed and dismantled. It makes carrying that timber up to first-floor level a whole lot easier, and much, much safer.

‘CALA looked at how to minimise the risks when moving materials between ground and first-floor level’

George Wimpey

Having worked with JCB telescopic handlers for some time, George Wimpey was asked to trial the Strimech sliding pallet fork carriage on behalf of the housebuilding industry. This superior forklift does not require manual adjustment of the forks for varying sizes of pallets. Sounds basic, but it means that many potential accidents are avoided, such as the risk of drivers falling from their carriage while getting in and out, the danger of back and muscle injuries in the handling of the forks, the likelihood that a driver won’t use a seatbelt if constantly getting out of the vehicle, and the possibility of being hit by their own or another forklift while outside the cab. George Wimpey is, so far, utterly convinced that using this machine on its sites will – and I quote – “have an immediate effect on driver safety and efficiency”.

‘Use of this forklift means many accidents are avoided’

McCarthy & Stone

McCarthy & Stone had always thought, reasonably enough, that covering up service holes in concrete floor beams with plywood and marking it clearly “hole beneath” was sufficient to prevent accidents. But an incident involving a construction director, who was left injured after putting his foot through one such hole, made the company think again. The team realised that these handy squares of plywood were being “liberated” to use as spotboards, or moved when the services were installed and never replaced, or not used at all. The solution was to cover the holes with something nobody would find useful anywhere else, that could be cut rather than moved for services installation and that was pre-supplied to the site. So now squares of steel mesh are supplied to the site, significantly reducing these accidents and providing the added benefit of extra floor reinforcement once the holes are filled in. Brilliant.

‘The holes are now covered in squares of steel mesh’

Taylor Woodrow

The judging panel came over all warm and fuzzy on assessing Taylor Woodrow’s entry into this category, as it is based on supply chain integration and the sharing of knowledge and resources. Free training, such as the programme developed in partnership with its floor joist supplier TJI, means that all Taywood’s operatives have unlimited access to the kind of information they need to keep them safe. And any partner that is underperforming is not kicked out of the supply chain but is instead helped to tackle the problem, by “embracing the contractor rather than excluding them”. The company has also entered into partnership with BUPA to improve its occupational health provision across the supply chain. Finally, it has launched its own Supplier Awards – another way to encourage excellence.

‘This entry made the panel come over all warm and fuzzy’