This special Projects Update showcases the best products and best engineering or design innovations shortlisted for Building's Health and Safety Awards 2006, to be held at the London Hilton on Park Lane on 22 June

This week's Health and Safety Projects Update looks at a selection of entries for the forthcoming Health and Safety Awards 2006, organised by Building in association with the Health and Safety Executive. The entire shortlists for two categories - best safety product and best safety innovation from a designer or engineer - are detailed below.

The winners will be announced at an awards dinner on Thursday 22 June at the London Hilton. To book a table call JC Events on 020 8755 4441.

Best safety product

Easy-to-carry kerbstone

Durakerb has developed a lightweight plastic kerbstone weighing less than 5 kg, making it safer to carry than conventional concrete alternatives. It is also said to reduce the amount of plant needed on site. The company says that Durakerb is made from recycled polymers and is environmentally friendly, plus it is chip-resistant, which eliminates the need for hazardous remedial repairs. Cutting the product is said to be quicker thanks to its plastic construction, which reduces the amount of dust on site and helps to comply with vibrations and sound control regulations.

Portable window lifter

Eazilift has launched a portable lifting device called the Harnser, which is designed specifically to lift fully-glazed windows weighing up to 100 kg into position from outside the building. The company says this is safer than manhandling heavy windows up stairs inside the building, or up ladders on the outside, and eliminates the risk of falls. The company says that the portable 12 kg one-man operated product is easily fixed into place into the window frame reveal.

Platform for stair openings
Platform for stair openings

To tackle the issue of how to provide a safe working platform for construction work on and over stair openings in houses, McInerney Homes’ safety department has designed an innovative ladder-like “bandstand” that can be used on stairs. The maker says two people can fit a working platform in about 15 minutes. A standard trestle can be placed on the half landing or top step.

Safer temporary handrails

BM Solutions has introduced a safety device called SurePin, which is intended to make temporary handrails safer on site. The company says that the idea for the product came from an investigation into a serious fall from height caused by a handrail that had been removed, repositioned but not secured into place. It is a highly visible tag attached to a scaffolding joint that has to be destroyed before the joint can be undone, making it clear if the scaffolding has been tampered with.

No-harness scaffolding guardrail

Turner Access has developed a guardrail solution that does away with the need for workers to wear safety harnesses on scaffolding. The company says that harnesses are ineffective at heights of 4 m and below and also carry the risk of injury and death from suspension trauma. The guardrails enable workers to be protected from a fall at all heights because the fall prevention method can be inserted at any level and operated easily by one man.

Lighting without tripping
Lighting without tripping

Blue i UK has entered its lightweight, wireless and energy-efficient portable lighting product, i-storm 24, which is designed to help cut the number of tripping accidents on building sites because it doesn’t use trailing cables. Featuring LED technology that reduces the amount of heat produced, i-storm 24 is said to be safe to touch and at a weight of 10 kg is also light to carry. It is said to be powerful enough to be used as a high-powered work light and replaces the need to use temporary corded 110 V lighting and generators sets. As i-storm 24 is battery powered it is silent in its operation and doesn’t produce fumes in confined spaces as traditional site lighting powered from a generator set may do. The product has a

low-battery warning indicator that enables users to take action before the 10-hour battery life comes to an end. The lighting product can be recharged after use from a mains power source, which is safer than regularly refuelling on site.

Best safety innovation from a designer or engineer

Best-practice knowledge network

A network to share best practice information on CDM regulations has been set up by designers from 10 different multidisciplinary organisations. Called The Design Best Practice Network, members include AstraZeneca, JE Jacobs, Amec and Lovelock Mitchell Architects. The forum's purpose is to raise awareness of the duties placed on designers and design organisations to comply with the CDM regulations. The forum members have set up a website featuring more than 100 design best practice ideas, case studies and training examples gathered through the audit of their own activity.

Risk management system

The Jobcentre Plus refurbishment programme involves more than 1000 projects across the UK, so improving health and safety has potentially enormous benefits. project manager Lend Lease Projects and contractor Alan Nuttall have worked together to implement a system that makes the buildings safer to build, operate and maintain over its lifetime. This includes a project risk management register that helps identify and evaluate hazards during the life cycle of a building. A risk rating system has been created to eliminate the hazards associated with working at heights, manual handling as well as operation and future maintenance. Once potentially risky operations have been identified, safer alternatives are developed, then tested in a mocked up office to see if these are effective. An example is a specially developed clip together ceiling system that can be fitted from below without the need for workers to work at height. Once a solution is adopted this best practice information is shared between team members at special design workshops.

Safety for lone workers

Atkins' highway and transportation division has developed a process called Safety Operations System to make working alone safer. Staff at the company's service management centre in Worcester take the operatives through a checklist of what has to be done to ensure safety on site, and to check they are competent to do the work required in the conditions they will encounter, such as a confined space. Once the worker is cleared to start work they have to check in to the centre every hour. If they fail to check in an escalation process starts. Once the task is completed the worker gives feedback to the centre on the quality of the work, and whether any health and safety problems were encountered.

Basement construction solution

Structural engineer Buro Happold has devised a design solution for the redevelopment of office block City Points in Leeds to make constructing the basement safer. The solution involves constructing new load-bearing liner walls for the inside faces of the existing basement wall, which eliminates the need to demolish the existing basement wall and the avoids the hazards incurred by removal of large volumes of basement slab - up to 1.2 m thick - and extensive propping. Buro Happold's approach at City Point also means that exposure to any contaminants in the ground has been reduced. The company says it will consider using this approach in future on inner city development projects.

Two-phase risk reduction process

Engineering consultancy MLM has developed a health and safety process that can reduce risks for the whole life of a project. The process includes two phases, the first one during which focused documentation on hazard evaluation and risk information is created and the second stage when continuous development of skills through a training programme is set up. The company says that it provides designers with more support and confidence with health and safety issues.

Structural support for masonry openings

Brooks Consultants has developed structural support beam system to provide support when creating openings in masonry structures. The purpose of the innovation is to eliminate conventional temporary supports, which require hole to be cut into the masonry with the attendant risk of masonry collapse. The beam system consists of two L-shaped lattice beams, which are fixed on opposite sides of the walls. Holes are drilled through the wall and bolts inserted to join the beams together. Tightening the bolts puts the masonry between the beams under compression so work can be carried out under the beams without the risk of collapse.