Winner - Brown and Mason
Brown and Mason
The judges awarded this prize to Brown and Mason for showing the initiative to set up a partnership with an occupational health specialist to safeguard its workers. One of the UK's largest demolition contractors with 150 staff across the UK, this firm joined forces with health and safety consultant Building Health in March 2005, and created a team of health and safety professionals. This crack unit revitalised the bog-standard statutory medicals and launched a comprehensive occupational health service that includes thorough health assessments for each worker. Last year it found 10% of operatives needed referring to their GP, one-third failed the eye test and 40% required ear syringing. The personal health benefits of this screening, as well as the safety benefits on site, are enormous.
Bovis Lend Lease
This huge contractor has an awful lot of people working on its projects - and the responsibility of all their wellbeing resting on its shoulders. Bovis takes that responsibility very seriously, with a huge range of initiatives and programmes designed to safeguard the health of its workers. Take for example its "Health and Wellbeing Initiative" across its Jobcentre Plus refurbishments, whereby regional occupational health nurses carry out health surveys and assessments for at-risk workers. Or there's the "Health Working Lives" pilot on its BBC Pacific Quay scheme in Scotland, which includes a resident nurse, regular check-ups, on-site gym and frequent meetings and training. Then there's the Wellman clinics at Warrington Golden Square, or the state-of-the-art health facility at the Manchester Arndale … The list goes on.
About five years ago, Glaswegian firm Gap Group recognised - appropriately enough, given its name - a gap in the market for an efficient way of calculating hand-arm vibration syndrome risk. It invented a wall chart, colour-coding all the various tools in red, amber and green, and then attached correlating coloured tags to the tools themselves. The chart was wildly successful and was requested by companies across the UK. But legislation changed, so in 2005 Gap decided to update the chart. It came up with a "vibration exposure calculator" - a rotating wheel that shows the user how long a tool can be used for under the new rules. As successful as the wall chart, more than 1000 have been requested and both can be downloaded from its website … What will they come up with next?
Working on the 51 Lime Street office scheme in the City of London, project management consultant Mace is teaming up with the client, contractors and supply chain on its Occupational Health Initiative. Not only does this programme provide medical screening and monitoring for staff on site, it also offers lifestyle screening and education, on-site treatment services, drugs and alcohol testing, and provides the company with health statistics and reports. The in-house health and safety team are also working with designers and consultants to minimise occupational health risks inherent in the works themselves. Union UCATT has found that workers are keen to get what they are calling their "personal MOTs".
Skanska has taken a truly proactive approach in its occupational health programme, and in 2004 appointed a full-time occupational health adviser to work with the health and safety team and develop a strategy. The committee put in place a set of awareness talks, which were delivered to more than 3000 employees and trade contractors, a health risk assessment for every site, including such factors as noise, dust and vibration as well as slip, trip or fall hazards, and health surveillance including blood-pressure testing and lifestyle screening for its workers. One of whom says, after his high blood pressure was caught in time: "What a wonderful thing the health nurse at work is." Can't say fairer than that.
Let's face it, looking after its workers is not just something a company does out of the kindness of its heart. A construction business simply cannot afford to lose valuable man-hours on its projects because of ill health - at last count, 11,500 workers are off sick every day. Health and safety consultant Sypol recognised the need for contractors to combat this problem, and was appointed by a board of industry representatives to launch a pilot programme called "Constructing Better Health". The scheme has been open for 18 months to anybody in the industry living or working in Leicestershire, and includes free advice, on-site toolbox talks, health nurse visits and risk assessments, among other benefits. As Sypol says, this is what a national scheme should look like.
Health and Safety Awards 2006
- Currently reading
Best occupational health initiative