Winner - Turner Access
The firm won what proved to be a fiercely contested category with its PlusGard system for erecting, dismantling and altering scaffold structures. The firm's bold claim is that PlusGard gives the operative who works at height the same level of protection at the person who uses the finished building. The specific problem that PlusGard was designed to tackle was falls from less than 4 m; harnesses are ineffective below this height, yet 55% of falls occur at 4 m or lower. Essentially the system works by installing an "advanced guardrail", which provides protection from the base level all the way up and down. It works not only when building, but also while dismantling and altering the arrangement of the scaffold, and because it avoids the need for a harness it removes the possibility of death or injury from suspension trauma. If this system were taken up across the industry it would be guaranteed to improve the industry's safety record at a stroke.
Blue I UK
This firm, which was set up last year, has found a way to make construction sites a great deal safer. According to the HSE, half of all serious injuries to construction workers are caused by falls, and of these 1073 serious injuries were caused by trips. The advent of cordless power tools in recent years has gone some way to meeting this problem, but up until now, nobody had thought of a way of making lights cordless. So, enter Blue I UK with its LED light engine, which is powerful enough to replace corded 110 V generator sets. The light is low temperature, silent, requires no hazardous fuel, weighs only 25 kg and has no glass components.
On a typical year, 40 deaths and 3000 serious injuries occur as a result of falls from height in the UK construction industry. Crack this problem and you'd make our construction industry the safest in the world. BM Solutions has come up with an answer to part of the problem: the removal of handrails, which are then replaced but not secured. The company got thinking after coming across a case where this actually happened. So we now have SurePin, a device that stops the release and removal of the Cuplock tighening joint. It is tamper resistant when fixed into place, and tamper evident if interfered with, as it must be destroyed before the joint can be released.
It comes as a bit of a surprise to consider how much trouble is caused by the ordinary handling of the standard curbstone. These objects require the presence of lifting equipment on already congested sites, with all the hassle and hazards that that implies. Durakerb's answer was brilliantly simple: a light "stone" made from a blend of recycled polymers that is easier and safer to handle and therefore faster to lay. In fact, the curbs can be transported in the back of an ordinary car and carried in one hand; when cut they produce no dust and when laid they do not chip, eliminating the need for remedial repairs. All in all a significant contribution to the industry's health and efficiency.
Arguably the most dangerous single stage in the housebuilding process is the installation of windows at height. If you can't carry the frames up the stairs, you're left with a number of expensive or dangerous options for installing it externally - until now. Harnser has produced a genuinely portable lifting device designed specifically for window frames. It weighs a mere 12 kg and breaks down to the size of a golf bag. The operation could hardly be simpler: you fit it like a jack into the window reveal, a boom swings out and the window is raised by means of a manual winch, allowing 100 kg winder to be fitted by a single man.
McInerney came up with two entries for this category. The first is a design for safer loading bay gates, triggered by an accident in which a worker fell under a single handrail while removing roof tiles from a pallet. It works simply enough by providing the scaffolding subcontractor with a gate to fit to the loading bay by means of a swivel clip. After a safety assessment it is ready for use, and where it has been used no further incidents have occurred. McInerney's second idea is intended to tackle the universal problem of providing safe working platforms at height, or, in this case, working over stair openings in houses. Its stairs "bandstand" resembles a kind of complicated ladder designed to rest securely on steps and support a working platform. So far it has proved a hit with the firm's plasterers and promises in time to make life a little more secure for the rest of the industry.
Health and Safety Awards 2006
- Currently reading
Best safety product