Construction Skills
Sponsored by: Construction Skills

Winner and finalists:

Small companies used to be seen as the final frontier of health and safety, but increasingly firms are putting their workerswellbeing first. This years winner, Northern Claddings approach to reducing hand injuries is a case in point

Northern Cladding

The popular image of the tough roofer as an unshaven man with a wrench in one hand and a roll-up in the other has been superseded by that of the skilled, specialist operative who takes pride in their job and takes responsibility for the wellbeing of themselves and those around them. This change has been embraced by Northern Cladding. Although the dangers of working at height must be familiar to everyone, the particular injury that Northern Cladding noticed was hand injuries, caused by handling sharp materials. The companys response, back in 2002, was to produce some statistics to find out what was happening; this uncovered the fact that these injuries were not being reported. The company sorted this out, and enforced the wearing of gloves, once it had consulted with the workforce to identify designs that were suitable. By 2006 there wasnt a single hand injury in the company that required hospital treatment, despite a rapid growth in the firms turnover.

Franklin Hire

This equipment hire and demolition firm from Rayleigh in Essex got its start back in the seventies by tackling one of the most dangerous areas of the modern construction industry: the demolition of highly toxic petrochemical structures. It was while carrying out this work that the firm began to nurture its safety culture, insisting that its operatives wear personal protective clothing long before it became the norm in other areas of construction. It has since branched out into retail demolition, where it specialises in complex demolitions in working superstores, with all the risk that that implies. But risk has to be measured relative to the steps taken to ameliorate it, such as having every member of staff in possession of a CSCS card - mostly obtained through the NVQ route - wholeheartedly embracing the new CDM regulations, instituting an apprenticeship scheme, ensuring that it always uses modern safety equipment, and maintaining a workshop to service its vehicles. As a testimonial from Costains safety adviser states: Franklin Hire continually strives to improve the quality and performance of its company.

Gipping Construction

This 7m-turnover Cambridge contractor is only two years old, and at the beginning of its short life it asked Eastern Builders Safety Group to provide on-site inspections and put in place other health and safety systems. The safety group does more than provide inspections, however. It is in regular contact with Gipping at all levels of its business, from the operatives and site managers to the director. The results of the inspections are turned into key performance indicator graphs so that the firm can compare itself with its peers; so far, it has always come out above the average. Another remarkable, and overdue, innovation is the mobile group health surveillance scheme it has instituted to keep track of employees welfare, wherever they may be in the firms theatre of operations. The results have been fed back into the eastern safety groups scheme, so the benefits of Gippings activism have been spread far and wide.


This firm is a height safety specialist based in London and Kent. Paul Harrison, the companys boss, became interested in the subject of falls after he suffered a serious injury falling from a ladder. His firm can now tell you anything you want to know about building maintenance using cradles, hydraulic access machines and rope access. But thats not all. As the firm expanded, it was asked to consult with architects on safety systems that will enable others to get to potentially unsafe areas of their design. True to the impulse behind the firms creation Harrisons accident it has spent the past year and a large amount of money in setting up the Height Safety Training Academy in New Romney, Kent. This contains 12,000 ft2 of training space that is designed to give workers a realistic idea of all the dangers that working at height can contain.