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Innovative ways to improve health and safety on construction sites

Office fit out and refurbishment specialist Overbury, brought Cowry Consulting on board to help increase health, safety and wellbeing awareness on one of their project sites.

The project in question was the Royal Dutch Shell’s Southbank office refurbishment project. One of the standout findings from the review was that pink walls actually reduce unsafe behaviours on construction sites.

The on-site staff canteen was painted Baker-Miller Pink and staff were encouraged to take rest breaks in an effort to focus on employee wellbeing.

Other changes that were made included a gold card rewards system to encourage safety and a weekly walk around with a subcontractor and a health, safety and wellbeing specialist advising colleagues on safety, with scripted questions developed by psychologists.

The outcome of the changes were an 82% drop in levels of unsafe behaviours while working at height and a 93% drop for material movements in just 12 weeks. The study was deliberately innovative and unconventional to provoke change within the sector, and they’re not the only ones who are looking to innovative safety solutions.

The Berkeley Innovation Fund (a fund set up to challenge individuals and inventors, as well as companies and universities, to come up with bright ideas that change the way people think and work in construction) has awarded £2 million to the development of the fuseAware safety system. The system involves fitting a construction site with sensors, beacons and durable outdoor screens displaying real-time data and illustrated signage.

Users on the construction site would wear a smartwatch which receives alerts when they are entering a high-risk scenario. Supervisors would also receive an alert if an operative breaks a condition set up through the system, such as limited time doing a certain task. 

Having worked with many contractors for major blue chip companies, we know how important health and safety is within the construction industry and it’s exciting to see new techniques and technologies emerging to improve employee wellbeing and safety.

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