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ConstructionSkills and UCATT call for improved site communication


New film demonstrates the behavioural changes businesses need to make to reduce deaths and accidents in the construction industry

ConstructionSkills and UCATT have joined forces to encourage construction firms to improve on-site communication in a bid to reduce numbers of accidents in the industry.

Through the Worker Engagement Toolkit, a new film developed by ConstructionSkills and the Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians (UCATT), construction firms can learn that communication between employers and workers can drastically increase health and safety awareness, and therefore lead to a reduction in the number of accidents. In addition, effective worker engagement can help to increase turnover, and help firms to safeguard their business during tough times.

The interview-led, 30-minute film examines all levels of a variety of businesses, speaking to managing directors, foremen and workers, and offers working examples of how accidents have reduced over time when worker engagement has been effectively carried out. The Health and Safety Executive were also involved in developing the DVD, which has been identified by the Strategic Forum for Construction Worker Involvement Group as the best toolkit on the market.

Recent research by Glasgow Caledonian University, commissioned by the HSE, found that the lack of communication between management and the workforce was an on-going problem that led to accidents taking place when simple communication could have prevented them. As a result ConstructionSkills and UCATT have been working together to address the root-causes of the patterns in behaviour that can lead to accidents occurring.

Kevin Fear, Head of Health, Safety and Environment, ConstructionSkills said:

“This Toolkit aims to encourage firms to take on-site health and safety a step further and implement worker engagement at a higher level in order to help eliminate the number of accidents across the industry. We have already seen evidence that worker engagement is vital in terms of driving down accident and fatality rates, and as the industry’s Sector Skills Council, we want to promote this across the board using this film as a guide. With entire workforces becoming more open and honest, both productivity and safety can be improved.”

Alan Ritchie, General Secretary of Construction Union, UCATT, said:

“ All the evidence shows that construction sites which are well organised, where workers are directly employed and where there are a high number of independent health and safety representatives, are far safer than casualised sites where bosses pay lip service to safety.

“This new DVD is a useful tool in reinforcing the message to employers that effective worker involvement is a major factor in reducing deaths and injuries at work.”

Mike Routledge, IMS Manager, Heyrod Construction:

“In 2005 we implemented a strategy which greatly reduced the level of accidents. All of our Supervisors attend the Site Supervisor Health and Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) and the processes we have put in place to help increase communication and awareness around health and safety within the firm have led to a noticeable improvement in the way we operate. In addition, it’s not just us who have experienced a positive shift, but our clients are happier than ever with our work as a result of the health and safety procedures we have implemented. It has impacted significantly on our turnover that has increased from £40m to £95m, which is extremely encouraging given the current economic climate.”

Glenn Christiansen, IMS North West Manager, Carillion:

“Our workforce has first-hand experience of the way things need to be done. They spot the hazards and problems, often long before we do. It’s essential, therefore, that we use them to control risks on site. Through an initiative we call ‘Don’t Walk By’ and safety action groups; we have seen a significant reduction in the number of accidents, with no reported accidents occurring within the past year for that initiative. This has now become an intrinsic part of our company philosophy, and we have a goal to be completely accident-free by 2010.”

The first 20 copies of the DVD are free on a first come first served basis after which it will cost £20 and is available to buy from ConstructionSkills.

Email: David.Pidgeon@cskills.org


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