Even the best intentions have unintended consequences; the same goes for inventions. Technology is created with the intention of solving a problem. Providing a tool that helps to save time, however, does not directly influence how this free time will be used.
Back when Pre Enrolment was being conceived, our aim was to save time whilst also improving the communication of a contractors health and safety culture. Giving an hour back every day is a marginal gain with the potential to make a big difference. How long it takes to complete each task defines a construction project. One package of works will impact another package of works, and some things cannot be done before other stages are complete.
As part of my role, I visit and gather feedback from our customers to continually improve their systems to meet any changes in working at the company. Naturally, the conversation includes the difference the technology is making and how the day-to-day has changed on site. With the time-saving aspect of the system being such a key component, I have also picked up a few examples of how this time is helping sites go the extra mile with some other priorities. In the spirit of sharing best practice, here are a few examples.
In my experience, the happiest and most productive sites are the ones with a great team dynamic. Having an appreciation for the impact the individual has on the project, as a whole, ensures everyone is working towards the same vision.
It was on a visit to a customer near Doncaster that I saw how the site manager used this time to embed the team mentality. With the generic induction no longer a focus of his attention, he instead used the time to review the RAMS with all of the workers, not just the supervisors. In good weather, this took place outside on site. It gave him a chance to speak to each individual about their involvement on the project and allow the work gangs to see how their collaboration would progress the site from week to week.
Having a wider perspective gave the site a chance to reiterate their need for cooperation and good communication. The rate of ‘safety observations’ went up as a result of workers having a better understanding of operations around them.
Drug and Alcohol tests
Health and Safety policy evolves in order to achieve constant improvement for conditions onsite. In such a dangerous environment, an individual under the influence of a substance poses a serious risk to their own life and others. As it goes, most people in the industry have a story of their own about drugs or alcohol on site. As a consequence, one practice that is becoming more common on sites is the Drug and Alcohol (D&A) test.
The time saved using a Pre Enrolment system has allowed one customer to make this test mandatory on their sites. Recording the results on the online system has also provided reassurance for other sites that an individual has recently been tested or may pose a potential risk to others. The time afforded to screen and record the results makes a huge difference to keeping everyone on site safe.
Mental health in the industry has been pulled under the microscope in recent months following the alarming statistics around suicide, and rightly so. Recognising the problem is certainly half the battle. However, in an already pressured environment, having the capacity to address the issue is a common problem for contractors.
By removing a repetitive, and in some cases robotic, processes from sites, we can find time for more human interaction. Simon Valles, Head of Health and Safety at Squibb Group, uses the time saved to engage his workers with discussion around mental health.
“The difference can be as little as having the time to ask someone how they are doing.”
Having the time not just to ask, but to also listen, might just be the start we need in order to make a real impact.
Ability to choose
Everything in construction seems to come down to a question of time. It is a factor in every decision on site from quality to health and safety, and the reason most commonly cited for something not being done the right way. The marginal gain of an hour each day has not just allowed site teams to improve their site, but empowered them with the choice.
For me, this has been one of the most significant successes for the technology. Good technology enables a greater good. In this case, it has helped save time, but also allowed people to treat everyone they work with like people too. Given the opportunity, what would you use that hour for?