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What Happened to the Health in Health and Safety?

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Are there more inventive things we can do on the construction site to reduce the number of accidents?

I was at a series of presentations delivered to the European Rental Association recently. A subject that kept coming up was health & safety. Then one of the presenters remarked that we seem to have forgotten the ‘health’ part of ‘health & safety’ – most of what we talk about relates to safety and not health. It was an interesting comment and it got me thinking, particularly in relation to a statistic that also came up several times that 88% of all job site accidents are caused by human error.

We spend a lot of time talking with construction professionals and with the rental companies that serve them, and though terminology and business process can vary, there are some universal challenges that hit both groups and health & safety is obviously one of those challenges. The safety part is relatively obvious, manufacturers, rental companies, and construction companies are equally engaged in efforts to find ever safer ways of working at height, on the ground, and with dangerous equipment. Health comes into it in terms of using PPE equipment to prevent inhalation of silica for example or wearing ear protection to reduce the chances of hearing loss – but are there more related to health that we are missing?

If 88% of accidents on the job site are caused by human error then does that just mean that people aren’t paying attention, aren’t well trained enough, take unnecessary shortcuts or is there another part of the health equation that we need to consider? Stress and fatigue are obvious drains on health and equally contribute towards accidents. Though external stress is something that is difficult to prevent, we can act to reduce certain types of stress within the construction workplace itself.

As we talk to construction professionals, whether they work directly on the job site, in equipment facilities or in procurement there is one thing that comes up time and again which creates a huge amount of stress and frustration at all levels of the organization. It’s not peculiar to the construction industry, it’s a common problem across all types of business – lack of communication.

You can be out on your job site at 6 am awaiting the delivery of your excavator not knowing if it’s actually going to arrive. Or even worse waiting for the crane or the concrete pump that is essential to the next step of your construction job and not know if it’s going to be there in time to prevent your entire job site from grinding to a halt.  Then there is the question of who do you call?  Is it the equipment facility or have they called in a rental company? In which case, which one?

The Wynne Job Site Portal is an attempt to at least start to close the communication gap and reduce the level of stress. All the information the job site needs to check on the progress of their requisitions, including the ability to see where their equipment is coming from, is visible in the portal. If notification emails and reports help then you can also add these to the mix. Delivering a quick and easy way to interact with everyone in the supply chain and make sure everyone knows the same information at the same time. We know this only solves a tiny part of the everyday stresses at the job site, but we’d like to think it makes a useful contribution.

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