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Balfour Beatty aims to eliminate vibrating tools

Balfour Beatty wants to eliminate methods that lead to workplace injuries such as hand arm vibration syndrome (HVAS), its head of health and safety has said.

Health, safety, environment and sustainability director Heather Bryant said wanted to see conditions such as HVAS eliminated within the industry over the next decade.

Speaking at the CN Summit, Ms Bryant said: “I would say: watch this space. Will we remove vibrating tools? Well yes of course. It’s always an option to eliminate.”

She added: “I don’t want to see, in around 10 years’ time, millions of people with problems [caused by hand tool vibrations].”

Ms Bryant’s comments formed part of a seminar on how new technology and working practices presented opportunities in terms of safety.

She told delegates that Balfour was looking to integrate its technological innovations to reduce the need for workers on sites wherever this was feasible.

However, panellists said innovation in itself was not the answer to firms’ health and safety dilemmas.

Wates health, safety, environment and quality director John Dunne said contractors and consultants needed to be discerning over what types of technology they utilise.

He said: “We get a lot of tech companies contacting us saying, ‘We can do this or do that’, but you need to be able to know how to ascertain value from new technologies.

“How do I use that [technology], what do I do with that information and is that useful for a guy fitting a kitchen on a housing site in Manchester?”

Lawrence Waterman, the founding partner of Park H&S who chaired the Summit seminar, noted that 58,000 of the 555,000 UK workplace injuries last year were in construction – 10.5 per cent.

Tideway director of health, safety and wellbeing Steve Hails told delegates his project conducted an internal review of what added benefits could be included within its sites to improve workforce wellbeing.

He said that, after partially completing the exercise, the team re-thought what it was looking to implement.

“We found that in construction the level of welfare and health provision was lacking,” Mr Hails said.

“We brought in a reference group, which asked for the basics such as changing areas that were large enough, clear clean dirty areas.”

Mental health was also high on the Summit agenda, after 57 per cent of respondents to CN’s 2018 mental health survey said they had experienced mental health issues.

However, more than 80 per cent of respondents said there was a stigma with mental health that was not attached to other health issues.

Mace operations director for health, safety and wellbeing Martin Coyd said people were still too wary to report mental health problems.

“People don’t talk to their immediate line managers or colleagues about how they are feeling,” he said.

Readers' comments (2)

  • Chelsea Miner

    Great ambition.
    HAVS is a very dehabilitating disease but what are the stats?
    I’ve been in the tunnelling industry for 30 years and don’t know anyone with it.
    Surely better to educate to prevent musko-skeletal injuries when affect many more.

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  • I have to say when I was in BB we spent a fortune on training, R&D work making sure we bought the correct tools with proven data that controlled the use and time allowed doing certain tasks, our conclusion was people can just get HAV,S without being exposed to poor practice, of course putting those procedures in place can demonstrate it wasn't caused by the company.

    PM

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