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CN Special Award: Winner

Winner: Abbey Pynford Geo Structures

Safety and skills are perhaps the two greatest challenges and highest priorities facing our industry today. Not only has Abbey Pynford Geo Structures excelled on both these fronts as an individual business, it has also raised the bar not just within its specialist market but for the whole of the construction sector.

As a geotechnical contractor specialising in basement engineering, Abbey operates in a challenging market hit by a number of negative headlines in recent years. Rather than rest on its laurels and react to developments, the company’s leaders took it upon themselves to identify the problems facing the sector.

Abbey pinpointed insufficient geotechnical knowledge, widespread misconceptions and the delegation of risk as among the critical challenges affecting its market, before setting out to help address these issues.

The results, according to our judging panel, have been “stunning”.

On safety, the firm has demonstrated how a reactive approach to health and safety can be replaced by a far more effective strategy that champions awareness and prevention. Safety incidents have been cut from 14 in 2014 to just five in 2015, even as the company’s turnover rose by 65 per cent.

“Abbey showed incredible enthusiasm and their visionary managing director presented innovation after innovation”

Judges’ comment

Driving this, Abbey rolled out regular presentations with all site foremen and quarterly meetings with representatives from subcontractors. It also gained a RoSPA Silver Award and an ISO 18001 accreditation for its health and safety management procedures.

The company’s transformation of its training strategy has been no less impressive. Training for both staff and labour-only subcontractors was increased by 84 per cent in 2014 and 54 per cent in 2015, with a further 58 per cent rise budgeted for this year.

As well as training, Abbey has invested in researching and developing ways to reduce risks common to its entire sector. This big-picture mentality is reflected in the company’s extra-curricular activities, having been invited to speak at numerous forums and events, as well as through its representatives on panels such as Build UK’s H&S Leadership Group.

Our judges were blown away by Abbey’s own leadership, with MD Lewis O’Connor showing incredible passion for his company’s standards – passion that is clearly filtering down through his workforce.

With customer feedback improving and turnover on the up, Abbey is both a shining example of how one company can help transform a sector and an outstanding winner of this year’s CN Special Award.



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