Working on a building site can be a dangerous business – and the bigger the project, the greater the risk. But at Ballymore’s Royal Wharf, one of London’s most ambitious construction sites where nearly 3,500 new homes are going up, it has achieved the impressive milestone of one million man-hours without a RIDDOR reportable accident, some achievement for Scott Barnett, the site’s Health and Safety Manager, and his deputy, Daniel Bent.
What is your role?
I am the senior safety manager at Royal Wharf, responsible for more than 1,800 construction workers on site, one of the biggest I have ever worked on. I’ve been in this business for 20 years and it’s not often you get to the one million mark so it’s very nice when you do. It gives you the feeling you are actually making a difference.
How do you safeguard against accidents?
We have a lot of contractors on site and we make sure they all pull together as far as possible, making sure they keep their side of the bargain. We have weekly tool box talks on various subjects including PPE – Personal Protection Equipment, that’s gloves, glasses, hard hats, high-vis vests and appropriate footwear.
What are the common sorts of accidents?
The most common are cuts and grazes from tools and materials. That’s the majority. Although we want to reduce all accidents –it’s really the bigger injuries we want to avoid, what we call RIDDORs – Reports of Injuries, Diseases, and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations. These are classified as fractures of the bone (not fingers or toes), contagious diseases, (not many of them!), and things like vehicle overturns and scaffolding collapse. Reportable accidents would also include someone off work for more than seven days as result of a site injury.
What’s your secret in making the milestone?
I’d love to say it was all down to me, but it’s a team effort, along with the contractors. We all work together to make sure the site is as safe as possible - and of course my deputy Daniel Bent who is a great support.
Does the scale of a development like Royal Wharf present special risks?
Basically, we are building a whole village down here with private roads, town houses, tower blocks, right next to the river and there are many challenges that we have to deal with
Do the seasons make a difference? Is it more dangerous in winter?
The seasons each have different issues. When it is colder, the ground conditions can become slippery and muddy in places, but not really more dangerous than any other time as we ensure that the walkways are gritted and cleaned. In summer when it heats up, dust can become an issue and we damp down the roads. We also have to make sure the workforce is properly hydrated, that they get enough water.