National Highways has brought the challenges posed by construction sites to life in a bespoke ‘classroom’ to help staff safely experience heavy plant operation away from a working site.
Working in partnership with supply chain partners BAM Nuttall and Flannery Plant Hire, National Highways has delivered a new Health and Safety initiative designed to offer realistic training to give project managers more confidence and know-how when going out on site.
Step up for Safety took place last week with around 50 National Highways staff from the RIP Midlands project delivery community taking part.
The event was delivered at Flannery’s Operator Skills Hub – a purpose-built facility near Birmingham where staff were able to use virtual reality simulators to get a feel of operating heavy plant and to learn about the interior controls.
Through the Immersive 3D simulator facility that replicates a construction site they were able to experience the working environment through the eyes of plant operators.
Heavy plant equipment was also on site to demonstrate examples of ‘zonal working’ and those on the course were able to play out different scenarios commonly encountered on construction sites.
During the training, BAM Nuttall shared details of their zonal working standard which aims to reduce the risks caused by People Plant Interface and keep people safe. The interface between people and heavy plant equipment which is in use remains one of the main hazards on construction sites.
Zonal working identifies three colour-coded types of zone on site – Normal (the default zone); Restricted (only authorised personnel) and Exclusion (plant in operation so no personnel allowed). This controls how people and plant interface and is supported by National Highways.
In addition, buried services detection awareness and familiarisation training was delivered by in-house specialists from Flannery.
National Highways Programme Manager, Jon Slemmonds, said: “For people new to the construction industry and not familiar with heavy plant, it can look quite complicated and dangerous. This course gives our staff the know-how they need to stay safe in a live environment but also the confidence to manage projects on site and challenge processes if need be.
“It is also of benefit to experienced staff who have been able to refresh existing knowledge and gain new skills, observing best practice which they can now take back to their teams.
“This initiative is a great example of collaboration between partners to improve safety, widen skills and share best practice across the industry.”
This training initiative is the first of its kind delivered in the Midlands region and it is hoped that it will serve as a template for similar initiatives in other National Highways regions.
BAM Highways Director, Doug Mills, said: “One of the main hazards we face as an industry is within plant person interface. BAM Nuttall have successfully implemented a zonal working standard across our sites and within our transport division.
“This collaborative event and involvement from both Flannery’s and National Highways sets the safety bar at a high standard, I believe this has the potential to become an effective standardised approach across the whole of the strategic road network and will make all sites involved with heavy plant and machinery as safe as possible.”
Aaron Davies, Head of Skills and Training at Flannery Plant Hire, said: “The Operator Skills Hub is proud to be hosting a delegation from the National Highways Midlands region for an interactive workshop consisting of stands ranging from Machine Control, Vacuum Excavator Capability through to Zonal Working amongst others.
“This has allowed participants to ask questions and get hands on with the various innovations presented ensuring an understanding of the process for selecting and practically applying a host of solutions whilst aware of the considerations each one brings. Industry really wins at all levels when colleagues can collaborate and share ideas as critical friends.”