Case Study: Tamdown Group

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It is potentially a very hazardous environment to work in the demolition environment

and we’ve got extensive experience of dealing with that and this has brought us to the need for additional worker engagement.

At other sites you know it’s sort of pushed on to you in different ways whereas this it works because you’re all, all your heads are getting round it together rather than just one person saying do this, do that, do the other you’re all identifying the hazards between you getting them on the board and so if we’re all together and we point out the hazards we know how to get round them.

The great advantage of course of worker engagement is the day by day as hazards develop or potential hazards develop the workers can see that occurring on site and they can be dealt with in the daily wise briefings and this is how we use the wise briefings every morning to anticipate what they’re going to be doing that day so you break it down from this overall job risk assessment into a day by day task by task sort of assessment which the guys undertake themselves and get involved with and really understand the hazards and why they deal with them.

I feel the best thing about it is obviously you know when you’ve got a site manager he can only see certain, certain things out on site with the guys out working different areas they can also point out other things that the site manager can’t see so they can obviously talk about them to the site manager and get them discussed as well which is good.

It’s planting the seed as such to think a bit differently about everything like you know.

Another good idea is if you’re like a new labourer on site or something you look on the board see what sort of hazards have been you can just have a quick read through it.

I mean some people have never been on site before have they they don’t really have a lot of knowledge about what’s going on so if they see what’s on the board they know where the problems are.

Yeah like one of the main ones as well is obviously like bringing you closer to the management and that do you know what I mean so there ain't that big gap.

The accident statistics speak for themselves.

Over the last two years we’ve seen a dramatic reduction in RIDDOR accidents down to the lowest levels the company has ever had.

What we’re seeing is an increase in the incident or near miss rates because we’re actively promoting the guys if they do have a near miss report it, tell us about it, let’s look at it and how we can minimise that potential or negate it from happening again.

Of course there’s been a corresponding financial bonus for us in this, we’ve seen a twenty five percent decrease in our insurance premiums and at the same time the cost of accidents has reduced dramatically.

That I think is the key of it, the different way of thinking approaching it differently to what we’re doing a lot in the industry at the moment is you know everybody getting together, identifying the problems and sorting out between them and not being frightened to speak up and say about you know what’s going on on site

and how you think you could be safer in your workplace you know.

It makes all our lives easier, I’d rather come on site and see a happy workforce and see a workforce adhering to our standards and wanting to do that.

You can’t put a price on going home of an evening you know to your family and kids or whatever the same as what you came in.

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The Tamdown Group began trading in 1977. Following a management buyout in 1999 it has become one of the UK’s leading regional civil engineering contractors, providing state-of-the-art ground work preparation and infrastructure construction (roads, drainage, foundations and concrete frames) on some of the country’s largest brownfield development sites. Turnover is now £70million, with nearly 500 employees working on around 45 sites across the South East.

The problem

As the scale of clients and work developed, Tamdown’s health and safety culture had to keep pace. Before the new management regime RIDDOR-reportable accidents had been averaging eight per year. The company wished to establish a point of difference when competing for contracts. Senior management determined that a new work-safe strategy was key to this.

The solution

Group H&S Manager Andrew Denby, who joined in January 2008, was briefed to audit the health and safety record and introduce a new work safety regime. Andrew wanted to give responsibility to the workforce and create a safer environment through knowledge and empowerment. His solution was 'Worksmart', a worker involvement initiative.

Andrew explained: 'I felt it was far better to motivate employees through the message that working safely would lead to a healthier, safer life for them as well as greater efficiencies for Tamdown. Everyone has something to offer this process. It generates camaraderie and creates a ‘virtuous circle’. It’s an attitude that should grow to touch every part of the business.'

In its continuous drive for health and safety excellence Worksmart includes safety training for site foremen and operatives, the safe provision and maintenance of plant, and systems of work that are safe and without risk to health.

The latest phase of the Worksmart initiative involves a daily 'WiSE' (Worksmart Engagement) briefing in which all operatives ask themselves a crucial question: 'What difference can I make to ensure that this site is a safer place to work?'

Wherever a site is operational, then WiSE is operational too, supplemented by a site safety forum which oversees and reviews the programme on site.

Every employee or sub contractor new to the site is required to commit to the Tamdown safety policy, and is shown a safety film which creates awareness of the potential hazards. Sub-contractor Joe Harris, who works for Maldon Demolition Ltd., is a keen advocate.

'I’ve worked with other companies who are adamant that you ‘do as they say’. They’ve not wanted to hear the workers’ views and it’s often resulted in losing many hours on site. This way we can do our job efficiently and effectively with no time lost due to avoidable problems.'

Mick Bray, Tamdown Health, Safety and Quality Manager, started in the construction industry over 25 years ago as a plant operator. He delivers on-site training via demonstrations, DVDs and workshops. 'I’m talking from experience and that’s when people listen. With Worksmart we get the men involved and get them to take it on board and look out for each other.'

Each morning at one demolition project in High Wycombe, site workers go through the day’s schedule to discuss potential hazards and instigate safety procedures. It’s a mini risk-assessment exercise, working within the health and safety team’s original guidelines. If site workers are unable to carry out safety measures themselves Andrew and his team offer support and advice. This applies across Tamdown sites around the South East. As one worker explained

'The meeting takes about 10 minutes but can save us hours of working time.'

As part of its effective open-door policy for communication Tamdown also operates a health and safety 'hot-line', should employees wish report any issues or problems anonymously.

This workforce-engagement has led to an increase in minor incident and near-miss reporting. In 2006 there were 13 non-RIDDOR-reportable accidents. In 2007 they reached a peak of 50, reducing to 35 in 2008. However, the higher figures are seen as a bonus by the company as they show the workforce’s commitment to highlighting hazards, and give Tamdown the data to recognise small problems and prevent them from growing into major incidents.

The company monitors all non-reportable accidents, constantly looking for efficient safety improvements. For instance, when the reporting system flagged up a number of hand injuries Tamdown considered making gloves compulsory for all building-site workers at all times. But further analysis showed that wearing gloves was not always linked to the likelihood of hand injuries. So Tamdown retained its policy of deciding on the need for gloves for individual tasks based on risk assessment, while Andrew and his team continue to monitor the situation.

Actual new implementations include the installation of a new shuttering system for concrete formwork, and improvements made to avoid workers cutting their legs on metal tine wiring.

The outcome

Workers and management are far happier about safety, morale is high and accident figures are down.

As Andrew Denby says: “We’ve seen a huge drop in RIDDOR-reportable accidents (from six in 2008 to one in 2009), a rise in near-miss and non-injury incident reporting, and a 25% cut in insurance premiums, more than offsetting the scheme’s £20-£25K cost to date.

“We’ve retained our training programme and increased our training grant receipts through a challenging trading period. In short, by genuinely engaging with our workforce we’ve squeezed far higher performance from a far lower net budget. The ‘Worksmart’ programme has matured into a genuine partnership between management and front-line operatives, opening new and exciting channels of communication.”

Tamdown has a culture of CANI (Continuous And Never-Ending Improvement). As the business and its environment evolve, so will the innovative approaches to improving health and safety.

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