News / 26.11.21

NASC Awards Health & Safety Winner 2021

Spotlight on Benchmark Scaffolding Ltd

Introducing Benchmark Scaffolding Ltd, winner of the 2021 NASC Awards Health & Safety (67+ Operatives) category, sponsored by HAKI Ltd.

What Health and Safety activities, processes and initiatives have been adopted?

Benchmark Scaffolding Ltd: There are four areas we’d like to focus on. These are the Benchmark App, Carbon Footprinting, Health Surveillance and Internal Training.


The App

The introduction of the Benchmark App has been very beneficial to the company and operatives, no more carrying booklets and pens and reducing our carbon footprint. Prompts for carrying out safety checks and the availability of 110 toolbox talks.

The easy-to-use mobile Apps replace the arduous paper trail that site operatives disliked so much, it has not only been endorsed by the site teams, but it has also encouraged them to complete far more near misses and safety observations than previous years, which is a bonus for accident reporting and analysis.

Each entry from the App is entered into one easy access portal, from there documents are filed into their own sections can be easily obtained or retained for statutory periods.

A video of the Benchmark Apps can be viewed here.


Carbon Footprinting

At a Mace site safety meeting on their project at Battersea power station, Benchmark Scaffolding were informed that Mace expected from each contractor and their supply chains to have a strategy in place for which each contractor planned to reduce their carbon emissions.

The project was delegated to Mike Hanger, QSHE Manager, to produce this plan and have it made available to all those concerned when requested. Firstly, training was required in this area to improve one’s knowledge of what was required from this zero-carbon strategy plan.

Mike was already very aware of global warming and greenhouse gas emissions but the course struck home the importance of carbon management, identifying, and reducing the sources and undertaking a carbon footprint of Benchmark Scaffolding and its activities.

The call from Mace to merely produce a written statement, no longer seemed sufficient to deal with this ever-growing problem the world faces, a more in depth, identification and reduction carbon footprint plan had to be introduced.

BSL has already purchased a new fleet of low emission HGV vehicles, but other opportunities opened as the plan progressed. Costs emerged from looking to go carbon free, but these costs should be looked at from a life cycle perspective where the upfront investment, is set against the energy and cost savings over the life of the intervention.

Other areas arose other than GHG emissions, such as eliminating plastic products, such as tube caps and brickguards, replacing with biodegradable products. The zero-carbon plan is just the start.


Health Surveillance

Benchmark Scaffolding were one of the first companies to employ third parties to set up a health surveillance programme for its employees, a registered nurse visits the company on a monthly basis. A schedule is produced that ensures that each employee undergoes a thorough examination within that year.

Employees after passing this examination are then issued a fit to work card, operatives on site also undergo many stringent medicals by the client. In 2018 Benchmark established a robust absence recording policy, main objective being: was the absence related to the workplace, if the answer was yes, then all investigations were made.

In 2018 Benchmark set up Mental health programme titled (it’s OK to be not OK), to ensure this programme was successful 10 staff were trained in mental health care, including the managing director Rob West. Benchmark believes its workforce is its future, therefore the health and wellbeing of that workforce is vitally important.


Internal Training

Benchmark Scaffolding has a four-man team of safety trained specialists, 2 X Chartered IOSH, 1 X Grad IOSH and a tech IOSH. This training and experience from these ex-Scaffolders are passed down to all employees.

Specific training plans are reviewed on a regular basis to keep up with training demands, measures are placed to ensure each operative has the correct training to carry out their tasks, and big chunks of company profit are to put to one side to cover these training demands; Benchmark believe in investing in their future.

Many courses are conducted internally by the trained trainer, employees are given a feedback form after each course, this is to give the attendees a chance to comment on how they found the course, was it productive and which courses they would like to be provided with in the future.

Benchmark employees are given specific training for every piece of equipment they require to carry out their works, when new equipment like impact wrenches is introduced, research is carried out to discover the best form of training required, best and safest equipment on the market and all risks assessments conducted.


Please provide evidence of how your senior management team has demonstrated safety leadership within the organisation.


Directors’ tours

The directors of Benchmark scaffolding including the MD Rob West, actively take part in site safety tours, here they observe safe plans of work being implemented on site. Witness site operatives working in high-risk environments and co-ordinating work activities with other site users.

After the safety walk, directors hold consultations with site operatives and discuss methods of safer working conditions, these will all be included in the end safety tour report, of which becomes the topic of discussion on continued improvement meetings based at main office.


Employee Feedback

All employee data feedback from the Benchmark App is reviewed and monitored by management, this information positive or negative is then used to initiate proactive response from the company to release a safety topic toolbox talk.

Workforce engagement and safety leadership meetings that are held by the Operations Director Mark Byrne, safety bulletin updates are shared throughout the company; information used from sources i.e. NASC, HSE, health and safety events, 3rd party behavioural awareness, are consulted with the workforce.

Monthly Zoom meetings or equivalent platforms with senior site managers and Directors are held, here good or bad observation topics are raised and collectively discussed to keep up with the everyday challenges on Benchmark Scaffolding.


Safety team leadership Meetings

In October 2018 by request of site staff, Benchmark Scaffolding embarked on a new method of employee communication, safety team leadership meetings. Benchmark management would meet with all trained levels of site operative to have an open forum for employees to discuss health & safety issues, operative interaction on documented safe plans of work, and Personal inputs into improvement on tools and equipment.

The first meeting which went very well was attended by five site operatives, two project managers, one member of the safety team and one project director. These numbers grew on the second meeting and by the third meeting the site operative’s number grew to ten in attendance.

As site operatives began to see their voices being heard, more operatives volunteered to step forward to attend the meetings. When issues are raised SLT meetings, they are then raised again at the project management meetings, with plans to put the recommendations in place.

Since the start of the SLT meetings, company policies have been amended with improvement; policies have been explained thoroughly so employees knew the reason for their existence. The meetings also facilitated in the purchase of new equipment, improvements to safe systems of work, and improvements made to the company’s safe start briefings held each morning before works commences.


Newsletters/Benchpress company magazine

Benchmark Scaffolding believes in not only reward its employees who go above and beyond the call of duty; we also like to praise them in the quarterly company magazine Benchpress. When a client award one of our operatives on site, whatever the reward, Benchmark also matches it.

Rewards are also given to operatives who compile near miss report, it is done in the form of a lucky dip and that author of the report will receive a reward in payment. We have found rewarding operatives who excel in their safety responsibilities encourages others, the big increase in near miss card reports and operatives being rewarded reflects that.

The Benchpress magazine will also feature, new works the company has won, new equipment, changes within the industry, changes to the NASC Technical guides and statutory legislation, also on a lighter note, fund raising activities the companies’ employees have been involved in.


NASC Awards Judges comments:

“Benchmark Scaffolding’s entry stood out to the judges as it focussed on the challenges facing not only their organisation but all scaffolders. The app Benchmark has produced allows operatives to access a range of resources at the touch of a button, including team briefings, toolbox talks and near miss and safety observations. Huge Congratulations to all at Benchmark Scaffolding.”


Did You Know

TG20:21 is now on sale

More here.