Benchmark goes electronic with scaffolding inspections at Olympics site

Another highly successful implementation of the Safetrak electronic system for safer, more efficient scaffolding inspections and process management.

Since its establishment in 1995, Benchmark Scaffolding has supplied scaffolding solutions to key construction projects in the Greater London area, serving clients such as Barrett and Mace. The company has quickly become one of the largest scaffolding companies in London and South East England and it has now extended its offering to the north of England.

Benchmark Scaffolding employs 272 people to work on its projects across the UK. At any one time, up to 50 people could be on site depending on the scale of the project. Last year 191 projects were carried out by Benchmark Scaffolding.

It is Benchmark.s health and safety procedure that has led to its strong position in the market. The company invests heavily in its health and safety practices and has undergone strict vetting procedures. Graham Pope, General Manager at Benchmark Scaffolding explains: .Everything we do has health and safety implications. We have strict protocols in place to ensure that our workers are kept safe as well as other workers on site and members of the public. Typically during a project we can accommodate up to 20 different trades from construction workers to engineers so the safety of every scaffold is paramount..

Carrying out inspections is one of the ways to ensure scaffolding is safe. Scaffolding is one of the most common contributors associated with fatal injuries to workers and statistics from 2007/8¹ show this led to seven fatalities. Graham explains: .Every scaffold is inspected at least once a week to ensure it is in a safe condition. This equates to hundreds of inspections each week so we need a streamlined process in place to make sure this procedure is carried out efficiently and to the right standard..

To achieve increased efficiency, Benchmark turned to the Safetrak system from Scafftag to help improve the inspecting and reporting process for its scaffolding structures. The Safetrak system has currently been implemented at the Westfield Shopping Centre construction site in Stratford, East London which is due to open in time for the London Olympics in 2012.

Graham explains: .Since the company was established in 1995 we have been using the visual tagging system from Scafftag. This system has been very effective for us to warn employees and inspectors of hazards but we wanted to move forward and were looking for an easier way to manage our inspections planning and recording. The Safetrak system is an electronic development of the manual system we had previously been using. It allows the user to quickly bring up all the information needed relating to the inspections of particular scaffolds instead of wading through piles of paperwork. It flags up inspection dates and the reporting process is much easier..

Safetrak is a unique electronic system designed to transform equipment safety, maintenance and identification activities into a paperless, efficient and simplified process. Benchmark has seen a significant reduction in the time taken to carry out inspections and complete reports, as well as a decrease in the potential for human error.

Before using Safetrak, like other construction companies, Benchmark relied upon a paper based system to comply with legal scaffolding requirements.

Scaffolding is, by its very nature, difficult to control. With the constant turnover of scaffold jobs, knowing what structures are erected, inspected and decommissioned becomes difficult. This leaves a high potential for errors to occur.

Each scaffolding structure has to conform to the legal scaffolding requirements. For projects involving working at height, a risk assessment must also be completed to determine the appropriate equipment and provide guidance on the inspections.

With the introduction of Safetrak, paper reports no longer have to be filled out, filed or sent off. All relevant parties have instant access to information on each scaffold structure and can use Safetrak.s simple report generation tool to compile all legally required documentation.

The Safetrak solution is made up of several integrated components:

  • Scafftag visual tagging systems enclosing an .automatic identification. chip (principally Radio Frequency Identification (RFID))
  • Mobile handhelds (PDA.s)
  • Safetrak core software (planning and reporting function)
  • Plug-in inspection software modules for managing specific equipment e.g. scaffolding, ladders, lifting equipment etc
  • A Scafftag visual tag is attached to each scaffolding structure. The electronic chip contained within each visual tag has a unique reference number to identify the specific structure. The unique structure references are entered into the Safetrak system and a current status report is created for each scaffolding structure.

    Inspection routes are then planned using the core Safetrak software. These are downloaded to the mobile handhelds and given to the qualified scaffolders to take out with them in the field. The mobile devices then guide qualified scaffolders through planned routes, identifying the correct location. By scanning the visual tags, the correct specific structure can be confirmed. The required inspection checks that must be made are then specified, either for a weekly inspection (pass/pass with observations or fail), or a handover.

    This means that for a report to be generated, the qualified scaffolder physically needs to be at the correct structure and scan the visual tag. This eliminates the risk of vital information being forgotten between onsite inspecting and returning to the office to write up a report - or a report being created without a qualified scaffolder being present.

    The results of the inspection are recorded onto the handheld devices. Once the handheld devices are returned to the office the data can be downloaded and recorded in the core software. This centralises all of the information collected in the field, providing the relevant managers with the latest status and an audit trail for all of the scaffolding structures. Any non-compliances are identified immediately, allowing them to be dealt with instantly.

    For Benchmark Scaffolding this is also a hugely beneficial system from a customer perspective. Graham explains: .By using Safetrak we are demonstrating to our customers that we take our health and safety responsibility seriously. Our customers can have confidence in us and our systems and ensure that all scaffolding conforms to legislation. It gives our customers that extra peace of mind..

    It is not only customers that benefit from the Safetrak system. Benchmark Scaffolding believes the system gives it a unique selling point that helps it stand out from its competitors. .If a customer is looking at different scaffolding providers for a project, having an electronic system in place that makes the inspection process easier yet still ensuring maximum safety compliance is seen as an advantage..

    Key to the success has been the level of support and training from Scafftag. Graham said: .When Safetrak was first implemented we received excellent on-site training. Whilst our site based staff were enthusiastic towards the new system, there was still scepticism from some staff. Scafftag quickly eradicated these scepticisms by explaining how the system works and the benefits it brings.. The Safetrak system has worked so well for the Westfield site in Stratford that Benchmark is also planning to implement the system at one of its projects at Caféoyal on Regent Street that will start next year.

Customer : Benchmark Scaffolding

Industry : Construction

Solutions :
Safetrak® for Scaffolding

Return on investment summary

  • Easy to use system, minimising the requirement for paper and administration

  • Minimal paperwork generated . time can be used more efficiently (inspecting, not report writing)

  • Improved planning of the workforce

  • Programs the up and coming inspection dates . no missed inspections

  • Improved management of scaffold equipment location

  • Ruggedised PDA so inspections can be recorded in any weather conditions.

  • Increased accuracy of information recorded at the point of inspection, the identity of the RFID tag ensures inspectors are at the correct structure.

  • Provides a step by step checklist of inspection tasks rather than relying on inspectors intuition

  • Electronic copies so records less likely to get lost

  • Auditable trail to comply with legislation . proof of inspections

  • Instant access to current and historical data and endless options to manipulate it into insightful reports

  • Accessibility of information to all relevant stakeholders . improved communication

  • Added value to customers

  • Ongoing support helped ensure a smooth implementation of the new technology