During the pandemic, many businesses have faced the mammoth task of adapting to a Covid-19 landscape. During lockdown, staff at The Input Group – a full-service construction firm – were considered key workers, continuing to work on projects despite the rest of the world coming to a standstill.
The Input Group
Chris Monk, managing director at The Input Group, explains that the pandemic gave his company a chance to emphasize its commitment to staff safety and prove no challenge is insurmountable when planned correctly.
While many outside of the construction industry will grumble about red tape and restrictions affecting the productivity of works, those within the sector understand the importance of a strong health and safety programme.
Thankfully, the rate of fatal injury amongst construction workers has shown a consistent downward trend from the turn of the ’90s, proving that the increase in prioritising health and safety has saved thousands of lives.
Our resolute dedication to our staff is at the heart of all we do, with a strong focus on creating a friendly and supportive workplace. The commitment we place top of the agenda is maintaining a consistently safe workplace and we take a holistic approach to staff care, creating a low staff turnover rate and average length of service of around 25 years.
As well as protecting our staff, contractors, and clients, a stringent health and safety policy has essential benefits for clients. Minimising accidents and injuries ensures that no time is lost in resolving issues that may arise from this, thus guaranteeing that projects always run to schedule. No time or money is lost in dealing with preventable issues and staff, from all sides of a project, are kept safe.
A key part of this approach is our CONCEPTZERO initiative; a ZERO tolerance attitude we have developed and implemented to ensure that everything is done beyond exception to prevent these eventualities coming into fruition.
Our commitment to health and safety is driven from the top and ingrained in the ethos and values of our company, but also in our staff and any subcontractors or professional partners we work with. We have developed our own rigorous quality control process to make sure that our extremely high standards are adhered to, often above and beyond the clients’ requirements.
Physical health and safety is, of course, only one side of the coin and mental health should always be a top priority for construction firms. The Chartered Institute of Building found that 70% of construction workers surveyed in 2019 had experienced feelings of depression and 87% had experienced anxiety. After the challenges of the pandemic, this figure has only risen and its imperative that health and safety procedures incorporate mental health considerations too.
The ideal situation would be to see dedicated mental health first aiders and comprehensive support systems as common practice in all companies. As a firm we have a mental health lead involved with all projects to ensure this is taken into consideration in each stage of a project. Positive steps towards improving mental health across the sector are already being made and we look forward to seeing this progress in the future.
A flagship project where our approach to health and safety was a priority was the Castleford Railway Station transformation. We were tasked with significantly improving Castleford railway station and providing a more attractive gateway into the town. The project went ahead during the pandemic and was designed with Covid-19 in mind so that the station would be secure to travel in once restrictions were lifted.
With CONCEPTZERO in mind, the project went ahead as planned. During the project we had no accidents or incidents, giving us a zero LTIFR (Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate) recorded against number of hours on the project. Network Rail’s target is 0.139 per 100,000 hours worked, so this is an industry-leading achievement that we are very proud of.
Alongside our existing systems, we are constantly looking to improve our practices. We also consider how the business is currently operating and remain open to changing the way we work. We also actively encourage staff to present ideas for improvements within the business.
We provide on-site employees with the correct winter and summer PPE protection, while also ensuring that employees have the right tools and equipment, which is important so they can perform their duties efficiently and on time. During the pandemic, we opened our IT network so staff could access our core systems securely from home and installed air conditioning and heating systems across all of our offices.
We also set the standard on many projects for being at the forefront of creating and developing what signage and wayfinding would look like for clients in a post-Covid world.
Like many businesses, we had to adapt the way we work and there have been many regulation updates and government guidelines that needed to be followed on site.
In addition, we have made some big changes, such as going paperless and investing in ProCore – a construction management software that oversees all aspects of each project including health and safety assessments. But there have also been smaller changes to manage, such as travelling in separate vehicles to sites and staggering lunch breaks to comply with social distancing – all while providing the same top-quality service for our clients.