Morgan Sindall - BBMV Crossrail project

Case study - HAVS

The Challenge

The senior management team led by Paul Gott (MD Morgan Sindall Tunnels) and Selby Thacker (Operations Director Morgan Sindall) along with the Health & Safety and project team recognised that a paper based system currently deployed was labour intensive, provided insufficient visibility to understand the scale of worker welfare issues and fundamentally did not provide adequate management information to support risk reduction. The issues faced by the leadership team were:

  • Lack of operator awareness of HAV risks
  • Questionable vibration exposure records from operator declared estimates of tool usage
  • No simple way to collate or interrogate exposure data
  • Lack of credible data to help reduce and limit exposure
  • No robust defence to employee HAVS litigation
  • Basic at best compliance to the Vibration Directive 2005
  • Meeting Morgan Sindall’s corporate objective of “100% Safe”

The Solution Part 1

Following extensive trials with two manufactures of digital monitoring equipment for Hand Arm Vibration, Reactec Ltd were selected as the preferred supplier of equipment.

Reactec supplied HAVmeter, a device mounted on the tool and connected magnetically to a tool tag which had been programmed with the vibration dosage of the relevant tool.

Every operator using a vibratory tool was issued with a unique ID card programmed with their EAV/ELV and personal details, used to release a HAVmeter from the Basestation (1). The operator uses the HAVmeter for the duration of their shift by simply attaching the HAVmeter to the tag of each tool used (2). At the end of a shift the HAVmeter is placed back on to a Basestation for charging and up-loading the data to Reactec Analytics Platform (3). The employer can view and manage user access to exposure report (4) and identify exposure and risk reduction activity (5).

Along with deployment of HAVmeter, an extensive programme of toolbox talks specifically relating to Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome were delivered to all on tool employees. Toolbox talks were centred around the damage that constant or over exposure to vibrating tools could do to an individual and the impact on their personal and professional lives.

Further training to line managers on how to access the data, how to interpret the data and how that would deliver a safer working environment were delivered in a combination of site visits and WebEx training sessions with on-going field support from Reactec and Morgan Sindall/BBMV management.

The Solution Part 2

Having deployed the HAVmeter for 6 months a number of minor deployment issues were identified.: Tool Tags could be knocked off; tool hire partners found tool tagging difficult; HAVmeters were becoming detached in confined environments; and a HAVmeter could only be used for one shift. Morgan Sindall group agreed to work in partnership to beta test a new system that could deliver the same benefits and address the issues above. Morgan Sindall have recently begun deployment of Reactec’s new HAVwear solution not just on BBMV but through the Morgan Sindall Group.

HAVwear is a wearable device which measures actual vibration experienced by the operator. It encourages greater operator awareness by being worn on the wrist and incorporating a real time display and sensory alerts and works well in confined spaces. HAVwear requires a simpler tool tag composed of an RFID chip embedded in a simple label attached via a self-adhesive layer, which simplifies self-deployment and deployment through hire partners. The management intelligence from the HAVwear is supported by the same cloud based reporting as the HAVmeter. 


Lack of operator awareness of HAV risks

All users of vibratory tools understand what HAV’s is and the impact it can have on their health, their private and professional lives. As a result the operators have engaged with the technology especially the wearable HAVwear as it has become personal. Each device informs the operator of points being accumulated so they are able to take informed decisions about tool rotation through their work team. Also select lower vibratory tools or inform supervisors of impending or breached exposure threshold limits and supporting the message, it’s about them being 100% safe.

Questionable vibration exposure records from operator declared estimates of tool usage

Both HAVmeter & HAVwear devices use triaxle accelerometer’s to measure vibration either on tool or on the wrist to accurately record time on the tool. Constant digital monitoring ensures accurate and consistent measurement and removes the guess work on operator trigger time. It also identifies which tools cause vibration and critically measures the outcomes of control measures put in place by the management team eg, have the control measures reduced vibration exposure and can the control be expanded through the workforce. In addition the HAVwear’s ability to sense the vibration impact on the individual opens a new way of assessing the true, experienced risk which is not subject to the uncertainty of tool vibration levels based on expected tool performance programmed in the tool tag.

No simple way to collate or interrogate the data

Paper based monitoring or surveillance relied on operators giving an assessment of time on tool and was often confused with how hard are you working as opposed to how much trigger time. Identifying the tool used with the vibration magnitude and then calculating points accumulated became cumbersome. Collating the data took significant resource, and kept safety advisors in an office and not on site.The Reactec Analytics Platform incorporating the HAVmeter or HAVwear, collects data automatically and presents the data in a user friendly format with automatic reports and alerts to flag issues and allow control measure to be monitored for effectiveness.

Lack of credible data to help reduce and limit exposure

By contrast using the Reactec Analytics Platform Morgan Sindall/BBMV identified tool rotation within work groups were not happening. Sharing the exposure reports, particularly on high vibration activities, became standard practice. As part of the wider education programme team leaders were given access to the reports to enable safety briefs to include performance on managing HAV’s, engendering ownership and personal responsibility within the operating teams.

Exposure to litigation

Whilst the primary objective is to keep employees and sub-contractors 100% safe when delivering on time contracts there is an increase in employee litigation activity throughout the industry. The Crossrail project demanded the use of high vibratory tools, which if not managed correctly, the business or client could experience litigation for a HAV’s claim or HSE improvement notices. The Reactec Analytics Platform delivers an auditable, tamper proof system that shows each and every operator’s exposure. This data can be recalled at any time either from the platform or the archive to show an operators total exposure history. This would be irrefutable evidence more robustly protecting both the business and the client.

Basic at best compliance to the Vibration Directive 2005

Morgan Sindall have been at the forefront of the construction industry in ensuring the issue of premium PPE and educating all employees on working practise that must be followed. Health however has been more difficult to tackle and sometimes seen as the ‘poor cousin’ to safety. Deploying Reactec HAVwear & HAVmeter is recognition that compliance to the directive is not enough. For example using a paper based system complied with the basic requirement of the directive but the information collected was weak and did not support the essence of the directive for continuous reduction. Continuous digital monitoring goes beyond the directive and establishes a useable management tool to raise awareness and educate tool users.

Meeting Morgan Sindall’s corporate objective of “100% Safe”

Many companies, particularly in construction trumpet their commitment to safety, one of the most common threads is Zero Harm or Go Home Safe. Morgan Sindall are committed to 100% Safe, which the deployment of digital monitoring demonstrates their determination to make health just as important as safety.

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