Sir Robert McAlpine

Case study - HAVS


Design, Build, Finance & Operate (DBFO) contract for the A19 Trunk Road Network as part of a 30 year contract. Sir Robert McAlpine has been delivering this 24 hour service for 20 years.  


The work ranges from the design, construction and  maintenance of of roads and bridges to landscape management, safety fence repair/renewal, drainage works and asset condition surveys. The DBFO employs over 80 onsite workers who are exposed to vibration from a wide range of power tools from strimmers to concrete breakers. 

In accordance with Health and Safety regulations Sir Robert McAlpine perform risk assessments to understand the levels of exposure from the work environment and from hand held power tools. Based on these assessments, measures of control have been designed and are reviewed in order to remove or reduce residual exposure. Due to the wide range of tool usage and varied project requirements multiple assessments were required to understand the specifics of each type of work and tool usage. One example was to measure the length of time a tank of fuel lasted in a strimmer. This provided a consistent measurement against which the level of exposure could be assessed and controlled. It was not until battery operated strimmers were later used that this form of exposure assessment and measurement was questioned and raised a wider review on the understanding of accuracy of exposure from tool use. Rather than rely on an estimation of general use for specific projects which met with regulations it was still seen as a “best guess” and Sir Robert McAlpine did not just want to meet regulations but to review how best to protect workers from harm. 

Andy Patterson, an Engineer at the DBFO said “Sir Robert McAlpine promotes itself as a family run business and my colleagues and I certainly feel part of a family environment. A key part of that is our health and safety management system which is continually reviewed and updated in light of new legislation, guidance from regulatory bodies and our commitment to continuous improvement. Aware of technology advancements we wanted to see how we could improve our risk assessment and reduction activities to better protect workers from hand arm vibration risks”. 


Andy went on to say “We recognised the Reactec Analytics Platform as common sense solution and an extremely practical system to further monitor our workers exposure. Following an internal review of the Reactec Analytics Platform, the DBFO management saw the potential to monitor, for the first time, an individual’s actual exposure to vibration. Staying true to the family ethos, instead of sampling exposure, the project director requested that all workers exposure to vibration to be monitored. The Reactec Analytics Platform was deployed throughout the DBFO to constantly monitor exposure”.   


Andy reported that “The tool operators found very few problems in using the HAVwear which is worn on the wrist. Also the information we get from the online Analytics reports is eye opening. It made tangible an invisible risk and helped us to refine our control measures. For example we could see certain operators had higher exposure levels than expected which we investigated immediately.  This was partly down to operators not sufficiently work-sharing on certain tasks. Using the analytics reports we could easily see which operators as part of a team were more exposed and from which tools. This allowed us to quickly understand what was happening and, once reviewed with the team leaders and operators, decide how best to address it. The system also allows us to monitor work patterns to ensure the changes are being implemented”. 

“We also noticed some operators were over using specific tools which was typical of tools retained in vehicles. We always knew the over use of tools can create unexpectedly increased levels of vibration but this was almost impossible to track until now. We have since encouraged tools to be rotated every six weeks to create a more balanced tool usage program”. 

“Overall we have already seen a drop in exposure since we deployed the Reactec Analytics Platform a few months ago. What is incredibly useful is that the HAVwear also senses the wearers’ vibration exposure during actual tool use which we can view online in the Analytics reports.  This extra layer of information allows us to check for unexpected levels of exposure. It may also help with future training of operators by assessing their technique which can have a huge impact on exposure levels”

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