Bancroft make safety clearly visible with status tagging system

Project background

With 150 directly employed staff working on fast track fit-outs at any one time across the South East, health and safety has to be a priority for mechanical and electrical services company Bancroft. With increasing legislation and pressure for companies to achieve excellence in this area, Bancroft wanted to improve business performance through better management of its equipment in terms of safety, maintenance and location tracking.

The solution was a visual tagging system from equipment status management specialists, Scafftag. The wide range of Scafftag tagging systems makes the latest status of equipment clearly visible, where it is needed most. The tags are attached to each item of equipment providing specific details of inspections, maintenance work and asset ID number and location. Removing the insert from the holder means that any item of equipment can be instantly put into Do Not Use status. This extra level of protection allows managers and employees to make informed decisions rather than risk making assumptions.

Bancroft's challenges

Bancroft prides itself on its expertise in the fast track fit-out and refurbishment market. In fact, 70% of its turnover comes from this particular sector, much of it from the City and West End of London. The company has a Special Works Division that works on projects ranging from £100,000 to £1 million, although Bancroft typically works on projects ranging from £500,000 to £10 million.

Rather than sub-contracting work out, Bancroft delivers its mechanical and electrical services using its directly employed workforce. Work is only sub-contracted for specialist installations such as ductwork, sprinkler systems, fire alarms, security, water treatment and thermal insulation.

This commitment to in-house expertise has given Bancroft a superb track record of success and exceptional abilities when it comes to meeting even the most demanding programmes. It has also meant that ensuring employees health and wellbeing has become an absolute priority. A large proportion of the tasks Bancroft's in-house team carry out involve working at height - representing a risk of significant of injury if suitable safety practices are not in place.

All Bancroft's employees are fully trained and the company is:

  • a registered training and test centre for IOSH (the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health)
  • a test centre for the Eletcrotechnical Certification Scheme (ECS), which is affiliated to the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS)

Health and safety training and compliance are very important to the company, in fact they are imbedded as part of the culture. Unusually for a company of Bancroft's type, its health and safety team has been brought together with its testing and inspection teams ensuring that risk reduction and avoidance are the top priorities on every site.

Speaking about health and safety, Jason Dodd, Health and Safety Director for Bancroft, explains "The environments that we work in could be very dangerous if the proper procedures were not followed. We work hard to train all our staff in health and safety to make sure that they are aware of the dangers that they could face. However, we also wanted to put in an extra layer of protection for both them and the company when it comes to working at height, using access equipment and electrical lock-off procedures.

Bancroft has built up its in-house workforce through the use of apprentices. The Government has been working on proposals to enable more young people to enter into employment through apprenticeship schemes. Although they may seem an obvious solution, for many companies they can pose a challenge in terms of their skills and experience gap. An apprentice starting his first work placement in September could have just turned 16 and will need a lot of careful training and supervision to ensure that they remain safe in the workplace. Last year, 32 people under the age of 19 were injured in the workplace, seven fatally. Figures that highlight the very real dangers they can face.

Recognising these issues, Bancroft has worked incredibly hard to ensure the safety of their apprentices. Jason continues "Apprentices are key to the future and companies should be encouraged to employ them. However, we have to be aware of their limitations and take the time to train them well, ensuring that they are working within their capabilities and not running ahead of themselves.

The Scafftag Solution

From all of the options in the Scafftag range, the Multitag system provided the most suitable solution for most of Bancroft's working at height and the access equipment. Personalised in the Bancroft corporate colours, the tagging system uses the unique Scafftag holder and insert structure that is attached to the equipment, ensuring that the latest status is instantly visible at the point of use. They are used in varying formats on all of the company's stepladders, podiums, steps and transformers. The company also uses a customised design of Scafftag.s Towertag system to control the inspections of its mobile towers.

Jason uses the Podium Tag to illustrate how the process works "We use the tagging system for our podiums to control inspections, maintenance and identification. The tag contains a quick-reference podium inspection checklist to run through each time before a podium is given the all clear. The podiums can only be used if they are physically signed off onsite by trained supervisors or managers.

The system really helps as it gives a very visual indication that the equipment has been inspected and passed or failed. Likewise, it will also show if the equipment is not safe to use as the insert is removed to display Do Not Use on the holder.

By putting this system in place within the company, Bancroft has made sure that it complies with the working at height regulations, and if any incidents or accidents do happen, they are able to quickly find out why and how. It provides the company with an extra level of protection should a case be brought against them.

Jason also states that Scafftag's systems have proved particularly invaluable in helping to protect its apprentices. Podiums are built on site and have to be signed off by a site supervisor, so the risk that an apprentice could have built one incorrectly and continued to use it is minimised. This process prevents apprentices from either trying to do too much or feeling pressured into proving themselves and not asking for help.

The company also uses a Scafftag product for its electrical lock-off procedures. Each project has a lock-off box onsite in the site office. Scafftag developed a security seal, made from a thin paper that is placed over the side of the distribution board as a seal. If anyone removes the cover plate for any reason, the seal is broken - identifying that either additional circuits have been installed or maintenance works may have been carried out.

Jason continues "For us this is especially important for contracts in big offices that often have their own maintenance departments and may choose to do maintenance on the distribution board themselves. When we have completed a project, each distribution board has a security seal fitted with a unique number and is signed off by the test and inspection engineer for the project. This clearly identifies any work undertaken once we have completed the project".

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