Star safety scheme makes the grade for DBBG in Dubai

Twelve months ago, the Dutco Balfour Beatty Group launched a new HSE star grading intiative. Construction Week talks to Grahame McCaig, general manager of DBBG, to find out more about the system, and the results being achieved by the company.

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By  Zoe Naylor Published  March 18, 2006

|~|113int200.gif|~|According to McCaig, DBBG’s commitment to health and safety will lead to a reduced accident rate, increased awareness and financial improvements.|~|Where did the idea for an HSE star grading initiative originate?

We decided to review various international construction industry HSE initiatives to see which could best be adapted to suit our situation here in Dubai. We eventually decided to model our initiative on the BIFSA (Building Industry Federation of South Africa) star grading scheme, which has been operating successfully in South Africa for a number
of years.

What exactly is the star grading scheme?

It is simply a method of assessing and acknowledging compliance with a predetermined set of company standard operating procedures, which, if implemented and maintained, will lead to both improved project HSE and financial performance.

The procedures are fairly extensive and cover all aspects of project HSE we would expect in the UAE. The individual procedures are allocated value through a points system. The projects are then audited, points awarded and totalled.
At the end of the process the total points tally relates to a specific star rating. The star rating is similar to that used in the hotel industry, with five stars giving evidence of excellence.

How long has the system been in operation?

The standard operating procedures were introduced to all “live” contracts three months ago, to enable them to make their own assessment of compliance and introduce changes where appropriate. Our initial internal audits are now complete and we are pleased to be able to award star ratings to a number of our existing contracts.

What are the real benefits of introducing a scheme such as this one?

DBBG takes HSE very seriously. Our employees are our most valuable asset, and the primary objective in introducing this scheme to redouble our effort to comply with our responsibility to ensure their welfare and that of all people affected by our construction activities.

We also maintain that a committed HSE focus will improve the overall performance of the business. I have heard the “safety costs money” cliché, but I disagree with it.
By reducing accidents we are cutting down on lost time; through the provision of safe working conditions we are maximising efficiency and productivity of our work force; and in providing well organised, accessible storage areas we are minimising wastage and breakage of materials, all of which improve our competitiveness.

Are there statistics produced to monitor safety improvement?

Yes. Balfour Beatty is one of our shareholders and we therefore strictly comply with the UK requirements for recording and reporting incidents. Our current accumulated Accident Frequency Rate (AFR) for 2005 is 0.08. This compares against a 2004 year end AFR of 0.18 and a 2003 year end AFR of 0.19. I am encouraged by the commitment of all our employees to continually improve and drive this figure down.

What else is DBBG doing to improve safety on its projects?

The quality and frequency of training and instruction remains the most important tool we use in educating our employees in safe methods of working. In 2003, we introduced our Mobile Safety Training Unit (MSTU), which travels from project to project enabling better, more frequent on-site training. We have always had a fairly stringent training scheme in the Group, but faced continual complaints from production staff at the time that employees were being removed from the sites to receive formal instruction.

It was in response to this that we commissioned, developed and built the MSTU. The fully air-conditioned unit can accommodate up to 35 individuals and is equipped with the latest audio/visual and computer equipment. The unit has its own in-built generating power units making it suitable for use across our business, even in remote locations.

What ratings have your projects achieved to date?

We have awarded five of our current “live” projects with three-star ratings. I feel it is important to acknowledge and reward progress and at the same time recognise the ability to improve. I would eventually like all our projects to attain a five- star rating. All new projects are being issued with a copy of the standard operating procedures relating to the star rating scheme and requested to set up their projects with the
objective of achieving a five-star rating.

So far, we have awarded three projects with five-star ratings: Our GAC Head Office project in Jebel Ali, our Jumeirah Lake Towers cooling plant project, and our Creek Extension project.||**||

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