Avonside Group wins Health & Safety Gold Award

Sarah Burke with the NFRC Health and Safety Gold Award winner certificate
Sarah Burke with the NFRC Health and Safety Gold Award winner certificate

Avonside Group has secured the NFRC Health and Safety Gold Award 2020 in the UK Roofing Awards.

The Group’s safety, health, environment, and quality manager, Sarah Burke submitted the entry, and the awards submission form asked questions about the company’s accidents, health and safety stats and RIDDOR (reported accidents), any Health and Safety Executive non-conformalities, and things Avonside Group have done relating to health and safety which are exemplary.

To meet the ‘exemplary’ criteria, Sarah wrote about the work Avonside Group has done with the NFRC around raising awareness of the importance of leaving internal fall-protection in place on new housing developments until the main roof covering is installed to prevent falls from height, which is one of the biggest causes of accidents and fatalities in construction.

As well as Sarah meeting with Gary Walpole, health and safety officer at the NFRC, Avonside Group has worked tirelessly with customers to ensure the correct internal fall protection systems remain in place throughout the duration of their works.

“I thought housebuilders going crazy with newbuild housing due to the Stamp Duty holiday extension would result in a spike in accidents as construction sites got busier, but accidents on our sites remained low. I largely put this down to COVID-19 making staff more aware of health and safety in a wider sense,” said Sarah.

Ongoing proactive staff training
Offering its staff online training will have also contributed to increased health and safety awareness. For example, Sarah has been offering staff, including managers, one-hour CPD courses each month, which cover different subjects from risk assessments to principal contract management.

Sarah explained: “It has always been difficult to take roofers offsite and it is hard to get roofers all in one room, but now staff can login from their phones and participate in more accessible training. The training is more popular, and people are more interested because it is available in short, bite-sized chunks.

“Because of this, I think staff will continue to book onto CPD courses after lockdown. In fact I have sessions booked in for May, and people have said they have already benefited from what has been covered in previous CPD courses.”

Sarah added: “COVID-19 has remapped everything we do at Avonside. We’ve always had the technology but now we are really seeing the benefits it can bring. Online training is more economical with there being less travelling, and even our health and safety committee meetings that used to be in person are now delivered over Microsoft Teams, and more people attend now they are online.”