After McCann introduced an industry-defining safety initiative on the M27 motorway upgrade scheme between J4 – J11, they announced that the project was recently awarded a Blue Star Award by Highways England for safety innovation.
Partnering with specialist glove manufacturer STALSEN and using a glove originally designed for the automotive industry, McCann successfully introduced new-to-the-market hand protection for the workforce on the M27 project with the support of Bam Morgan Sindall Infrastructure Joint Venture (bmJV). This new glove has replaced standard issue work gloves in order to reduce the risk of hand injury, improve hand health, reduce environmental waste and improve operative satisfaction and uptake.
The product has been in use since January 2021 and as a result of its strong performance, seen the M27 project presented with a Highways England Blue Star Award for safety innovation – an accolade awarded to projects which demonstrate “exceptional performance or new initiatives not widely used on other sites.”
An evolution in the approach to hand health is overdue for the UK’s civil engineering sector in the view of our Project Health and Safety Manager Dave McPherson, and he sees STALSEN’s product as a great way to solve common problems for site operatives across the country.
“Occupational health can be overlooked in our industry and when observing the levels of hand protection already available, standard-issue gloves are, more often than not, seen as disposable items rather than a technical piece of equipment. We felt that this mindset needed to change to better protect workers and minimise waste. The way we see the industry achieving this is by moving away from low cost gloves to a higher end product in order to reduce stock turnover rates and evolve and improve levels of protection,”
For Dave, addressing the underlying reasons why operatives might not wear the correct hand protection for each task is paramount. Involving the workforce in the innovation has helped to create a solution that not only improves the provision of safety equipment, but helps to challenge perceptions and attitudes towards wearing Personal Protective Equipment.
“We consulted our workforce and much of the feedback we received suggested that no single glove offered the right levels of comfort and dexterity for multiple jobs. This means that operatives frequently change their gloves throughout the working day, often multiple times per hour – creating barriers around practicality and convenience. This can create a vicious circle because if products are not popular with operatives and they don’t like wearing them or they wear the wrong glove for a given task, we can end up with a higher probability of accidents. All of this makes it harder to achieve high levels of compliance – creating an ongoing challenge around ways of thinking about hand safety,”
He continues, “If adequate protection isn’t used, then common injuries such as cuts and grazes can occur far more easily. There’s also a significantly increased risk of developing serious long-term health problems associated with uncontrolled exposure to concrete or other hazardous materials including sensitization to chemicals and occupational dermatitis – causing hands to crack, itch and bleed. These health problems can take root without any sign and it is this lack of immediate signals which means that often no action is taken in the short-term to prevent them. What we want to do is make hand protection more convenient in order to lower these risks.”
A recent report by the Health and Safety Executive showed that the construction industry has seen an estimated 60,000 Musculoskeletal lost time injuries per year in the last decade – of which roughly 20% are hand injuries. As a result, workers are twice as likely to develop dermatitis when compared to other industries. For Dave and our team, reading these figures made everyone realise that an industry-wide change was long overdue.
Dave made contact with specialist glove manufacturer STALSEN after seeing their Rayza RX565 product online – a glove commonly used in automotive manufacturing. This model of glove, most notably adopted by a large automotive manufacturer, offers uncompromised levels of dexterity while offering water resistance, high levels of grip and protecting hands against cuts and chemicals.
It was clear that by utilising STALSEN’s expertise in glove innovation, a long-term solution could be found that would revolutionise hand safety for site operatives in the civil engineering industry – as STALSEN’s Director Patrick Tydeman goes on to explain.
“We approach all hand-based problems in the same way,” says Patrick. “We’re about more than just the glove and always go above and beyond to find the right answer for each and every customer,”
“Our mission is to make hand injuries history through tailor made solutions, which can only be achieved by listening to the customer and applying our many years of knowledge and experience – as we did when we were approached by Dave and the team at McCann,”
Patrick continues, “The beauty of the RX565 is the story of innovation that formed it’s three-layered design. The first layer is a lightweight lining offering high levels of cut resistance and comfort. This is then covered with a nitrile blue coating which provides an effective liquid resistant barrier before a final black textured nitrile coating to enhance the grip and oil resistance,”
“Crucially, all of this protection is achieved without sacrificing dexterity – which is vital, so that the protection nor the comfort inhibits the functionality of the glove. Using gloves which are too cumbersome makes handling objects or performing tasks incredibly difficult. The RX565 is an 18-gauge liner so it’s very lightweight, allowing wearers to feel what they’re working with while knowing they have the protection they need.”
Following on from the success of an initial 4-week trial, the product was not only commissioned for use for all operatives on the M27 – delivered by bmJV – but has now been adopted by us as our standard issue hand protection across all of our concreting operations across the UK.
“We’re delighted to have introduced a new level of safety to the industry through McCann. This really is a game changer for civil engineering and construction and for me, seeing the product recognised by Highways England is testament to our team’s ability to innovate and think outside of the box.” adds Patrick.
Dave is delighted with the results achieved to-date – with STALSEN’s product making an instant impact on both site safety and attitudes towards adopting hand protection.
“Since introducing the new glove, the project has reduced glove consumption by over 60% and reduced non-compliance with hand protection requirements to zero. This is fantastic to see,” says Dave.
“Partnering with STALSEN has enabled us to achieve our goal of improving hand health standards not just for this project, but for future projects as well, and we’re delighted to see the M27 scheme awarded the Highways England Blue Star Award in recognition of this innovation. Maintaining good hand health is vital for the industry as a whole both in the short and long-term, and we look forward to seeing this glove adopted by further McCann and bmJV projects in future.”
Victor Johnson, Highways England’s Project Manager for the M27 motorway upgrade scheme, said: “We are extremely proud that the M27 is associated with this brilliant innovation which fully complies with Personal Protective Equipment (Enforcement) Regulations 2018. The glove’s adaptability has proved to be a major benefit as it is multi-operational while also being waterproof, cut resistant, light and supportive of dexterity. It is even known to be resistant to lean concrete. The glove is more efficient by eliminating the need to replace it for various tasks undertaken by the same workforce and has been a huge asset in our working practices.”
Nigel Fullam, project director for bmJV on the M27 motorway upgrade scheme, said: “Enabling and supporting our supply chain to bring innovations to life is a key part of our approach. We’re delighted to have supported the trial and subsequent adoption of these gloves on our M27 project,”
“The safety and wellbeing of everyone involved in delivering our schemes are of paramount importance to us, and by working with McCann we have reduced the potential for hand injuries on our M27 scheme, we’re also making our operations and the industry a safer and more productive environment.”