There is a major roads project underway in Manchester aimed at cutting congestion and improving journey times on parts of the M60 and M62. According to the government, the Highways Agency has signed a £184 million deal with infrastructure firm Balfour Beatty to oversee the smart motorway scheme. The project comprises a 17 mile stretch which will include the latest technology used to monitor traffic levels, provide traffic information to road users, and #ease congestion through the use of variable speed limits on overhead message signs. This project required a large workforce, each of whom had to undertake an induction.
Balfour Beatty will lead the project and are in charge of overseeing the work of three other delivery partners – Costain, Carillion and a BAM – Morgan Sindall Joint Venture. Writing for our guest blog today is John Pilkington, the Health & Safety Manager for Manchester Smart Motorways. He details how Initiafy helped turn a time-consuming and expensive induction process into something reliable, efficient and cost effective.
Utilizing the Initiafy online inductions software platform
As of of the 1st February 2015, Manchester Smart Motorways (MSM) has been running a two-part induction process for all new staff and contractors joining the project. The new induction process consists of an online presentation and a test before the new starter attends the project offices for drug and alcohol screening, and a site-specific presentation and test. The presentation at the project offices is updated on a monthly basis and includes the latest work activities, incident/observation trends and any project accidents.
Original Induction Process
The original induction process consisted of drug and alcohol screening followed by an induction briefing carried out by a Safety Advisor. The induction process took an average of approximately 3 hours to complete at the main project offices. Inductions were held on Monday and Wednesday mornings, commencing at 7 am and regularly not finishing until 10:00 – 10:30 pm.
The issue with this process was the amount of time it took, which reduced productivity. Then we had other issues like the task of preparing the course, the length of time it took to administer the induction and the constant worry that inductees would become bored or distracted.
Various solutions were discussed, including having shorter inductions, then bringing inductees back in after a period of time to complete the process after they had spent time on site. The main issues with this approach were:
- It would be difficult to administer.
- It would not capture individuals who are only onsite for a short time.
The adoption of an online induction process seemed to be a good solution. Generic information can be completed prior to attending site, with a specific briefing being delivered along with drug and alcohol screening on-site, reducing the time taken to both complete and administer the process.
Online Induction Process
The new induction process is completed in two parts. The first part is an online induction presentation using the Initiafy platform that can be completed on any internet connected device with an internet browser and takes approximately 25 – 30 minute to complete. There is also a test at the end of the online induction, which will ask the inductee 10 questions picked at random from a pool of questions. The pass mark is set at 90% and if an inductee fails the same questions they are not asked a second time, and the number of attempts is logged and reported.
Once the inductee has successfully completed the Initiafy induction and passed the test, the inductee is issued with a pass certificate, including a passcode. The passcode can then be used to book the inductee into the second stage of the induction process in the project offices. MSM, or the employer representative, will use the system to look at the available induction dates and book the inductee into the most appropriate induction.
When the inductee attends the second stage induction, they will receive an induction briefing which is updated monthly with the latest accident, incident and observation trends, along with the current work activities on site. The induction presentation is followed by a ten question test based on the induction presentation. The test questions are reviewed monthly.
The second stage induction is followed by the drug and alcohol testing. The average time to complete the second stage induction, with the drug and alcohol testing, is 1 hour and 15 minutes. The inductions are held on Monday and Wednesday mornings and start at 8 am.
Advantages of the Online Induction
The two-stage induction process has significantly reduced the amount of time that an inductee spends at the project office before they can commence work on the site. Contractors have commented that the reduced amount of time spent in the office allows them to commence work on site on the same day as the second stage induction. This was not always possible with the original induction process. We have looked at the advantages for inducting circa 2,000 employees in terms of cost, and at an average hourly rate of £30hr, the cost saving is circa £120,000. There is also increased productivity of approximately 4,000 extra onsite hours.
Along with the reduced amount of time for the inductee, there are also considerable time savings for the MSM Project staff. The time savings can be seen below.
The online induction commenced at MSM on 1st February 2015. The contractors were supported by the Safety Team on how to use the new system. During February, MSM saw a reduction in the number of new people attending site induction of around 20%. However, March and April show that the average number of new inductees has risen to around 125 people per month. The initial reduction of new inductees was due to normal programme variations. Teething issues were quickly resolved by the Safety Team and feedback from the contractors used on the project has been very positive. One contractor said, “we spend on average £1,200 per year on inductions of our staff, it is a big step in the right direction”. The online induction as part of a two-stage induction process has generated significant time savings to MSM Project staff and the inductee.