Innovative environmental and safety practices praised on Willmott Dixon’s Pinderfields Hospital project

Willmott Dixon Construction’s Pinderfield Hospital reconfiguration works project involved the realignment and refurbishment of office space within the hospital in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, to provide 100 new bed spaces within various departments.

The hospital remained fully operational during the works which were carried out in phases to ensure minimal disturbance to the hospital’s day-to-day operations.

The works, which are defined within the Clinical Services Strategy for Pinderfields Hospital, comprised of the following elements:

  • Additional Bed Capacity – conversion of existing administrative facilities to provide bed ward facilities.
  • Additional High Dependency Unit Bed Capacity – conversion of outpatients’ facilities to provide three-bed ward facilities.
  • Maternity Services – alterations to existing maternity and respiratory facilities to provide additional maternity bed capacity.
  • Additional Minor Injuries Capacity – reconfigure existing A&E facilities.

Two innovations singled out on this project were Willmott Dixon’s Plan Plant Eat (PPE) initiative, which enabled local volunteers and the workforce to grow their own produce on a number of small plots on site, while the issuing of gel boot inserts prevented workforce fatigue and injury.

The boot insoles were introduced following issues of fatigue in feet and legs being flagged up by the project team through its feedback policy on site. Pedometers were issued to a number of operatives which indicated that many of them were taking as many as 15,000 steps per day. To help alleviate this problem the site issued gel inserts for boots to the workforce to reduce the problem being experienced and this was successful, based on feedback from the site team.

Outlining the ‘Plan Plant Eat’ initiative, Construction Manager, Alan Neal said:

“We chose to create an allotment on site because the planters were already receiving interest from the workforce who had allotments within their family circles. We compiled a list of crops on our mini allotment with the intention of feeding the workforce. Also, to help with the pollination of our crops, we introduced pollinating plants to attract bees and butterflies to the area.”

Just a few of the many crop varieties planted include French beans, beetroot, carrots, garlic, baby leeks, onions, peas, potatoes and swede. The project also included a variety of herbs, rhubarb, strawberries and an abundance of flowers.

One of the challenges of this project was ensuring great respect and minimal disruption for the hospital community – the staff, patients and visitors to the hospital.

Here are some examples of best practice initiatives carried out by Willmott Dixon:

  • The banksman used a magnetic broom to pick up metallic debris from the skip and materials compound.
  • Prior to the commencement of works an extensive consultation was undertaken by the contractor and client estates team and the contractor issued regular progress reports to the building users.
  • The project team encouraged the use of local labour on the project at all times.
  • A community engagement plan was in place to help identify and deliver the best experience for the hospital community and several goodwill gestures were made by the site team.
  • Construction and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) ambassadors maintained contact with several schools in the area and the site was very supportive of the Children’s Ward within the hospital, donating £1,500.
  • Operatives were using hospital shops and facilities, but not while wearing PPE or in branded work attire.
  • Site accommodation was provided using Eco Cabins to help reduce energy consumption on site.
  • The site compound maintained a grey water recycling system to help reduce water usage.
  • Due to the location of the works, the contractor was sensitive to the problems caused by noise and dust, with regular monitoring of both and action taken immediately when either were causing problems to those affected by the works.
  • The site actively sought to recycle demolition materials and recycled ironmongery from doors and electrical fittings which were given to the site facilities management team for spares.
  • The contractor’s ten-point project plan helped deliver an exceptional level of awareness in respect of environmental issues, with dedicated site environmental information displayed adjacent to the main pedestrian route into the compound.
  • The contractor made contact with the local bee conservation group and erected a number of individual bee homes within the grounds of the hospital, after obtaining client’s approval.
  • The site team also constructed two mini allotment patches within the compound in the form of raised beds. They enlisted the help of the local allotment society and worked with volunteers on site to plan and plant these beds, one with spring vegetables and the other with flowers recommended by the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) for pollinating insects.
  • The aim for the PPE (Plan, Plant, Eat) initiative was to raise enough produce to make a serving of vegetable soup for the site team.
  • The contractor used a ‘Naughty and Nice’ board within the compound to identify contractors who were performing above and below the required standards.
  • A shaving station was available for face-fit masks.
  • The contractor used solar powered PIR-activated audible warning units to detect vehicle movement in areas within the materials compound, as layout changed on an almost daily basis.
  • The site provided free parking for the ‘All Safe Champion’ who was drawn from the operatives on a monthly basis for exceptional commitment to the site’s health and safety.
  • Willmott Dixon also worked with key supply chain partners to provide discounted and free training within the supply chain.
  • Work experience and training routes into industry were also provided and the site had three apprentices on site at the time of the Monitor’s visit.
  • Banksman training was provided for 15 operatives from various subcontractors on site, to help ensure that deliveries could be dealt with safely and expediently.
  • Dedicated air extraction was provided to some areas where natural ventilation was not available.
  • In all cases face fit masks were provided with ‘press to check’ fit ability fitted to each mask.
  • Feedback from operatives about experiencing higher than normal levels of fatigue led to the issuing of pedometers to a number of operatives – and distances walked during the day were measured. This study revealed that the team were walking several miles a day just going to and from the remote work area of the hospital. To help reduce the fatigue, the contractor provided gel insoles for safety footwear which helped alleviate aching feet within the site team

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