Willmott Dixon Construction Ltd’s Centenary Quay development in Southampton

Safety was a firm priority for Willmott Dixon at its Centenary Quay Phase 3 project in Woolston, Southampton – a mixed use retail and residential development situated in the historic ship building yards alongside the River Itchen.

Willmott Dixon’s Centenary Quay project involved the construction of a supermarket and 180-residential unit on behalf of client Crest Nicholson Operations Limited.

The contractor introduced a pre-enrolment scheme on site which ensured that all future site operatives received a prior induction online before arriving on site.

Outlining the unique challenges encountered during the project, Willmott Dixon Site Manager, Matthew Kemp said:

“As the site is positioned directly opposite residential apartments we had to adapt some of the building sequence to avoid working late; adjusting the size of concrete pours is a good example. As there was initially no electrical power on the site, both the offices and construction areas were powered via generators. Super-silenced models with acoustic fenced enclosures were utilised.

“A large proportion of our workforce come from the Southampton area and were therefore respectful of their surroundings.”

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

  • A DVD presentation was made from aerial footage recorded by a drone and this was used to promote and explain the project on site.
  • A comprehensive site induction included impressing upon operatives the need to keep the site and its facilities in a highly presentable condition.
  • The standard of operative dress was very high and corporate PPE was extensively used by the workforce.
  • The development was publicised locally and there were several positive press articles relating to the project.
  • The site engaged with the local community at an early stage to ensure they were fully briefed on forthcoming site activities, and this continued throughout the project through regular news bulletins. All deliveries were required to adhere to a strict traffic plan and this information was issued at the pre-order stage to each supply chain member.
  • Six members of the Willmott Dixon team from the Centenary Quay project took part in the company’s Cobham Challenge – a fundraising drive to raise money for Chestnut Tree House, a local children’s hospice. Raising an impressive £97,000 at the date of the Monitor’s visit for this worthy cause, Willmott Dixon was fundraising through a host of different activities such as selling charity wristbands, corporate bag collections, a bake-off, dress-down Fridays, a Golf Day and the Cobham Challenge which consisted of two-day challenges involving hiking, road cycling or mountain biking.
  • Community participation also included the site’s ‘Class of Your Own’ scheme which raised awareness of the construction industry among local schools. The Scheme helps to promote all construction skills and around 80 schoolchildren from years eight and nine benefited from the presentation.
  • Willmott Dixon also participated in the CITB Crest Bronze award community challenge and supported a local BMX club by helping with fundraising activities, including a barbecue.
  • Community five-a-side football matches were also planned, involving local people and site personnel.
  • The site team supported the local authority employment skills plan.
  • It also worked with New Forest District Council with regard to timber sourcing from local woodlands.
  • A training day was hosted on site for the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and site community open days were held.
  • A training programme was established on site to benefit local student groups of 14 to 16-year-olds.
  • The site manager utilised a safety helmet-mounted camera to record his day-to-day site activities and the recorded footage was downloaded to the website, creating a valuable link to site activities. Footage was captured on DVDs which were used for future training initiatives.
  • Feedback questionnaires were successfully used to gauge local opinion on site performance.
  • Techniques such as noise monitoring, dust suppression and master switches for non-critical site lighting were all utilised to minimize the site’s impact on the environment. Water, electricity and diesel were also carefully monitored through monthly EKPI (Environmental Key Performance Indicators) returns.
  • The site operated considerately alongside the Southampton foreshore area which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The team carried out weekly litter picks on the foreshore.
  • A nesting swan was protected by a series of measures implemented by the site team.
  • Environmental credentials and achievements were publicised within a widely circulated newsletter and also reported internally to the site workforce.
  • There was a video link to the company Environmental Manager, this preventing any unnecessary journeys to the site. The link facilitated a comprehensive update of environmental credentials and achievements relating to the site which could be relayed to meetings.
  • Sustainability site audits were introduced that set 10 sustainability goals for each project run by the company.
  • The site encouraged the supply chain to take an active role in health and safety on site and empower the supervisors to intervene in activity they believe is, or has, the potential to be unsafe. Good practice/idea sharing is promoted through an on-site suggestions box to share learning from other sites.
  • Monthly consultation meetings with all supply chain members encouraged healthy discussions on all aspects of on-site safety. This was also the forum where individuals were nominated by their peers for recognition of safety performance, or particularly good attitudes towards safety standards.
  • Simple incentive schemes were implemented on site to encourage best operative practice from a safety perspective.
  • The contractor introduced a pre-enrolment scheme on site which provided future site operatives with the opportunity to complete part of the induction process online before going on site for the first time. The process involved a set test and included the compilation of operative information, including medical conditions and contact details in case of emergency.
  • There were excellent communication measures implemented, involving the use of modern technology to optimum effect, including a strong focus on safety-related issues.
  • The site recorded 300,000 man hours on site without a RIDDOR reportable accident.
  • Demonstrating a consideration for workforce wellbeing, the contractor arranged for the ‘Tooth Booth’, a mobile dental check-up service, and the ‘Blood Bus’ to visit the site. This gave operatives the chance to get their health checked and possibly give blood.
  • There was a strong emphasis on occupational health advice and promotions included a focus on mental health, and also physical health issues.
  • The site accommodation and its sanitary facilities were clean and hygienic and catered extremely well for a workforce of mixed ability and gender.
  • A number of apprentices were engaged on site, through the local authority employment skills plan, totalling 116 weeks of apprentice placement at the time of the Monitor’s second visit.
  • Catering for an ethnically diverse workforce, the site accommodation included a prayer room facility.
  • The contractor took proactive steps to encourage disadvantaged groups into the construction industry and remained committed to operative training at all levels.

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