Customer story
Barnwood Group case study

Creating better, consistent RAMS documents

The Barnwood Group, which comprises Barnwood Construction, Barnwood Shopfitting Barnwood General Works and Aluminium Sashes has now been established for 55 years. Barnwood Construction is now constructing some of the most prestigious developments in Gloucestershire including Phase One of the £55 million regeneration of Bakers Quay and the new Gloucestershire College campus at Cinderford's Northern Quarter.

Barnwood Shopfitting continue to work with well known highs street names like H&M, Cos, Jigsaw, Monsoon and JD Sports Signet Group, WH Smith and Vodafone.

Before implementing HANDS HQ, Barnwood created all of their risk assessments and method statements (RAMS) and construction phase plans (CPPs) using Word or Excel documents/templates or printing them off and completing them by hand.

We talked to Nathanael Challacombe, Group HSEQ Manager to find how HANDS HQ was implemented and how they started to benefit from:

  • Consistent documentation and processes
  • Better quality, more resilient documents
  • Document control across different sites

The challenges

The group previously used Word document templates for RAMS and in some cases printed and hand wrote the documents. Also, each company within the group had a different template for their RAMS, COSHH and CPP documents. This caused inconsistency and confusion.

The Word document templates were limited so if the RA needed was not available, the teams would have to stop and carry out a point of work RA, which was not sustainable.

Further to this, the process for creating RAMS documents also became an obstacle and more like a tickbox exercise rather than creating bespoke RAMS documents for each project.

One of Barnwood’s clients, a major UK airport, rejected the RAMS for the project as they wanted to see the risk matrix working for each hazard identified, something the existing documentation lacked. This was a moment of realisation that something needed to change.

How HANDS HQ helped

For Barnwood, health and safety considerations as well as concern for the environment applies to everything they do. All works are carried out in strict compliance with statutory provisions and they are accredited members of the Contractors Health & Safety Assessment Scheme (CHAS), ConstructionLine, Safecontractor and are ROSPA Gold Award winners. They needed their RAMS and CPP documentation to exceed these exacting requirements.

Nathanael set out looking for software that could help with RAMS, CPPs and COSHH assessments as a primary need. HANDS HQ not only fulfils this need but also helps with visibility and control for Nathanael with everything being in one place and creating comprehensive, project-specific documents, quickly.

“It literally takes 10 minutes. It's just very quick… But the speed doesn't worry me… We're producing better and more resilient documents, so that's all good.”

The process of creating projects in HANDS HQ really allows the team at Barnwood a chance to really think about their projects and how to plan their works.


Using HANDS HQ has resulted in a more robust document that includes everything they need; risk assessment, method statement and COSHH documentation.

Each of the 4 divisions have a slightly different process when using HANDS HQ, although on the whole, contract managers use HANDS HQ directly and they are then checked before they are sent off to the client.

“We are getting more robust risk assessments and COSHH forms, which for me is great. When I was taken on a couple of years ago, part of my brief was to bring consistency and quality into the business and HANDS HQ really does that”

Barnwood’s clients like the documents and the feedback has been very positive with everything being in one document - it's easy to understand and convenient. Everyone using HANDS HQ has found it to be intuitive and easy to use. The risk matrix is convenient. But the whole process of putting these documents together is basically ensuring that the team on the ground, those actually doing the work can understand the control measures that should be in place. HANDS HQ creates a clear, well laid out and understandable document that is simple to go through with the employees conducting the work.

“It is a consistent approach now and it’s an established part of our pre-site flow of how jobs get set up”

About Barnwood

Barnwood Group was established in 1962 and has grown into four separate businesses employing more than 240 people;

Barnwood Construction operates generally within the Central and South West Regions of England, and has an enviable record in the successful completion of a wide range of projects.

Barnwood Shopfitting operates throughout the UK for many well know High Street names including Vodafone, WH Smith, Nationwide, Debenhams, and H&M, and many other high street names.

Barnwood General Works conducts commercial refurbishment works including education and school refurbishments within a 30 mile radius of Gloucester.

Aluminium Sashes are specialist manufacturers and installers of curtain walling and window systems and work for many main contractors through the UK.

Nathanael Challacombe, is a chartered safety professional working for Barnwood as their Group Health, Safety, Environment and Quality Manager. He oversees the group’s occupational health, safety, Environmental and Quality systems and had an instrumental role in implementing HANDS HQ.

Nathanael is Vice Chair of the South West Working Well Together Group who’s aim to help small and self employed business understand safety legislation and put good safety practices into place.

Nathanael is also a committee member of the IOSH Construction Group.

Find out how HANDS HQ can help your business. Contact us today.