Ten years ago, Barry John Foster was working as a electrical engineer, today, his company BJF Connections, an exciting and innovative group, has a turnover of £20 million with over 100 employees, five divisions covering the entire UK, servicing more than twenty key clients.
Recently, they shifted the entire firm over to HANDS HQ’s RAMS document creation and management system. We talked to Don Urquhart, their Head of Safety, Health, Environment and Quality, to find out how HANDS HQ’s expertise helped that growth.
Urquhart has worked in health & safety for over 20 years, rising to H&S Director of one of the UK’s largest maintenance firms until mid-2015, when he was invited by Barry Foster to join BJF. “My key role was to create an IMS system, pull SHEQ together, put in place the relevant systems and procedures, with a goal of achieving certification to ISO 9001, 14001, and OSHAS 18001 through UKAS, which we achieved in the space of the first 9 months”, Urquhart recalls.
In the process of embedding the Standards, it became obvious to Urquhart that there was a potential opportunity to improve the firm’s existing risk assessments and method statements (RAMS) process, which had been in place for some time, meeting a reasonable presentation standard, however, he noticed that the consistency of the documents varied amongst managers depending on previous training, understanding, time and complexity of the work. Indeed, as time passed, Urquhart and his safety manager spent more and more of their time supporting the then computer/manual document creation process.
Urquhart proposed to the MD, Barry Foster, that they should find software for creating risk assessments and method statements, as this would not only improve standards but demonstrate forward thinking, make the process more automated, simplify the process and as a consequence, reduce time and money in creating RAMS. He agreed and Urquhart diligently tried out a number of the major systems available. “I evaluated quite number of them but HANDS HQ came out top for our business model.”
Training his staff to use HANDS HQ was a simple process. Most got it straight away, proving to Urquhart that the time and investment was justified. Indeed, Urquhart found his staff became skilled extremely fast. “The amazing thing to come out of all of this is after the first two RAMS on HANDS HQ that you create with anybody new they take to the system and use it instinctively” says Urquhart. When he completes reviews on how the staff are getting on, the replies vary from ”Oh, wonderful”, “I love it, so easy to use” to “It takes me minutes rather than hours and the more you create, the more proficient you become.”
Since adopting the HANDS HQ system, rather than Urquhart’s team writing or assisting with a vast number of the old paper based documented process, “their time has been better spent creating other processes and procedures, monitoring the HANDS HQ system and policing safety on site”.
“Against the others that we looked at, HANDS HQ came out on top for the industry sector we operate within.”
“In fact recently, we had to install new fascia onto a commercial property in Dover which was a very large task, the contract manager created the RAMS using HANDS HQ, producing these efficiently, accurately and to a high standard, which enabled the job to proceed on time and keep all involved safe.”
“Urquhart stated that his team audit a number of HANDS HQ documents a month produced by staff, checking compliance and where required highlight areas for improvement to them as part of our continual improvement process then taking time to mentor and instruct the staff member which is appreciated by them. “We’re actually acting as mentors, quality control as well improving standards all of the time.” The HANDS HQ system has been integrated into the induction for managers and supervisors.
Urquhart couldn’t be happier with HANDS HQ, and foresees it being a key part of the company going forwards. “It’s essential to our growth and we’ve grown as a result of having HANDS HQ on-board”.
Since being implemented in June last year, HANDS HQ has already saved BJF Connections a considerable amount of money across all departments.
Using the old BJF RAMS system was definitely costing BJF time and money that could have been better spent, however, by introducing HANDS HQ this dramatically reduced this cost. “It’s turned a laborious and inefficient process into an industry-leading process that works like a dream” states Urquhart. Indeed, it’s hard to stop Urquhart praising it. We asked Urquhart what he thought was the single best thing; “our project and site managers being able to create RAMS documents quickly, accurately and with ease, which are accepted by our clients the first time, almost every time, making their lives easier. What more do you want from a RAMS system?”