A Dorset metal decking company whose vehicle cover more than 550,000 miles a year is at the forefront of moves to make roads and transportation safer for construction workers.
SMD Ltd, of Poole, has implemented a number of operational directives for its employees and is urging the construction industry as a whole to follow suit.
This follows the company’s strenuous efforts to improve safety on often hazardous building sites by requiring site operatives working away from home to stay in hotels rather than driving long distances.
Now SMD, the company known for shaping Britain’s skyline, is leading by example by taking every possible precaution to ensure its employees do not become road accident statistics.
The company’s 34 Renault vans covered a total of 551,447 miles in 2016 transporting staff and materials around the UK. Twenty-five new vehicles have been added to the fleet this year.
Managing director Ben Pratten said: “We have a duty of care to all employees and safety is our number one priority – not just on-site but in every aspect of our work.
“We have more than 100 staff working on projects across the UK and huge amounts of materials being transported to construction sites ranging from Devon to north Scotland.
“It is imperative therefore to have a set of commonsense policies in place to safeguard SMD staff when they are on the road.
“And with around three million people employed in the UK construction industry, equating to 10 per cent of the total workforce, I would urge other companies to take note of our strategy.”
SMD, one of only a handful of British firms to design, manufacture and install its own steel decking systems, has a series of policies for drivers.
These include that should staff live more than 100 miles away from where they are working they are required to stay away in paid-for accommodation – the aim being to lessen the time on the road behind the wheel thus reducing tiredness.
All vehicles are replaced every three years, weekly vehicle checks are carried out to ensure standards remain high and if damage occurs, repairs are carried out quickly to ensure staff have the best quality vehicle available.
In 2016, 324 billion vehicle miles were driven in the UK. There were 181,384 reported casualties, of which 24,101 were serious injuries and 1,792 fatal.
This compares favourably with all EU countries except Sweden and Malta, while accident statistics for the USA are four times higher.
There are no specific accident figures available for the construction industry, with cars (46%), pedestrians (25%) motorcyclists (18%) and cyclists (6%), however, the ‘other’ category (6%) includes vans and lorries. Recorded statistics for vans were 68 casualties and lorries saw 66 casualties
Ben added: “Although the accident rate for vans is relatively low, we want to drive it lower and we strive for this by continuing to provide our workforce with the best vehicles and equipment on the market.”
SMD, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2017, employs more than 100 staff at locations across the UK, including Leeds, Nottingham and Glasgow.
The company, which has a satellite office in Dubai and a design base in India, was founded in Ringwood in 1987 and has carried out more than 200 construction projects locally, including at the RNLI, Poole, Bournemouth Airport and Bournemouth University.