Why ‘where’s the paperwork for that?’ is a question Ken Carter seldom hears now
When you hold the unofficial role of company elder...
When you hold the unofficial role of company elder, like Flexem Constructions’ Systems and Compliance Manager Ken Carter, there are around 1000 questions to answer almost every day - so the last query you need to be resolving is one about where someone’s paperwork might be.
Having switched to HammerTech for processes including personnel inductions, safe work method statements and equipment inductions means Ken spends far less time wrangling paper, and has more time overseeing the safety of the company’s widely dispersed construction crews.
“I have seen hundreds of incidents and issues across the industry.”
Ken started with Flexem after close to two decades as a compliance and quality consultant, so he has an eagle eye for making sure all the right boxes are ticked.
And he’s seen a “seismic shift” in the industry over recent years. For one, safety in design is “now a thing”, he explains. “It used to be just whatever passed [regulatory requirements] was good enough. It’s a totally different world now.”
There is also a much stronger focus on resource saving, and a much more systemized approach to compliance, quality and safety.
His extensive experience means from the minute he walks in the office door or onsite, there are “1000 questions” from everyone because he has “seen and done everything” in the building game. HammerTech helps him stay on top of everything and make sure questions get answered.
Being everywhere, all the time, across everything
Ken says the HammerTech platform is giving him an added level of management that enables him to keep a close eye on things much more easily. Where previously he may have had to track down a foreman to get signed photos as part of inductions, now they can be scanned and uploaded off-site.
Subcontractors upload all their essential documentation including insurances and Safe Work Method Statements to the platform ahead of going to the site, dramatically reducing the amount of physical paperwork needing to be collected, checked and filed. Nothing gets lost, and follow-up on any missing pieces of information is far more efficient.
The system also ensures subcontractors do what is required, because if all the right information has not been completed and lodged, they simply will not be starting work. It is a matter of moments for Ken to check, wherever he might be.
The cloud has eased his physical burdens (literally)
Pre-digital it was necessary to prepare WHS management plans and SWMS for each task being performed on each site, in addition to the on-site hazard inspections, induction forms, toolbox paperwork, registers and weekly inspection forms, Ken could be managing a bundle of up to 350 pages worth of paper for a site.
Now most of that is safely stored in the cloud, and he has complete transparency without lugging the bundle of folders around. “It captures site management at a distance, and I can access it from a desktop computer, laptop computer or other device,” Ken says.
The site teams are equipped with a tablet, stylus, printer and Wi-Fi dongle to facilitate use of the platform. They can also check any important emails that have come from the HammerTech system on smartphones.
There is a massive time saving.
Instead of general inductions taking 30-40 minutes on site, they are completed offsite ahead of work commencing. That means the specific site induction only takes a very short time.
The company also uses quite a significant number of its subcontractors repeatedly across regional projects such as retail fit outs for major chains. The information stored in the HammerTech system can be transferred straight across to the new project, and general inductions, once completed, are current for 12 months and do not require re-doing for each project within that period.
There is an advantage for the subcontractors also, as they do not need to carry folders of documents such as Safe Work Method Statements with them between projects.
‘We take weeks, where others might take months,” Ken says.
The consistent time saving aspect is a major plus, particularly as the company takes pride in its ability to complete a scope of works quickly.
Company policies and procedures that he formerly had to store on site, and then send to auditors or other bodies as a disc or on a thumb drive are now stored and shared through HammerTech.
The HammerTech system also makes everything more trackable as far as receiving SWMS, tracking inductions, permits, and equipment. Ken does on site audits regularly to ensure things are always “safer than usual” and to have a site presence but having the SWMS and other key documents accessible digitally means he can also review them more often without having to go on site or in between site visits.
Tech for the non-techie
Ken says HammerTech has proven easy and simple to use, especially for workers that are “low tech”. “They take to it like a duck to water once they realise how easy it is.” Ken managed the initial implementation over four weeks and continues to be on-call to help if someone has an issue with the platform.
“The more people use it, the easier it gets.” Some of his senior site staff had not actually used tablets before, but became proficient with them quickly. Ken also has HammerTech’s own support team available at all times if he comes across any difficulties with uploading or for help with customising specific features or applications to suit company processes or projects.
Always looking ahead
Just as safety is all about thinking ahead to prevent problems, Ken is continually thinking ahead in terms of new ways HammerTech can benefit the company. He is looking to build in different types of inspections that can be managed via the platform, for example.
He is also keen to see how it can help him develop a rating system for subcontractors, something that could be beneficial for selecting subcontractors for new projects. Already he is seeing how having the digital reporting and oversight is giving him insights into subcontractor performance much earlier in a project program.
He is also looking to set up digital registers within the platform for specifics like electricals, fire extinguishers and other equipment inductions that currently need to be managed using paper. Timesheets may also soon be replaced with a billing system within the platform, and he wants to expand usage into quality inspections and defects reporting and resolution.
All in all, Ken feels “a few things that could go wrong, can’t go wrong anymore.” And he’s glad HammerTech is helping him make a difference for his company.