Aberystwyth Technium-based software developer SmartData has devised a potentially life-saving software package which could dramatically improve the safety of construction and maintenance workers who risk their lives by working at height.
Called NetLog, SmartData’s software solution is designed to help companies deploy, track and schedule inspections of safety nets to ensure they remain fully operational and safe at all times.
According to the latest figures from the UK Health & Safety Executive (HSE), there have been over 43,000 industrial injuries involving falls from height in the last five years - fuelling speculation in the construction industry that many of the resultant injuries are due to poorly maintained or defective safety equipment.
The HSE’s ‘Work at Height’ regulations came into force in April 2005 and state that all work at height should be properly planned and organised, with appropriate safety equipment selected and used to prevent fatalities and serious accidents. However, according to SmartData UK, the industry is still not being tough enough with safety checks on their equipment and this is putting lives at risk.
“Working at height carries the risk of a potentially fatal injury unless it is safely managed,” said Gareth Hopkins, marketing manager of SmartData UK. “There have been 264 fatalities in the last five years from employees falling from height, which is 264 too many. You can have the latest, most robust, state-of-the-art equipment on the market, but if you don’t schedule regular maintenance and safety checks on all nets, you are leaving yourself open to accidents, which can have potentially devastating consequences for your staff and your business.”
The HSE regards nets as its ‘preferred method of fall arrest when working at height’
Unlike harnesses and lanyards, nets allow workers to move freely and provide collective protection for all work and transportation in a secured area. SmartData UK has worked closely with a number of successful safety net service companies to produce a software solution that is easy to manage and install, with five customers now implementing NetLog nationwide.
One such user is Safety Net Services , who have worked on major construction projects since 1998. They have provided safety netting, equipment and services to clients such as Arsenal Football Club’s new Emirates Stadium, Canary Warf in London, Leeds General Station and the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
Safety Net Services uses NetLog to keep track of over 3,500 nets at any one time and also produce comprehensive reports for the nets used on each contract. Safety Net Services believe this capability not only enables them to meet their statutory requirements, it also gives them a competitive advantage. It means they can manage their business more efficiently and this in turn gives them a more professional presence in front of clients.
''NetLog manages a rigorous maintenance routine that is proving a great success"
Said John Walsh, managing director of Safety Net Services. "In fact, it is capable of many more functions than even we imagined at the outset, saving us considerable time and money.''
NetLog can be downloaded and run for a 30-day trial period, meaning interested businesses can fully test its applicability to their business before making any financial commitment. The product is available at www.hirelog.co.uk.
“We are delighted to offer this product as an online solution as part of our Hirelog brand,” continued Gareth Hopkins. “It marks a major change in how we can deliver products to market, enabling us to address a far wider market than was previously possible with a traditional sales and distribution model. The more people we can reach, the more lives we can potentially save.”
SmartData UK is part of the Wales-wide Technium initiative
Technium is a network of 10 innovation centres providing facilities and support to nurture the growth of emerging high-tech companies.
SmartData UK is located at Y Lanfa in Aberystwyth and focuses on helping clients realise opportunities and solve problems in their business processes by developing and implementing cost effective, innovative and agile software.
Technium is a partnership between the Welsh Assembly Government and higher and further education institutions in Wales, and is supported by European Union Objective 1 funding. The initiative currently supports 108 companies across the 10 Technium centres and is expected to have generated in the order of 2000 direct and indirect employment opportunities within the Welsh economy by the end of 2008, representing an economic benefit to the Welsh economy of approximately £135m.