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Taking the harm out of hazards

Identifying potential hazards and then effectively mitigating the risks is an essential part of the development of any major infrastructure scheme. Yet tracking hazards and developing an effective workflow that will provide the engineering and safety management evidence required by the client can prove challenging.

That’s partly because of the sheer number of people typically involved. Engineering Safety Managers (ESMs) often use spreadsheets to keep track of progress but this is not without risk. For large schemes collaboration between staff is essential to maintain records but it can be difficult to maintain an audit trail where multiple users in different locations are sharing a spreadsheet. Important information can easily be lost with a single user’s update.

With thousands of requirements for a typical project, there is a potential for hazards to get overlooked unless a systematic approach is put in place. An ESM System Safety Plan was therefore created and agreed by the Infrastructure Managers (IMs) with the overall responsibility to demonstrate on a project for Crossrail that the operation of the railway is carried out where the safety risks and deliverables to future users are As Low as Reasonably Practicable (ALARP).

Comply Serve has devised a hazard management system which allows contractors to complete essential documentation as a project advances while giving the client an overview of progress and any issues that require attention.

“We provide a collaborative, easy to use, web-based system which joins up everybody across the project organisation - from the programme director through to the second tier supplier,” explained Comply Serve founder Chris Rolison.

The ultimate test of the system to date has been on the £14.8bn Crossrail programme to build a new railway across London. Comply Serve has been involved with the project since 2006 and the company’s flagship ComplyPro software has played a significant role in managing identified hazards.

Crossrail awarded numerous framework design contracts to consultants who were faced with the Crossrail Programme Functional Requirements (CPFR) document containing 1,358 high level requirements. As work advanced these would evolve and spawn hundreds of interdependent requirements all of which needed to be assessed for any potential hazard.

To begin with, design consultants used spreadsheets to create hazard logs but the scale and growing complexity of the Crossrail programme led to a search for a better solution. Maintaining an overview of so many project teams was becoming increasing difficult but by using Comply Serve’s ComplyPro solution to create a central Project Wide Hazard Record (PWHR), it became easier for the client to keep tabs on progress. Information from the database was presented in a dashboard offering a colour coded at-a-glance progress report that could be discussed at meetings.

ComplyPro reduced the risk of crucial information getting lost by staff overwriting spreadsheet entries or deleting emails necessary to complete hazard records. The module is designed to allow collaboration between multiple teams but also maintains a single ‘source of truth’ consisting of the most up to date information. Using a single system encourages users to document hazards in a consistent way. By storing Project Wide Hazard Record data in the cloud any authorised user can access the system wherever they are.

Comply Serve managing director, Steve Tosh said, “A major advantage of the solution is that it is delivered via the internet meaning that clients do not have to install and maintain additional software and the solution can be accessed almost anywhere in the world 24/7, 365 days a year. This enables easy collaboration right across the supply chain, and delivers a more consistent and reliable view of related information, from a single, always up to date, database source.”

Comply Serve hosts all data remotely. Users access the system via a familiar web-based interface, which minimises training requirements. ComplyPro links-in with other Crossrail technology, such as its document management system, so data can be shared quickly with the information recorded on the PWHR database.

Using ComplyPro for hazard reporting has made it possible to neatly side-step the problem of different companies having their own different systems and ways of working. Because there’s no need to install software on the user’s computer, providing access as and when another organisation became part of the supply chain proved straightforward. By purchasing licences according to the number of users needing access, Crossrail has been able to scale the solution to meet its requirements.

With elements of the programme constantly being refined, the ability of ComplyPro to log and display through dashboards the implications of any design changes following an evaluation of hazards has proved invaluable. The high level view can provide transparency as to what other elements and mitigation issues that might exist and the impact of these and allow them to be avoided if at all possible.

“This can reduce the assessment of the impact of change from weeks to hours, in concert with more accurate cost assessments,” added Rolison.

The module allows all identified hazards to be documented so that a future Crossrail operator and IMs are presented with evidence to support the Safety Justifications needed to develop safe operating controls and procedures. In the future it will be possible to look back and find out the reasoning behind a measure designed to mitigate a particular hazard even if those who designed the railway have long since moved on.

As work continues on Crossrail the experience gained will inevitably inform future infrastructure projects. “We have worked hard to consider how the railway will be operated once built, taking into account all functionality that was agreed, right down to the systems now being put in place,” said head of sales, Alan Moon. “This common sense approach takes the smoke and mirrors away from integrating hazard and safety management and I’m sure it will change how future world class projects like Crossrail are managed.”

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