Adman Civil Projects’ new emergency rescue plan has claimed top prize for innovation at the SGUK awards. We find out why it’s so important.
A pioneering approach to rescuing people from peat bogs has shown how health and safety learning can prevent workers – and the public – from getting into trouble.
Omagh-based Adman Civil Projects Ltd, a specialist civil engineering contractor, claimed first prize at the Safety Groups UK (SGUK) Awards for Innovation, in November, for its development of a peat‑and-bog land emergency rescue and drill plan. The awards recognise innovative work to raise the standards of health and safety.
The company, which operates mainly in the electrical infrastructure and renewable energy sectors, regularly works close to peat bog lands as wind turbines are often located on hills, in areas of natural beauty or close to nature walks.
The plan was developed after the senior management team identified – via risk analysis and research – the need for enhanced information, knowledge sharing and practice drills for peat bog rescue across the wind energy communities.
Peatland covers about 10% of the UK land area – nearly three million hectares – and can be anything from a few centimetres to an average maximum depth of six metres (20ft) (International Union for Conservation of Nature, 2023).
‘We always have safety exclusion zones in place within work perimeters. But the importance of expanding our knowledge and sharing it among communities and the wider industry really came to the forefront during the COVID-19 pandemic, when our site teams began to flag the presence of more members of the public out walking and climbing in these remote locations close to our works,’ says Stephanie Coyle, Adman’s safety, health, environment and quality manager.
Peatland contains fewer solids per cubic yard than milk, but ‘most of the time you’d never know by looking,’ adds Stephanie. The water is not always apparent, which can catch out the inexperienced. ‘It’s possible to sink deeply into a peat bog, and most related fatalities are caused by a combination of stress, panic, exhaustion and hypothermia, not by being sucked under,’ Stephanie says. ‘Waving your arms and legs about does not get you out – it may pull you further under.’
The judges praised the initiative as a practical response to a very real health and safety issue in the workplace, adding that the entry demonstrated innovation throughout and pointed to a lasting legacy.
As well as the innovation prize, Adman was also highly commended for the SGUK Development Through Education Award for its holistic approach to education and development, winning praise for the way it engaged workers and the wider community, including rescue services, and provided a strong model to follow.
Sonomatic RAIS claimed second place in the innovation category for its magnetic laser cleaning and inspection crawler, with judges praising its technical response to risks related to the entry of vessels for cleaning and inspection.
Craigie High School in Dundee, Scotland, was highly commended for innovation for its ‘Watch your back’ video on back injuries. The school’s project also claimed first prize in the Development Through Education category.
More information on the free-to-enter SGUK Awards can be found at safetygroupsuk.org.uk/awards. Entries for all awards opened on 1 February 2023.