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Industry case study

Jason JamesTodd Dunlop

Presented by: Jason James, director and owner of Express Construction Services Pty Ltd and Todd Dunlop, the project manager at the Grocon Parklands project, the site of the Commonwealth Games village on the Gold Coast.

Run time: 21:52

Download a copy of this podcast (MP3, 20 MB)

Presentation 12 - Industry Case Studies

Presented by: Nita Maynard, Jason James and Todd Dunlop.

Nita Maynard:

Thanks Jason for taking time out of your day. I know a builder doesn't ever have down time. So we really appreciate you coming along and sharing some of your learnings with us.

Jason James:

Thanks Nita.

Nita Maynard:

Okay, all right. Okay Jason, I know Di gave us a bit of your bio, but maybe you can tell us a bit more about your background?

Jason James:

Yeah sure Nita. I started my apprenticeship in 1991 as a Carpenter and Joiner. It was my father's building company. So I was apprenticed to his company. So I spent four years there doing renovations and those sorts of things. After that I did some subcontracting with other builders and then later on I went back to my father's company where I helped run that then more from both sides, so quoting as well as running the company. Then I decided that I'd rather go out on my own. So I got my builder's licence and started subcontracting similar to his business, mainly renovations and then later on now we're doing probably more custom homes. So yeah, that's a bit of a brief background.

Nita Maynard:

Right. So it sounds like construction is in your blood.

Jason James:

Yeah.

Nita Maynard:

It sounds like you've been around it your whole life and I'm sure a lot of people in the industry are the same way. The lifestyle, it's your whole life. It's not just your job.

Jason James:

Yeah.

Nita Maynard:

Yep, absolutely. So why safety Jason? Why is safety important to you?

Jason James:

Well I guess it started for me in the early days when I started my apprenticeship. Safety just wasn't – domestically it wasn't talked about much. We had our usual things that we'd look for but generally it wasn't something that we spoke about a lot. So, when I was 28 I ruptured a disc in my back which for me when I was sort of running a small company myself, it was really an eye opener for me. I found that I couldn't do things now and I had guys that worked for me but I still had to be on site. So it really changed my whole focus. I decided then that could do I do another job and I really love what I do. Like all jobs I have my days when I really don't want to do it, but generally I thought 'Well, I want to do this. What can I do?'

So first of all once I was able to be on site I started looking at everything differently. So first of all where we could we would use different products. Then I started to look as I got more abilities as in I could start to design different materials, I could ask for 'Can we build it this way?', 'Can we use this material?' and that's sort of how it started for me looking at safety from different ways. I think that's helped a lot with how the business has come this way now.

Nita Maynard:

Yep. So it sounds like you learned the hard way, how important safety is and I know that's unfortunately true for many people who have those injuries or whatever, but you took that experience and really made it work for you in the long run. So maybe if you can elaborate a bit more about how you make it real and that was one of our themes from this morning is how do we make it real? So from the beginning of a project to the end of a project how do you implement safety?

Jason James:

Okay. So first of all it starts like any particular job. We have a client that wants something. So once we develop the property, the house or whatever it may be, we start looking at 'Okay, well what are the key factors that might cause this job to be difficult to build?' Some cases it might be a particular air conditioning unit for example. It might be a particular style of house and even maybe where the property is situated. We also do pools so with that we would always do a pool at the beginning of the job and then work from the back of the property to the front, depending on the slopes and whatever.

So we would then work through with the designers, engineers to then ask 'Can we use this material here?' or 'this material there?' so that it also helps with weight maybe. Then if there is a particular design that's come up with that we really have to have, then we'll find ways that 'Well, that will need a crane lift' and 'That will need more care when we go to put that particular thing it may be' whatever it is. That helps right through the job because generally it actually saves money and it most definitely saves time with most projects, but each one is unique as well. So that's the key. So we start at the beginning and make it happen all the way through.

Nita Maynard:

Yep. So that sounds like a real theme for you. Getting in earlier that design and that planning phase, working out what the issues are going to be, what are we going to have to do and how are we going to achieve it, and how can we achieve it in that easy way. Yep, so getting the crane, getting the right equipment, the lightweight materials and so on. So what are the benefits Jason?

Jason James:

Well the benefits I briefly talked about is that I think from a small business point of view it's been a bit of philosophy that it always has to cost extra money. I think I've found generally if we come up with the right method we can actually save money and that's generally in time. So, have we got some slides up? This particular slide here is just a very simple dolly that I made up. The island bench, it was unknown how much it weighed, so we decided that instead of having six guys there and the time it would take for such a small job, we'd make this simple dolly up. One person could move it and we could move it the other way and then do what we had to do and then put it back. That was just one.

There's another one we did about maybe 10 years ago. We had a very particularly complex house and usually we use extension ladders to go from floor to floor. This particular job was very unique in the fact that the stairs were right in the middle of the house. So I decided that we would build temporary stairs and put them in the position so that we were able to sheet with Gyprock either side of the stairwell, but also access it and use it. Because it was three levels I found that even though we spent a bit of money making these temporary stairs we actually saved in productivity tenfold. So now with all our jobs, all the new houses we build, we always put temporary stairs in. It really helps with movement of guys. For me I have contract as well as guys that work for me, but generally productivity is a huge thing.

So, we get the safety aspect but we also from a small business, we do save and we tend to make, you know, the amount of money we save lots of times on safety is really there at the end of the day.

Nita Maynard:

Yeah, So in reality building a trolley or building the stairs, it probably didn't cost all that much money?

Jason James:

No.

Nita Maynard:

But then from what you're saying the return on that investment was quite a lot.

Jason James:

Yeah and because of the early injury, I think you just tend to look at lots of different ways, 'Could it be possible?', 'Can we do it another way?', 'We've always done it that way but could we do it another way?' and that sometimes works out better.

Nita Maynard:

Right, excellent. Okay. Moving along. All right, so how do you get your workers – I know you have about four or five people that you work with.

Jason James:

Yep.

Nita Maynard:

How do you get them involved in safety?

Jason James:

Okay. So when we've got the planning stage and I have a small core group of guys and the contractors, so what we may do is on some jobs I may physically show the guys, get them in a group, maybe on a particular job and say 'This is what I propose we're going to do. What do you guys think?' Then sometimes they'll come up with excellent ideas and sometimes maybe they won't go far enough, but then we can say 'Well, how about we do your and this idea?' and then that will really get them engaged with what we're doing and it's not just about me. So it gets them just starting to think a little bit more about safety. So that kind of helps for me and then generally we'll talk about different tasks on different jobs that we'll alert that's going to be 'Well this is different and it could be a high risk. Let's… about how can we do that?'. If we're going to do this task say, with the crane, we'll have a dogman there, but every guy on site will know where they're going to be so that if there was something to go wrong or whatever, everyone knows where they're supposed to be. Then that makes it a lot smoother as well. So planning again, planning.

Nita Maynard:

Yep. Planning and communication I think are what you're talking about?

Jason James:

Yep.

Nita Maynard:

Excellent. So, we're right at the end of our interview here. So in summary Jason, what are your top three things that you want people to remember when they go away today?

Jason James:

Okay. So I guess for me what always comes to mind is to plan the job. So planning helps with because of the individual jobs we do they're always different. We don't produce the same thing every time. So by planning that through the second thing for me is really engaging my workers with that plan and making them clear 'This is what we're going to try and to', but allow them to put the input in because I think that makes it – they own it as well. I guess at the end of the day we want it to, from a small business point of view, everyone goes home safe and you know, we make money on the job.

Nita Maynard:

Excellent. Jason I really want to thank you for sharing your learnings. Often times people talk about safety and small business don't mix, but I think Jason you're living the dream and you know, fantastic. So thank you very much.

Jason James:

Thank you.

Female:

Just before you run away Jason, just I'd like to open up if there's any questions for Jason at all?

Jason James:

Great.

Female:

Okay. So just moving through now into our second – thank you – our second case study. That will be presented by Todd Dunlop. Todd is the Project Manager at the Grocon Parklands Project, the site of the Commonwealth Games Village on the Gold Coast. Todd has a degree in Project Management, has been with Grocon for 12 months. Prior to that Todd worked for the John Holland Group for four years. Todd will be speaking today about a new system of work that decreases the risk of musculoskeletal disorders that was implemented by Grocon. Please join with me in welcoming Todd.

Todd Dunlop:

All right. Good afternoon everyone and I just want to say thank you to start with, Workplace Health and Safety for putting on this Construction Health Forum today. I think it's a great opportunity for industry professionals and peers to get together and have a real focus on managing health to improve safety on our construction sites. It also allows for industry professionals such as myself to get together and have a chat about what we are doing to reduce injuries on our sites.

So to start with my name's Todd Dunlop. I am one of the Project Managers on the Commonwealth Games Athlete's Village. It's officially known as the Parklands Project. So we are building 1,200 units over 18 buildings and also 82 town houses, roads and infrastructure – everything associated with a residential community. But one of the key things about this project, it is home to the 2018 Commonwealth Games Athlete's Village which to me personally is a great South East Queensland iconic project and something that I'm very proud to be associated with.

So today I was asked to come here today to talk about what we are doing to reduce musculoskeletal and also manual handling injuries on our site and also discuss how we've used a non-traditional retaining wall system to reduce these injuries. I'll talk more about it when I get through the slides but in summary we've used – it's essentially a plastic retaining wall system, very lightweight, install it, put in the reinforcement, pour the concrete, it's job's done. So it's very lightweight which has helped us a lot on site.

Now today, look, I know today has been a long day. I've been here since this morning and it can be a little bit death by PowerPoint, but I want to give you one key stat today from our project that hopefully will tweak your interest. We've installed 7,800 square metres of this product, or 2.5 kilometres on site without a single musculoskeletal or manual handling injury on our site. To me that says this product is definitely worth considering as an alternative to blocks, concrete or a precast wall.

Now I just want to say I don't work for Dincel. I'm not getting paid by Dincel. This is just a product that we chose to use. There's Rytec. There's four or five other products on site. We just chose to use this product.

All right, so I'll get onto the slides. This is a quick overview. We're redeveloping the Parklands Project. So it's going to be one of the most significant urban renewal projects on the Gold Coast. The master plan incorporates seven hectares of residential and retail space and also parklands and space. The remaining land will be retained by the Queensland Government and they'll decide in the future what they want to use with the land but essentially it will be complementary to what the government has called the Health and Knowledge Precinct down at Southport. So that's where Griffith Uni is, the new hospital, the public hospital, the private hospital and now this Parklands Village. So it's really an opportunity to try and get away from the Gold Coast's previous image to actually become a health and knowledge precinct. So buildings, the government might do maybe more training centres, commercial, retail – whatever they think suits the area.

This is just a little bit of corporate branding and marketing about the project. As you can see, it's in keeping with the Gold Coast theme. There's lots of bright colours but also it's a very well maintained and well planned project and hopefully it will retain those bright colours.

So the Dincel retaining wall system I was talking about, primarily first and foremost it was a safety and design initiative. Way back at the start of the project I was involved at the very start of the project. We really focused on what we can do and what we can design to reduce manual handling. We chose this product because it essentially weighs 13 kilos per panel. Almost any person can lift 13 kilos.

Program – there was also a reduction in programmed, a theoretical reduction in programme that we believed we could install it a lot faster because we contracted it to our form workers to install. So while they're installing their columns in the basement, at the same time they're installing the Dincel wall. So you don't have a crossover of trades and often on site we know when you get that confluence of too many trades in one area, that's when you start to have problems. So the form workers owned the area and they could set the pace which we thought was a really good idea.

Logistics – on site and off site traffic reduction. It all turns up in a semi, it's all packed, it's all neat and tidy. It's like a big Meccano set. Crane it off. It's nice and square and boxy. It stacks all nice on site.

Housekeeping – one of the key things is really the housekeeping here and I'm not here to talk down about the block work industry but it is a messy industry. There's offcuts, there's slurry, there's water. There's all of those things associated where this stuff you can actually premeasure. You can premeasure it, predetermine the sizes, get it cut in the factory, send it to site. So there's zero cutting on site. As long as you keep your RLs it's okay and then that flows onto waste management as well. There was very limited waste and it's a very easy product to cut on site. So if we do have to do a final trim of 20mm or whatever, you can just cut it off very easily. It goes into the bin. Zero issues.

So this is just an image to show comparison. We all know about block work. It's repetitive, it's heavy, it's hard. It's this bend, twist, bend, twist, lift, bend, twist, lift. There's also the other issues we found with block work. It was a messy trade as I said. There's a lot of offcuts. You've got the machines on site. All of these things that we've eliminated from site. Temporary form work. That's another one. We know that's a high risk activity as well. You've got the problems with formwork collapse, design, you need cranes to lift it all into place and that finally leads onto precast which in my opinion is one of the highest risk activities that we do on site. So we've eliminated doing that on site by using this product.

This is just some very simple photos about how it goes together. So each of those panels are roughly – well not roughly, they are 333mm wide. They clip together. They've got a little tongue and groove system that goes like that, slides down just like a big Meccano set. As I said 13 kilos. A single man installs it from the ground. There's no working at height issues. It gets installed, he keeps on going. He can do roughly 20 or 30 lineal metres a day for two men.

This is what it looks like when it's installed. We put the whaler across there with some props, very lightweight props. Those props are just to hold it in place until it gets poured with concrete. The next step is the reinforcement guys come along in the EWP, drop in the reinforcement and then the concreter comes along, pumps it in and away we go.

Just with this one here, look it just shows you. As I said before we've installed 7,800 square metres of this product and not a single injury related to musculoskeletal or manual handling. To me you know, that's an outstanding success. I don't think installing that much of block work or of in-situ concrete or of precast would have resulted in zero manual handling injuries.

So, just some other benefits of the product. Falling person – so as I said, we didn't need the scaffolds, the brickie scaffolds or whatever scaffold's in place. So we reduce those potential injuries. Falling objects – everything's installed from the ground. So there's no chance of anyone hurting themselves and the key thing there was we separated the site. We allowed the form workers to own the area. So there was only form workers in that area. You don't get that crossover and those who work in the industry know, as soon as you get one, two, three, four trades in an area, that's when you get injuries because everyone's focused on their own work and they're not worried about anyone else.

Moving mobile plant was addressed as well because it was just you walk in, drop it in, walk out, get another piece, do the same again. Housekeeping was kept to a minimum because the offcuts were very lightweight, throw them in the bin and then that leads again onto wastage. Housekeeping and wastage are pretty much the same to me.

The limitations – like all products there is limitations. We had problems where we had double height basements. So this product was designed to be stacked on top of each other and some real challenges where we had to install two layers of this product, try and install rebar to connect it all. So there was some real challenges there that had we had our time over again we could probably plan out a little bit better. Then also the core filling issues. Initially we had it as a 20mm concrete agg. That went down to a 10mm because the problem with this product, the flanges are so narrow that you couldn't actually get the hose or the pump down there. So you had to install it from the top and that caused – there was swaying issues and if we put the hose down the middle it would break all the flanges. So we ended up going to a super flow 10mm mix which allowed us to have a smaller hose that could slot down the holes a lot easier but it was repetitive work. Every second or third flange you had to lift it up, drop it, lift it up, drop it. So it's not perfect and there are limitations but essentially in my opinion this far outweighed using block work, concrete or a precast system purely because it was so lightweight.

From a dollar perspective it was pretty much lineball with block work. Block work is still surprisingly cheap to get men to install blocks but we chose this product because we honestly believe it was going to be safer and I think it's proved that it is far superior from a safety perspective than any other retaining wall system.

So that's it guys.

The End