Innovative lorry safety checks at the McGee Construction Company

As part of its partnership work with TfL and the Construction Logistics and Community Safety community LCC is looking at some of the innovative approaches to reducing road danger and improving safety implemented by CLOCS members. Run out of Wembley, construction firm McGee is pioneering digital safety checks. 

Visual vehicle inspections

Every lorry driver at the McGee construction company is a part time photographer. Each morning drivers take out their phone or tablet and go around their vehicle scanning electronic tags at specified locations, using NFC (near field communication) and uploading photos of any defects immediately.  

The reason for the task is simple – McGee, a CLOCS champion since the start of the programme,  requires that regular safety checks are carried out by a genuine visual inspection and not by ticking a box while sitting in the lorry cab. John McGee, a director of the family run firm, has no doubts that the visual checks are essential to ensure compliance.

“The driver would (in the past) get in the cab and tick boxes – and that’s not acceptable. So with the use of NFC we designed an inspection where the driver has to physically walk around the vehicle – he has to scan three tags which prompt him to answer questions regarding the state of the vehicle. And if there is any issue it is flagged up to the maintenance manager.”

The scans and photographs taken by drivers reach their managers as soon as they are taken so any fault, like a broken wing mirror, is addressed immediately. If the fault means that the vehicle has to stay at base for repairs then it doesn’t go out on the road.  Managers have a regular update on which vehicles have been fully inspected and what defects, if any, have been reported.

Driver records and training

The company also keeps a full record of every driver’s training record. The spreadsheet, kept by managers, includes updatable data on training modules completed, inductions completed and other details.  All drivers have to complete the Safer Urban Driving module and all have monthly, or more frequent, updates on safety. For each specific projects driver’s also get a briefing on  the route to be taken, locations where there maybe be hazards or vulnerable road users and access details.

Leicester Square Hotel

At its giant and complex Leicester Square hotel project (located within yards of the main square) McGee has extended its use of technology to include constant live views of the site and GPS on all vehicles to ensure the most efficient routing and to minimise vehicle movements. If, for example, roads are too congested vehicles may be re-routed to other sites or kept at a landfill site until routes are clear.

Ban Incentivisation

John McGee identifies the method of rewarding drivers as a key issue in maintaining a good safety record. All McGee drivers are paid a fixed amount regardless of how many journeys they complete in a day or how quickly they make them. This is in sharp contrast to payment schemes which give drivers bonuses for additional journeys made during a day’s work over and above a set minimum target. McGee rejects such schemes because they incentivise drivers to drive more quickly and take greater risks.

Innovation

Perhaps unusually for a CLOCS champion McGee sponsors research into road safety.  In a project at Nottingham Trent University it has rewarded work on a new indicator, aimed at cycle users, to give a very visible warning of a lorry turning left. Distinctive flags, not unlike the pop-out orange indictors on Morris Minors of old, but far bigger, alert riders of the vehicle’s intention to turn. A complementary idea was an LED strip of lighting to indicate turning movements. Another interesting project, which is being considered by industry, is a ‘bubble’ wheel-guard for front wheels on lorries to minimise injury in the case of a collision.