Professional Builder speaks to the builder behind a software launch aiming to streamline health and safety paperwork.
Even the smallest of jobs these days has to be backed up with a level of paperwork that a few years ago would have been unthinkable. Fortunately, technology is currently on the rampage across the width and breadth of the working world, taking the human effort out of many long-winded processes, eliminating waste by creating a ‘paperless’ planet and providing businesses with the chance to make huge productivity gains literally at the touch of a button.
Thanks to builder Jason Strong, that level of efficiency is now something builders can benefit from too, specifically in the daunting and legally fraught realm of health and safety legislation.
Software development is far from Jason’s skillbase, having started out as a general builder along with a friend 28 years ago. Now running his own company with 20 employees, his decision to launch himself into the costly process of developing Ohutu a year and a half ago, might have struck some of his friends and family as an odd way to spend some hard-earned cash.
But Jason’s software could have very real implications in the construction sector. Taking the hassle out of health and safety documentation, Ohutu provides it all for the user and covers every base that needs to covered.
So often a synonym for needless bureaucracy on small sites in the UK, where horror stories of the HSE abound, health and safety is in dire need of a PR makeover. As Jason says, “Not coming from an academic background, the vast majority of builders like me shrink away immediately upon mention of those letters. Unfortunately, all you hear are the things that have gone wrong – jobs getting shut down and even people being prosecuted. You face a barrage of abbreviations and jargon, CDM, risk assessment etc. I’ll be honest, it’s hard.”
Ohutu automatically generates all of the paperwork you need, branded to your company and specific to that exact project. Everything from the Construction Phase Plan required for CDM 2015, to the relevant RAMS, site set up checklist, display documents and more.
“I noticed I would get the same paperwork sent through from the HSE every time I went on to a new job. Every time I would receive a folder of papers with no explanation offered as to what anything actually meant, and I was never any the wiser with or without the paperwork. 14 months ago I had just come off one job and received the paperwork for the next one. I remember sitting there looking through it and realising it was exactly the same as the old one. That’s when I thought to myself, surely there is an app or some software that can sort this out?”
After searching high and low for a solution that was adept for more than just the smallest of jobs, Jason decided he would have to take matters into his own hands. “I wanted to create a piece of software and a phone app for builders just like myself, who currently are flying under the radar of regulation rather than comply and actively engage with it. People don’t realise that the HSE wants to help, and that actually the regulations and procedures will make your sites safer places to work.”
The software is designed to make life as easy as possible for the contractor. For instance, Jason outlines how the software remembers your details as you go: “When you use it for the first time, you upload your company logo and insurance documents and other permanent details and it stores them. When you start a new job and load up new forms, the software recalls your details from before. The same goes for contact details for architects.” The smartphone app has another handy feature – a regular site inspection questionnaire that reminds you to complete your necessary safety and security checks. This is something that Jason feels will be of huge importance to the app’s users, prompting them to run safer sites whilst also protecting them in the event of an accident.