Construction hazards can be reduced by 20% according to new report

Stewart Dalgarno, innovation and sustainability director at Stewart Milne Group

Stewart Milne Group director leads health and safety study as part of £6.5 million research project

A new report has shown how health and safety hazard exposure on construction sites can be reduced by 20% when using crane erected panelised, modern methods of construction (MMC). 

The Health and Safety Risk Profiling of MMC Solutions research was carried out as part of the Advanced Industrialised Methods of Construction of Homes’ (AIMCH) £6.5m, three-year research and development project to transform housebuilding to meet net-zero carbon targets.

Led by Stewart Dalgarno, innovation and sustainability director at Stewart Milne Group, and project director at AIMCH, the study explored the safest way to construct new homes using either masonry or open panel timber frame built with a forklift, or more advanced panelised MMC using a crane, with the latter producing more desirable results for industry.

Crane erected panelised MMC systems are an innovative approach to building homes that increase premanufactured value, by utilising more pre-manufactured elements such as pre-fitted windows, prefabricated finished floors and pre-insulated closed walls.

The research from AIMCH aims to address the challenges of skills shortages and ageing workforce through industrialised solutions to maximise efficiency in a safe environment.

Leading independent housebuilder, Stewart Milne Group, has always adopted health and safety conscious panelised MMC methods of construction based on previous and ongoing research.

Stewart Dalgarno said: “Health and safety is a top priority, we have spent the last eight years rolling out a cultural, behavioural programme, known as Choose Safe, to encourage employees and sub-contractors, to work in a way that dramatically reduces risk for colleagues”.

“The AIMCH report, crane erect trials we have completed and the move towards more prefabricated panelised MMC methods in the future, linked to our choose-safe programme, ensures Stewart Milne Group is maximising safety for all our employees and sub-contractors, while producing high-quality homes for people to live in”

Health and safety risks such as falls from height, slips, and trips, moving and handling loads, lifting operations and more, were all explored during the AIMCH study.

The research identified increased health and safety risk exposure to many hazards, when using conventional forklift masonry and open panel timber frame methods, compared to crane erect advanced panelised MMC systems, trialled during the project. Using crane erect methods reduces exposure by 20%, by eliminating or displacing work activities to the factory environment, and off the construction site.

The report also analysed risk in the factory for the pre-manufactured elements that would otherwise be constructed on site when using conventional methods. The research emphasised the importance of suppliers investing in factory techniques such as mechanical handling, automation, and robotic applications to remove manual working hazards.

Stewart added: “This is the first study to compare the health and safety risk exposure of both construction methods and it is gratifying to see that the crane-erect panelised MMC methods championed by AIMCH reduce safety risks and hazard exposure by 20% on site, where the injury rate per 100,000 workers is 42% higher than in manufacturing, and where 50% of deaths are attributed to falls from height, compared with 16% in manufacturing.

These findings contribute to previous research carried out by AIMCH, which demonstrates how using crane erect panelised MMC systems would result in an increase in high quality, cost effective, time-efficient builds that also lower carbon footprint.

AIMCH was established to find industry-wide solutions that tackle the challenges faced by the sector in delivering tens of thousands of new and sustainable homes across the UK at pace and is a collaboration between Stewart Milne Group, Barratt Developments PLC, L&Q, the Manufacturing Technology Centre, the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre, and Forster Roofing Services Ltd.

To find out more detailing findings about the Health and Safety Risk Profiling of MMC Solutions report, including methodology, visit

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