Ten inventions that will transform construction sites get the go-ahead from Berkeley

8th October 2015

Press Release, Berkeley Innovation Fund
  • First ten awards of £2m Innovation Fund announced
  • Many of the products will be tested within months on Berkeley sites


A device to prevent back injuries, designed by a former soldier collaborating with a Harley Street spinal clinic, and a revolutionary detector of hand arm vibrations that currently affect 300,000 workers across the UK, are among the first wave of innovations awarded funding today.

Berkeley unveiled a new £2m fund in January with the aim of radically improving safety and wellbeing across the construction industry.

After more than 50 initial submissions, over £1million has been awarded to the first ten pioneering ideas. They will go from drawing board to building site within months.
Rob Perrins, Managing Director of the Berkeley Group, said: "I have been really struck by the quality of ideas and how the industry has engaged with the Fund. The breadth of thought and ingenuity has been a real eye opener. We have had bids from contractors, academics, individuals and industry bodies. Construction is one of the biggest employers in Britain. I feel very strongly that we all have a common interest in making it a safer and healthier place to work." 

The £2m fund is today described as "transformational" by the Chief Executive of Constructing Better Health, Michelle Aldous.

Talking about their award for an online portal, she said: "Health & Safety is a matter of life and death but traditional avenues for funding new ideas have dried up, so support like this from Berkeley is completely transformational."

Since launch, the Innovation Fund has received over 60 expressions of interests, of which 34 progressed to the next stage. The chosen ten went through a rigorous selection process involving face-to-face interviews and presenting the idea to a cross-industry panel.  Once developed, many of the products will be tested on Berkeley sites.

The ten projects which will receive grants of between £10k and £250k are:

  • A spinal device that can be fitted to high visibility jackets to minimise back injuries. This has been designed by a former soldier collaborating with a leading Harley Street spinal clinic.
  • An intelligent collision avoidance system that can prevent common incidents occurring with large vehicles and pedestrians.
  • A novel approach to detect Hand Arm Vibrations (HAVs), known in the construction industry as the 'hidden killer'. HAVs harm 300,000 workers across the UK at present and led to 60,000 claims for damages in 2013 alone.
  • A national 24/7 helpline specifically aimed at SMEs to help them report near misses and share good practice. This will be run by the Lighthouse Charity Club.
  •  A joint initiative with the Road Haulage Association (RHA) to reduce the number of on-site traffic incidents, through the development of a Code of Practice and an approved drivers training course.
  • A dust extractor, which catches loose particles - a product that could transform the way carpenters work and reduce exposure to harmful wood dust. 
  • An online portal to provide small construction businesses with free online access to occupational health provision. The hub is the brainchild of Constructing Better Health.
  • Research led by Glasgow Caledonian University to examine how workers and management communicate on site and develop better models for engagement.
  • A revolutionary product that allows cables to be supported to a ceiling, preventing individuals tripping over trailing cables during the later stage construction.
  • The development of a safety inspection device for scaffolds and temporary works. It offers a new intuitive  approach to inspections on site, reducing the paperwork and the scope for human error.

Further applications for suitable innovations are welcomed until April 2016. For more information visit www.berkeleyinnovationfund.co.uk or email army.khaira@berkeleygroup.co.uk.

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Berkeley Group is the only private company in Britain providing grants targeted at improving health and safety standards in the construction industry.  The Fund is part of Berkeley's ambition to operate incident and injury free, and have a positive health impact on all the people employed and affected by the company.
  2. Details of some of the successful applications being awarded funding by the Berkeley Group's Innovation Fund are:
    1. Builders Back- SMB Brickwork
    2. NHS Hubs - Constructing Better Health
    3. Dust Extractor - PMJ Construction
    4. 'Improving Safety', developing a worker engagement maturity model -  The Centre for Built Environment Asset Management
    5. Construction Industry Safety Improvement Programme - Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity
    6. Code of Practice - Road Haulage Association
  3. Interviews with Barry Oliver, Berkeley's Group Health & Safety Executive, are available on 01932 584629.
  4. The Berkeley Group builds homes and neighbourhoods.  It is publicly-owned and listed on the London Stock Exchange as a FTSE 100 company. In 2014, the Berkeley Group supported 21,000 jobs in the UK and contributed £1.4 billion to Britain's GDP.

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