Water threatened the integrity of one of the UK’s most important motorways – now hydrodemolition is playing a vital role in its renewal
It is a question many motorists must have asked: why are there tents on a motorway?
The blue mesh and scaffolding structures have been ever-present on the M5 in Oldbury for two years, during a £100m+ project to repair one of the UK’s longest motorway viaducts.
They contain the thousands of shards of concrete sliced from the structure during hydrodemolition operations which generate water jets that travel at speeds of up to 1,000 miles per hour.
The project to renew the 3.5km stretch of elevated motorway between Junctions 1 and 2 of the M5, is being carried out by a joint venture involving BAM Nuttall, Morgan Sindall, and VolkerFitzpatrick (BMV JV).
It is overseeing the concrete repairs on the carriageway deck and significant other modifications to the viaduct structure, which opened in 1970, and now carries 120,000 vehicles a day.
Sabre Jetting Services are working on the project on behalf of asset maintenance and repair specialists CRL and VolkerLaser.
“We work on a lot of motorways,” says Sabre Jetting Managing Director David Malin. “But this is the most complex and intensive hydrodemolition programme we’ve been involved with in 29 years of operations.”
The insidious effect of water, combined with salt spreading and the pounding impact of ever-heavier vehicles, has had the most impact on the viaduct.
It is apt, then, that hydrodemolition is playing a pivotal role in restoring the structure to an as-new condition.
Between four and 10 hydro-demolition teams – usually made up of two personnel – have been deployed at any one time.
A key task has been the removal of degraded concrete from around more than 320 joints between deck sections that make up both carriageways.
Once the water jetting is done, the cuts are finished with mechanical chisels. Corroded reinforcement is replaced, and damaged reinforcement welded. Then, fresh concrete can be poured.
It is a process that, typically, should take six days per joint, a speed made possible by good teamwork between contractors, and a key advantage of hydrodemolition.
Work began on the concrete repair project in April 2017. The southbound carriageway was repaired first, with a contraflow system set up on the northbound carriageway.
In September 2018, work switched to the northbound carriageway. Project works on top of the viaduct are forecast to finish in autumn 2019.
The volume of individual repairs has been significant. On the southbound carriageway, more than 6,000 repairs were carried out, considerably more than anticipated.
With concrete repairs completed, three specialist layers of sprayed material are being added to seal and waterproof the deck, ready for it to be resurfaced with asphalt.
Potable water needed for hydrodemolition has been supplied via a complex four-inch pipe network on the viaduct deck. Each individual hydrodemolition team needs 2.5 cubic metres of water an hour to be kept busy.
Europe’s largest scaffold scheme, erected under the viaduct, supports another network of pipes that drains wastewater into mobile filtration and settlement tanks (Siltbuster HD Units) provided by Sabre Jetting Services.
These capture sediments from the hydrodemolition activity and bubble CO2 through the water to achieve a PH level approved by the Environment Agency.
The process has allowed the filtered wastewater to be discharged into a river and canal that run beneath the motorway, instead of being tankered to an authorised disposal site, saving considerable time and money.
As well as being faster, hydrodemolition is generally healthier and safer than other forms of demolition as it eliminates the risk of vibration and associated injuries.
The jetting water also contains waste particulates, reducing dust pollution. This has particular importance with traffic passing by just feet away, and thousands of homes and businesses lining the route.
Sabre Jetting Services have been using hand-held water jetting lances, an approach that is proving well-suited to the project.
David Malin says: “Hand-held water jetting is quick to set up, breakdown and relocate, and takes up minimal space, so we can react rapidly to changing requirements, both between and during work shifts.
“With the large number of small concrete repairs, we’ve been having to work on, it has allowed us to deliver maximum productivity.”
The worksite might be over 3km, but it is barely 15 metres wide on each carriageway. It has meant control of access and vehicle movements have been key elements of BMV JV’s health and safety strategy whilst maintaining productivity and outputs.
This has made meticulous planning and a responsive approach to the needs of other construction interfaces essential to keep up with a “relentless” work schedule, says David Malin.
Working for two years through weather extremes, from sub-zero winters to the summer 2018 heatwave, on an exposed, elevated deck has also been a significant challenge for all contractors.
The jetting operatives work in an enclosed space, wearing heavy protective Kevlar clothing, controlling equipment that exerts significant force on them.
The wellbeing of the teams has been fully-considered throughout the project, with regular breaks, plenty of hydration and careful monitoring of health and safety implemented.
The viaduct is also getting an updated carriageway drainage system, an additional measure that should give the concrete deck better protection and a prolonged life.
David Malin says: “I’m certain hydrodemolition using high-pressure water jetting will have a role to play on the viaduct in the future. But road users will be glad to know that it won’t be on this scale again for many years to come.”
Setting hydrodemolition standards
Sabre Jetting Services are members of the Water Jetting Association (WJA), the industry body that represents water jetting contractors, manufacturers and training providers.
The WJA upholds standards with two codes of practice – the Blue Code for use of high-pressure and ultra-high-pressure water jetting equipment and the Red Code, for water jetting in drains and sewers.
It is also the UK’s largest water jetting training provider. City & Guilds-accredited courses are delivered by registered training providers and approved instructors. WJA: www.waterjetting.org.uk
Sabre Jetting Services Ltd are delighted to have been awarded Investors in People Silver following an intensive assessment day. Assessor John Jones visited our premises on 27th March to speak with the company directors and interview employees from every department of the organisation. As a result of the information he gathered that day, John was able to recommend that the company be awarded the Silver Standard for Investors in People. This result shows a clear progression by the company following our Bronze award achieved in 2014.
The assessment day was just the final part of an exhaustive process to determine the companies standing across three key principles, Leading, Supporting and Improving, each with three sub categories called indicators. The first step of the process was for employees to carry out an anonymous online assessment. The purpose of the assessment was to give an initial rating for the company against the nine indicators based on employee opinions. The results from the assessment meant that the business scored well above the industry average across all of the nine indicators with an average score of six out of seven achieved.
The next step of the process was to produce evidence against the nine indicators to demonstrate what measures are in place in order for the company to lead, support and improve. This included items such as the company strategy and objectives, information on the driver behaviour programme, management and Team Leader meeting minutes, monthly newsletters and details of our Hero of the Month award. All the evidence prepared was provided to our assessor in a pre-assessment pack so that he could use the information within his interviews. This enabled him to ensure our business processes were embedded within the organisation.
Sabre Jetting Principle 1: Leading
The three indicators for this principle are, Leading and Inspiring People, Living the Organisations Values and Behaviours, and, Empowering and Involving People. In order to demonstrate that we had established business processes in place for each indicator, we were able to provide evidence of regular meetings, daily communications including a company WhatsApp group, monthly toolbox talks and bi-annual business briefings. Our assessor felt there was ‘a clear sense that people, irrespective of their roles, feel that they are part of a two way communication process and have a voice in the life of the organisation.’ It was also noted that there is a ‘common consensus that their equipment, PPE and operational procedures is far superior to rival operators.’
John also took the opportunity to attend one of our quarterly Team Leader meetings and he came away noting that ‘a sense of empowerment was palpable in the questions raised and the solutions offered.’
Sabre Jetting Principle 2: Supporting
The three indicators in this principle are, Managing Performance, Recognising and Rewarding People, and, Structuring Work. These are obviously three key indicators to ensuring a motivated workforce. Procedures are put in place to aid our site based teams in their roles and this was clearly noted by one employee, working on a major site with two of our competitors, who commented during his interview ‘our procedures for vehicle and equipment storage and maintenance had a massive pay-off for the company during the recent big freeze, it meant we were able to keep working when others were frozen off.’
We were delighted with Johns comment that our staff felt ‘a sense of being valued and a loyalty to colleagues, managers and the company as a whole.’ John also highlighted how ‘the decision to invest in new premises, with an open plan layout for the main offices, exceptional consideration to operative and technicians welfare facilities, development of dedicated training facilities and a safe ‘test-bed’ lab-room, was based on a strategic decision to encourage collaborative working.’
Sabre Jetting Principle 3: Improving
The three indicators for this principle are, Building Capability, Delivering Continuous Improvement, and, Creating Sustainable Success. As a business we are constantly looking to improve, which is why we hold quarterly Team Leader meetings, in order to get feedback from the guys on the front line. It is also why we put a lot of effort into the training of the operators, and developing people from the moment they enter the company. Our assessor noted that ‘Apprenticeships are utilised and the organisation has a track record of developing apprentices into key workers and future managers.’
One thing we certainly pride ourselves on is the quality of our equipment, so it was great that John commented that ‘The organisation and the MD in particular has a track record of design and improvement in many technical aspects of water jetting equipment and protective wear.’ This includes development of a water jetting mask tested to EN166-B, modifications to guns to make them more user friendly and the commissioning of the Siltbuster HD Unit which has revolutionised hydrodemolition water treatment.
The company is extremely happy to have progressed to the Investor in People Silver award and would like to thank our assessor John Jones for his time and thoughts. A big thank you also to our staff for their input which played a huge part in the achievement of the award. Over the next three years we will be working towards achieving the gold standard.
Over the last 10 months, development of Sabre’s new premises has been continuing at a pace to allow the company to move in at the end of February 2018. This has been a major undertaking, particularly coming at a time where the teams out on site are completely flat out due to the ongoing project at M5 Oldbury Viaduct. The entire building and yard have been renovated to create a base that the company and all its employees can be proud of.
One of the major factors in moving premises was to provide more space, or more accurately, more usable space. The old premises in Tyseley were split into two plots, and whilst there was plenty of square footage, the layout made it extremely difficult to store plant and vehicles. At the new premises in Lightning Way, the company will be based under one roof with room to store and work on plant within the building. Having been in just two weeks, the maintenance team have already reaped the benefits of being able to work inside, as the coldest weather in 30 years struck the country. Moving under one roof also allows for better communication and a greater feeling of integration between the maintenance, jetting and office teams. Working as a team is vital to ensure we provide an effective service to our customers.
Finding a new location for the company was not an exact science with a number of factors taken into account. For instance, the new location at Lightning Way is within a residential area with a school nearby. This could have posed a problem with regard to noise, as we often carry out UHP cleaning of dryer drum panels, or other small operations, on our site. In order to ensure we do not become a noisy neighbour, the redevelopment of the building has included the installation of a specially designed jetting bay. This room has been fitted out with triple glazed windows, full soundproofing, metal grated floor and heavy-duty extraction, meaning that our on-site works and testing will not cause a nuisance to those around us and we can continue to service the clients that utilise our facilities.
Sabre Jetting Services Ltd is committed to providing the most competent and well-trained operators in the country. To that end, the new premises has been setup with its own training room, which will be used for both in-house and external training. The facility will be available to third parties who will also be able to utilise the jetting bay for practical training. To the best of our knowledge, there is no other facility of this type in the UK. Having our own training room allows us to organise our training for weekends, meaning that we can keep our resources available to our clients during the week.
Probably the most challenging area of the new site overhaul was the upgrade of the yard. This included the installation of a new drainage system to ensure effective run-off of water (vital when using large volumes for jetting), putting in a bund area below the cleaning and refuelling bay, and last but certainly not least, the creation of ramp access into the building for the jetting vehicles. In its original state, the ramp was not suitable to allow vehicles to access the warehouse. That ramp therefore had to be demolished and a new one created. This involved the co-ordination of numerous trades and the unusual scenario where we were creating a reinforced concrete structure rather than hydro-demolishing one. However, we were able to utilise our water jetting skills at certain stages of construction in order to remove areas of concrete and to prepare surfaces with the ideal finish to receive more concrete.
A lot of thought has gone into the practicalities of the new base, with the layout and storage being considered strongly. During induction for their new place of work, the operators were given instruction for arriving back at the yard, which gave them a systematic process for cleaning their vehicles, refuelling, returning equipment and parking up. Following these processes means that equipment will be ready to go out at all times, reducing delays and minimising mistakes. In addition, the newly implemented maintenance and storage system for job specific equipment will enhance the overall package that we can offer.
One of the most important considerations regarding the new premises had to be the wellbeing of our valued workforce. With that in mind, the on-site facilities made available to the team surpass what was previously available by some distance. Whether it is the ability to work inside, the new locker room, or the brand new luxury kitchen and bathroom facilities, all needs have been catered for. The location, with great access from the M5 & M42 Motorways, will improve journeys for those coming in to work and returning from sites, and make those early morning starts a lot easier. We are certain that all our stakeholders will benefit from an even happier and more positive Sabre team.
Once we are fully settled in our new premises we will be looking to hold an open day so that our suppliers and clients can see the new facility first hand and maybe enjoy a glass of wine. In the meantime, please keep an eye on our Facebook account to see pictures of the Lightning Way redevelopment in process.
2016 was another successful year for Sabre Jetting Services with some record-breaking months at both ends of the spectrum. A vast array of hydrodemolition and industrial projects were completed using various water jetting techniques, pressures, and equipment. Here we are going to take a look back over the year and delve into the numbers to see what story they portray.
January to March
The year got off to an extremely slow start with the worst January and February ever recorded. January saw us on site for just 93 days which was followed up by with only 80 days in February. Both those numbers were well down on the averages for these months which stand at 126 days for January and 115 days for February. Things did begin to improve in March as we worked 127 site days, although that was still down on the highest mark set for the month, 160 days achieved in 2012 and 2014. All in all, it was a slow first quarter and the operators were chomping at the bit to get out on site and put their skills to use on a more regular basis.
April to June
As April started it became apparent that all the frustration built up over previous months was to be put to good use. A major hydrodemolition project was underway for Galliford Try on the A45 near Coventry and with four teams committed to that job, other crews were busy ensuring all other work commitments were satisfied as well. In order to fulfil these requirements, the guys were working 6 days per week and put in a monumental effort to keep the programme moving, completing 158 site days.
Sadly, the peak in April was followed by a trough in May. Traditionally a fairly quiet month but nonetheless, just 94 days on site was a little underwhelming. Luckily though this was nothing on the record low from 2011 which was just 44 days, the worst of any month since records began. Despite not being completely flat out, some major hydrodemolition works were started during May that were to continue through the subsequent months. A local project kicked off at Snow Hill Car Park for Coleman Specialist Cutting and a crew was on site in Portsmouth working alongside a fellow hydrodemolition contractor.
As the summer months approached it was inevitable (and welcome) that the workload would increase as the holiday period started. A slight increase came in June with 107 days on site recorded. The projects at Snow Hill and in Portsmouth were supplemented by projects at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, where our mini excavator was put to work, and Navigator Terminals working for CRL to repair a jetty. Along with the hydrodemolition works, there were also projects cleaning industrial tanks, removing rubber lining and cleaning tube bundles, a truly diverse industry. The second quarter of 2016 clocked a total 359 site days, a marked improvement from 300 in the previous quarter.
July to September
The steady increase in work continued in July up to 121 site days, 14 of which were carried out at the weekend. Another major project commenced at Liverpool 2 Docks, this time working for BAM Ritchie, having previously worked on the same site for BAM Nuttall. Some major hydrodemolition works were also carried out at Gravelly Hill Interchange in Birmingham, part of the infamous Spaghetti Junction. This work was to carry out repairs to the deck and deck ends of the elevated structures and started with 3 teams working through a weekend to complete the deck ends before dropping to 1 team to carry out phased repairs to the deck.
Despite the Gravelly Hill works continuing into August, there was a slight dip to 115 days on site, just slightly down on the average for the month of 121 days. The month was set to be far more fruitful but the pulling of a Network Rail project after just a couple of shifts meant it wasn’t to be. We were set to commit four jetting teams to the project for approximately 30 nights which would have given us a further 120 days over the coming months.
Rather than becoming a problem, the cancellation turned out to be an opportunity as the workload increased dramatically over the next two months. Major projects kicked off for Interserve on the M62 and Ekspan at Fiddlers Elbow, whilst the works at Liverpool 2 Dock and in the Car Park at Snow Hill Station continued at a pace. The total for September was 143 shift days with 18 of those carried out at the weekend thanks mainly to a major push on the Countess Weir project for Lagan Construction. We provided 7 operators with 4 working during the day and 3 during the night to remove a staggering 24m3 over one weekend. The total days for the quarter were up to 379, the best of the year so far.
October to December
If September was busy, then October was set to crank it up a notch with 160 days worked on site, the busiest October we have ever seen and the busiest month of 2016. In amongst those days were two visits to the prestigious Tower Bridge in London on behalf of Ekspan. The guys were working under intense scrutiny due to the significance of the location and the presence of a BBC documentary crew and the works were carried out in a professional manner as always. The operators once again pulled it out the bag to keep all works on programme including working 23 weekend shifts. The work carried out was predominantly hydrodemolition with 150 days dedicated to removal of concrete and just 10 days of industrial works including floor cleaning and paint removal.
Although November was a little slower than October there was still plenty of work to go around with 125 days worked. However, November saw an increase in industrial work rising to 32 shifts from 10 the previous month, 25.6% of the work carried out. One particularly successful project was carried out at Lexden Reservoir for CRL where the team removed over 1000m2 of coating in just 9 shifts using ultra-high pressure water with rotary nozzles. Several similar projects were carried out throughout the year with our ultra-high pressure equipment really coming to the fore.
After what had been a productive 5 month period, the work fell off dramatically in December as it always does. This is of course partly down to the Christmas shutdown in the construction industry. However, the monthly total of 46 days was still the lowest ever in December and obviously down on the average of 70 days for the month. The month had promised more with the first phase of a major job set to start on the M6, however unidentified services discovered on site left us looking forward to a busy start to 2017 as 2016 drew to a close.
All in all, it was a good year with 1369 days worked. A big thank you must go out to all our clients throughout the year and to our operators for their fantastic efforts once again. We hope 2017 can be just as successful!
Sabre Jetting Services recently upgraded its fleet of Siltbuster HD Units and pickups following a theft of a vehicle and HD Unit which occurred whilst one of our teams was working out of town. We were working on a project at DP World in Essex which involved removal of concrete at numerous drain locations and therefore the Siltbuster HD Unit was kept on the back of the pickup in order to stay mobile. The vehicle was then parked on the car park of the accommodation overnight but when our team tried to leave for work the next morning the vehicle was gone. Unfortunately, the police were unable to locate the vehicle or the culprits and therefore the company was hit with a huge loss of assets.
Following the theft, the company decided to not only replace but also upgrade the equipment. A replacement Siltbuster HD Unit was purchased along with two new Nissan pickups so that each of the companies four Siltbuster HD Units could be permanently allied to one of four Nissan pickups. The four plant & vehicle combinations have now been named from HD01 to HD04 but the ability to remove each Siltbuster HD Unit from its vehicle remains so that the units can be positioned on site for long term projects or projects with limited space.
Each Siltbuster Unit is setup with all the pumps, hoses and fittings required for the inlet and discharge of the run-off water. These items are checked before and after each project and the operation of the unit is tested and calibrated where necessary. All of this information is recorded on a Siltbuster discharge sheet to ensure that every unit comes to site in full working order with all necessary equipment available. For our clients, this is in contrast to hiring the Siltbuster HD Unit themselves as all the ancillary items would need to be arranged separately therefore adding further workload.
All four of the Nissan pickups have also been setup to comply with the FORS scheme in line with the requirements for Crossrail projects. This means that any of these vehicles attending your site have additional safety features as well as full chapter 8 markings therefore reducing the likelihood of an accident on site.
As well as removing the need for our clients to hire in the Siltbuster HD Units and set them up with all the equipment required, Sabre Jetting Services Ltd will also remove the requirement for the client to operate and maintain the units on site. All of our operators are trained in the setup and use of the HD Units and will carry this out on site whilst also monitoring the quality of the discharge to ensure that the Siltbuster HD Unit is operating correctly.
Each Siltbuster HD Unit is fitted with a data logger which records the pH level of the water following treatment with CO2 to reduce the alkalinity level. This information can then be produced as a graph at the end of the project. The operators on site will also record this information manually to provide the client with an ongoing record as works progress. On long term projects we will arrange for the CO2 bottles to be exchanged as required and even arrange for clean out of the Siltbuster HD Unit on site where necessary. Our in-house Siltbuster specialist is also available to come to site in the event of any technical issues.
Each Siltbuster HD Unit has the capacity to treat the run-off water for two teams simultaneously. However, where the site setup does not allow this or where more than two teams are required, our fleet of four Siltbuster HD Units means that we have the resources to accommodate. In addition to the four Siltbuster HD Units we also have a Siltbuster FB50 which can be extremely useful for additional filtration on projects with high volume concrete removal or where the site conditions mean there is more silt within the run-off water than just that from the hydrodemolition process. Again, the FB50 unit would be provided with all the necessary pumps, fittings and hoses.
The provision of fully operable Siltbuster HD Units forms a key part of Sabre Jetting Services’ commitment to providing the full hydrodemolition package to our clients thus removing the burden of managing a number of key elements of the water jetting process. With the four Siltbuster HD Units and pickups in place our clients can be assured that the treatment of the hydrodemolition run-off water is always taken care of..
Sabre Jetting Services Ltd recently registered with Achilles UVDB at the request of major client Balfour Beatty. Following registration and completion of the online assessment, a B2 audit was required due to the nature of the business and the services provided. The audit took place over two days and included an office based audit of our Health & Safety, Environmental & Quality Management Systems plus a site based audit.
During the first day, Achilles Assessor Paul Clifford attended the Sabre offices to go through our systems and check there was evidence in place that the systems were being utilised. As well as the systems mentioned above, evidence of our Corporate & Social Responsibility policies was also required. Following the office based audit and presentation of the relevant evidence a highly reputable score of 93% was awarded.
On day two, Paul visited a Sabre Jetting team working at a water treatment works in Nottingham, carrying out removal of polyurethane coating from within a tank using ultra high pressure water jetting. Again he was looking for evidence that our systems were being transferred to practical situations and reflected in the way the work was carried out. After assessing the evidence available in our team’s site safety file an even higher score of 96% was awarded for the site based audit.
These two scores are a fantastic achievement for any business, and particularly for such a small company with just 25 employees. The results highlight further our commitment to health and safety and add to our list of health and safety accreditations which includes CHAS, Exor, Costructionline and Builders Profile.
In addition to health and safety, the results of the audit also demonstrate that Sabre Jettin Services Ltd is acting in a responsible manner with regard to the environment, its employees and society in general.
As a result of the audit, potential clients will now be able to view the company on the Achilles UVDB Community and find us based on the service they require. Sabre Jetting Services Ltd can currently be found within two categories entitled ‘Concrete Services’ and ‘Demolition & Clearance Work’ and we are hopeful a more specific category for hydrodemolition will be added in the near future.
Sabre’s Site Safety Files
A big part of the successful audit was the presence and contents of our site safety files which our operators receive prior to every project. These files contain information relating to the major categories of the audit, Health & Safety, Environment and Quality and ensure our teams arrive on site with the knowledge required to carry out their duties as intended.
From the health & safety perspective, the file contains the site specific RAMS, daily check sheets, all training certificates for the operators and all test/ maintenance certificates for the equipment being used. This information is available for inspection by our clients but is kept within the safety file for the duration of the project. This vital information is therefore immediately accessible in the event of an H&S audit or HSE visit.
Our environmental portion of the safety file comes in the form of the Siltbuster quick start guide along with the setup and inspection records for the Siltbuster. There is also a pH record form in every folder so that the operators can manually record the pH of the water following treatment. This supplements the use of data loggers on the Siltbuster units which automatically record the pH of the treated water and store the information on a USB flash drive.
Obviously the quality of the work carried out is extremely important, and as part of our quality management system the folders contain our day sheets and measure sheets to allow the team to have their work signed off by the client on completion. The team is able to ascertain whilst on site whether any additional removal is required and rectify immediately if necessary. The job will only be signed off by the client if they are satisfied with the work carried out. On long term projects these quality forms are handed in on a weekly basis and we are therefore able to ensure that each job is progressing as expected.
With our site safety files in place for every project and the Achilles UVDB audit successfully completed, Sabre Jetting Services Ltd can assure customers that we have the mechanisms in place to work in a safe and responsible manner at all times. Major companies, such as Balfour Beatty, can therefore have confidence in Sabre Jetting Services Ltd as a valuable member of their supply chain.
At Sabre Jetting Services we have an unwavering commitment to training as demonstrated by the implementation of our in-house practical hydrodemolition training. This training was introduced after we recognised the shortfall within the hydrodemolition industry when it comes to providing new operators the practical skills to carry out their job rather than just the H&S knowledge.
Clearly the opportunity to have ability assessed does exist in the form of the Water Jetting NVQ. However, this is suited to hydrodemolition operators who already have the required skills and experience. What was not readily available was the long term process to take an individual from newcomer with no experience to operator, working in a two man team and ready for NVQ assessment. That is why Sabre Jetting have developed a 13 month programme to train any new employees, taking them through levels of learning and assessing them along the way.
The training is carried out in stages and the trainee must show they have reached the desired level of competence in order to progress to the next stage.
Stage 1 – 15 weeks yard based probation
The purpose of the probation period is to give the employee an understanding of the company and the industry and determine whether they feel they are a suitable fit for the demands of hydrodemolition. During this time the employee will carry out the WJA H&S training and learn about the processes of the company, whilst also being introduce to the basic operation and maintenance of the jetting equipment. The employee will also carry out very short stints of supervised water jetting to clean dryer drum panels in our yard. This gives them their first experience of the H&S process required to carry out any job, including reading, signing and complying with the RAMS document, setting up a safe working area and completing all pre-start checks. Over the course of the 15 weeks the employee will also receive 12 in-house training courses in preparation for moving to stage 2.
Stage 2 – 15 weeks site based – third man in a three man hydrodemolition team
Provided all of the requirements for the probation period are met, the employee will move on to stage two. This involves working as a third man on site, on hydrodemolition projects where only a two man team is usually required. As a third man the employee will shadow the role of the safety standby and also undertake their first on-site jetting. Initially the jetting will be in 20 minute stints with the working pressure of the pump reduced to ensure the trainee operator is able to comfortably control the reaction force of the jetting gun. As the confidence and ability of the trainee progresses, the pressure and the length of time on the gun can be gradually increased. The Team Leader will assess the performance of the trainee and report weekly to enable a decision to be made on when they are ready to progress. At the end of this period the operator should have a good understanding of the role of safety standby and be capable of jetting using the maximum working pressure of the jetting unit. If necessary the period can be extended to allow sufficient time for the operator to gain the required knowledge and skills to move on to stage 3.
Stage 3 – 26 weeks site based second hydrodemolition operative
Following completion of stage 2 the trainee should be well prepared to work as part of a two man team. The purpose of this period is to allow the trainee to continue to develop their jetting technique and to work on a variety of projects. Some of the in-house training courses will be repeated and the trainee will be asked to document their time on site so they are able to demonstrate that they are learning new skills and tackling different types of removal. The Team Leader will continue to monitor the progress of the trainee. On completion of this period the trainee will be ready to progress to stage 4 where they will be externally assessed for their NVQ.
Stage 4 – NVQ Level 2 Assessment
At this point the in-house training is effectively complete and the employee will no longer need to be assessed by their Team Leader. However, before being able to be classed as a fully qualified water jetting operative the operator must be externally assessed to achieve an NVQ Level 2 in water jetting. These assessments can last 6-18 months, with Q&A sessions, employer endorsements and witness statements used to build a portfolio of evidence along with on-site observations by the assessor. Once complete the operator can now be classed as fully qualified.
There is no other company within the hydrodemolition industry with a formal training procedure of this nature for inexperienced operators. Sabre Jetting is once again leading the way in this area and moving the whole industry forward in the process. Our clients can be assured that only highly trained individuals will carry out hydrodemolition on their sites and that any trainees will be well supervised and working to a strict programme to ensure their safety.
Sabre Jetting Services is delighted to announce that we have been named as one of Costains’ top 5 suppliers on the M1 Smart Motorways project over the last 12 months. Of 40 suppliers on the project, Sabre finished 3rd when rated over 5 key areas; People, Time, Safety Health & Environment, Quality and Cost & Commercial Management. This is fantastic news for the company and shows that all the work to continuously improve the company both behind the scenes and out on site is being recognised by our clients.
This recognition reflects innovations by Sabre Jetting such as our POSH procedures, and the focus on development demonstrated by the Investor in People Bronze award. It also shows how our workforce has embraced the company ethos and is actively providing a high class service to our customers. Costain is recognised as one of the Top 100 ‘Most Admired’ companies in the UK, so to be rated 3rd in their list of suppliers, on what is a major project, is extremely pleasing.
Further to the developments mentioned above, the company has also continued to progress in a number of other areas, from the high quality & maintenance of equipment through to the training and appearance of the operators.
On the equipment front, all of the jetting machines utilise the best pumps and engines available within the industry and are serviced at 350hr, 700hr & 1000hr intervals. All of the plant and company vehicles carry the company livery and are chapter 8, meaning they have all of the necessary safety features for highways works. To ensure these specialist plant units have everything they need whilst on site, a discharge check of the units is carried out before and after every project with any missing equipment replaced and any faults corrected. These simple but crucial checks are paramount to ensuring an excellent service.
With regard to our operators, we believe Sabre Jetting has the most extensively trained and highly skilled workforce within the industry. The training our operators have received includes, water jetting NVQ level 2, WJA H&S, manual handling, first aid, SEATS, SSP, confined space and IPAF with all of the team leaders also holding the SSSTS. In addition to these external training courses our operators also receive in house training in the following areas; reaction force, short lances, safety standby and the aforementioned POSH procedures. Any new starts with no previous jetting experience must go through a 12 month practical training period which has also been developed in house and is unmatched throughout the rest of the industry.
The recognition from Costain is mirrored by the feedback we received from our customers throughout 2014. At the end of every project we issued quality questionnaires to the clients asking for them to rate our on-site performance from poor to excellent in the following areas; timekeeping, operative presentation, communication, manners, safety awareness, tidiness / clearance of site, machinery presentation and quality of workmanship. The feedback we received was fantastic with 99% of all responses being either good or excellent.
Another aspect of the business showing major growth is the ability to provide a full package on site. This includes the provision of containment, sound attenuation blankets, water and water treatment. The company owns five Siltbuster units and these are checked over before and after every job to ensure they are always operational. When we supply a Siltbuster to a project it arrives on site with two CO2 bottles, two sub pumps, a puddle sucker and all the necessary hoses and fittings. This is not the case if hiring the unit from another source. Our Operations Assistant, James Ingley, is responsible for the maintenance of the Siltbuster Units and pumps plus any other items that we supply such as generators and jetting enclosures. Having James in this role has allowed us the confidence to provide a full package more often as we know we are able to fulfil all the requirements, and that the extra services and equipment we are supplying are to the same high standard as the operators and jetting units.
The benefit to Costain of supplying a package was clearly evident when working on the M1 Smart Motorways project, where we supplied our tanker unit and a Severn Trent Water standpipe as well as a Siltbuster HD Unit and generator. The fact that Sabre were regarded so highly on this project really shows that the package we offer is of interest to our clients and can be executed successfully.
Finally, Sabre Jetting would just like to congratulate all of our employees that were involved with the M1 Smart Motorways project and also all of our operators for their hard work throughout 2014 and continuing into 2015.
As leaders in the hydrodemolition industry we have developed our own safety procedures following the Water Jetting Association code of practice. Our POSH procedures are a reminder to our operators of their duties on every site and will ensure that every single job we carry out is setup in the optimum way to ensure minimum risk. The acronym POSH stands for, Position of the jetting unit, Operation of the jetting unit, Seeing the jetting enclosure and Hearing the jetting operation. Keeping in mind these four key responsibilities means that our operators are perfectly prepared to deal with any potential emergency.
P – Position of the jetting unit – The location of the jetting unit is important in order to fulfil all of the requirements of the POSH procedures. The safety standby operator will often base themselves at the jetting unit whilst carrying out their safety standby duties. In this instance it is imperative that the unit is located in a suitable position from which the safety standby is able to hear the jetting operation clearly and have a clear view of the jetting enclosure. On some sites this is not possible and this is when a remote stop is utilised to allow the safety standby to carry out their duties from a suitable location away from the jetting unit.
O – Operation of the jetting unit – This includes completion of daily check sheets, positioning the remote stop, bleeding the unit, starting and stopping the unit and regular checks of the unit and gauges whilst the pump is running. These procedures are a vital part of the daily setup and maintenance of the jetting unit ensuring the pump is safe to use and working correctly throughout the day.
S – See the jetting enclosure – One of the most important roles of the safety standby operator is to visually monitor the jetting enclosure and any exclusion zones. This is for two crucial reasons. Firstly, the safety standby must ensure that no unauthorised site staff or other third parties enter the exclusion zone or the jetting enclosure. Should somebody be allowed to approach the jetting operator whilst he is working there could be grave consequences. Secondly, the safety standby must also ensure that the protective sheeting is fully in tact at all times. Should there be any damage to the sheeting the operation must be halted immediately to allow repairs to be made. If jetting is carried out without 100% encapsulation then high velocity flying debris could escape and has the potential to cause serious damage to anybody in the vicinity of the works.
H – Hear the jetting operation – As the majority of water jetting operations are carried out within an enclosure to contain the flying debris it is often impossible to have a clear line of site between the safety standby and the jetting operator. The safety standby must therefore be able to hear the operation in the case of an emergency. When the gun operator is removing concrete the noise from the operation is around 90db. The further the cutting nozzle is away from the surface the louder the noise as the water travels through the air at high velocity. In the event of an emergency situation, such as the gun sticking whilst at full pressure, the gun operator will direct the gun away from the concrete into the air to create a long jet of water and increase the noise level to around 120db. If this occurs the safety standby must shut down the pump immediately.
All of our operators are trained on these POSH Procedures and the Team Leader for each project must show how the team is complying with the procedures as part of their task sheet. This enables anybody on site to check that the team is working in a safe manner.
These procedures are just a small part of all of the safety processes put in place to ensure our operation is safe for the operators and all site staff. Please feel free to contact us for information on these or any other safety procedures you may be interested in.
At Sabre Jetting Services Ltd we provide our operators with the latest and most relevant hydrodemolition PPE available. Over the years it has been a challenge to find suitable PPE for such a small and specialist industry and we have even had to develop our own in order to ensure our operators are protected to the highest available standard. As you can see if you watch some of the videos on our website, our operators work in enclosed areas with concrete debris bursting off towards them at high velocity as they remove it. In addition to the flying concrete debris, the operators are also working in wet conditions and utilising potentially dangerous (if used incorrectly) high pressure water within close vicinity of their body. PPE is a crucial part of a system of control measures put in place to protect the operators from the potential hazards of their working environment.
In view of the necessity for suitable PPE when carrying out hydrodemolition, Sabre Jetting has committed considerable time and money into finding the finest PPE available. This search has included trials by our operators, development committees, independent testing and the creation of technical files for CE certificates of conformity. Although we are currently satisfied that we are using the best PPE available for this niche industry, we continue to look out for progress made by the suppliers and to look at ways develop the PPE which is created in house.
Items of PPE
All of our operators are issued with their own pair of TST High Trousers which offer protection against the water jet. These have been selected as they are rated up to 3000 BAR and are most likely to offer protection should the operator swipe himself with the lance. We have found from using the TST High Trousers and other similar products that the TST PPE offers greater comfort and range of movement than the other products therefore allowing the operator greater control of the jetting gun.
The wellingtons worn by our operators are chainsaw wellingtons which have a steel toe cap. Although there are two specialist water jetting wellingtons on the market, they have been found to be unsuitable for a hydrodemolition environment and fail to provide the primary function of a wellington, keeping the feet dry. The wellingtons we provide are selected for their durability and high slip resistance.
Wearing a chainsaw wellington rather than a water jetting wellington poses one problem, and that is how to provide enhanced metatarsal protection. For this we have found that the Falch Foot Protectors are the optimum solution. The Falch Foot Protectors have been selected following extensive trials of metatarsal protection. Three alternative options have been discounted following trials due to their unsuitability when carrying out hydrodemolition. The Falch Foot Protectors are found to be easy to secure to the wellington with good coverage of the foot. Operators have reported that they stay in position during jetting and do not provide any limitation on movement. All our operators are issued with their own Falch Foot Protectors and wear them on every job we carry out.
An integral part of the PPE provided to our employees is the two piece wetsuit. As you can imagine, you could get rather wet when carrying out hydrodemolition and this wetsuit is therefore essential to keep the operator dry whilst also protecting the legs, arms and torso against rebounding concrete debris. The wetsuits we provide are Scandinavian manufactured heavy duty fishing wetsuits and stand up well to the rigours of hydrodemolition. An alternative lightweight wetsuit is also available for use when carrying out less aggressive applications. Operators are issued with new wetsuits every 6 months or, sooner if any damage occurs during wear.
Due to the noise levels created by the water leaving the jetting nozzle at high speed, all hydrodemolition operatives must wear hearing protection. In order to find the preferred product, we tested a number of ear defenders with SNR ratings high enough to reduce noise exposure to the required levels. Following feedback from the operators a HL ear plug was selected based on comfort, and ease of use, but also ensuring that the product gave the necessary attenuation at the noise frequency created by the water jet.
Possibly the most critical item of PPE for a hydrodemolition operative is the jetting mask. This item offers protection to the eyes and face from flying concrete debris. Despite being such a vital piece of PPE there is nothing available off the shelf from the major PPE manufacturers that is suitable for use in the hydrodemolition industry. Sabre Jetting Services have therefore developed our own mask which has been independently tested and deemed to meet the requirements of EN166-B, the standard for protection against high speed particles. Each mask is manufactured to a strict standard following instructions set out in the product technical folder, ensuring our operators are always using a mask made to the highest possible standard.
In order to guarantee our operators have the correct PPE at all times, Sabre Jetting Services conduct meetings twice a year to issue and inspect PPE. Operators are also encouraged to return any damaged PPE for replacement as required.