Case Study: Ferrovial Construction have adopted Reactec’s R-Link innovative technology to improve the safety of employees working close to moving vehicles at Heathrow Airport

The Challenge

With a working relationship of 15 years delivering a body of improvement works and asset management at Heathrow, Ferrovial Construction knows well the risk levels of working within a live airport environment. From runway repair works at night, to time constraints surrounding runway availability, Ferrovial Construction Senior Project Manager Alberto de Fuentes and Head of Safety Bill Mitchell, regularly review their procedures to ensure people are separated from plant as much as reasonably practicable. Their knowledge and experience of operations highlighted an additional risk factor; potential complacency from long serving employees with the belief that they better understand how the work should be carried out. In reviewing accidents involving plant and vehicles Bill and Alberto concluded that some of these incidents could be avoided and decided to investigate the role that technology could play in reducing the level of risk.

The Solution

The Reactec team developed R-Link in 2022 as a multi-function risk management tool. The system involves a 3rd generation smart watch which informs the wearer of their levels of risk, such as proximity to a hazard or exposure to hand arm vibration. A beacon is placed on vehicles or other hazards to create an exclusion zone around the hazard and warn the R-Link wearer when they breach the exclusion area. The R-Link watch also records data on the breach incident which is automatically collected and reported within Reactec’s powerful cloud-based analytical software to allow companies to proactively manage safer ways of working. Ferrovial Construction evaluated three proximity protection products and selected Reactec’s R-Link following a successful trial of the technology in November 2022.

The trial involved two separate contractors, over two nights. On the first night a blind trial was implemented where the contractors wore the R-Link watches and were instructed to carry out their work in the usual way while audible and vibration alerts from the R-Link watch were switched off. Whilst not alerting the wearers, the R-Link watches did collect data on the exclusion zone incursions during work. The following night shift, a different contractor wore the watches and were trained on the use of the watches. They were instructed to respond to the watch alerts and move away from the proximity hazard in a safe manner.

Tracey Gorman, Reactec Business Development Director, said “It was exciting to participate in the trial, seeing first-hand the speed the vehicles move and the pace of the work was eye opening. Reviewing the data post trial evidenced the gains on behavioural awareness.”

The Results

Between the two nights’ operations, the alerted workers recorded 82% less incursion time than the unalerted workers to the same type of vehicles.

Ignacio Lopez Araiz, Ferrovial Construction Heathrow Project Director decided to implement the R-Link technology. The site team responsible for the trial were all in agreement that the investment in technology would support their preventative approach to health and safety.

Ignacio Lopez Araiz, said: “Ferrovial’s commitment to the digitalisation and virtualisation of its infrastructure is delivered via its open innovation strategy. The health and safety of its people, stakeholders and end users is at the core of these developments. We have previously used Reactec technology HAVWEAR to support the management of Hand Arm Vibration. Our deployment of R-Link will bolster our safety procedures and will reduce our risk of incident and accidents.”

Jacqui McLaughlin, Reactec CEO added “It was a pleasure to work with a client with a keen sense of the value from innovation and a proactive approach to preventing workplace health and safety issues. We look forward to ensuring Ferrovial realise the full benefits of Reactec’s proximity warning system and the greater functionality of R-Link as we expand the feature set from our highly versatile workplace wearable and cloud-based analytics.”