My latest startup interview looks at a cross-platform health and safety compliance service, Hands HQ.
Another day, another AEC startup, another Alex. The day after meeting Alex Siljanovski, CEO of BlueRonin (post), I met up with Alexander Green, CEO of HANDS HQ, a London-based startup providing online construction health and safety documentation services.
A construction project manager by background, Alex founded HANDS HQ in early 2013. The company, backed by angel investors, currently works out of the Rainmaking Loft startup hub offices close to Tower Bridge. Pitching (successfully) to potential investors, Alex apparently described HANDS HQ as one of the “least sexiest businesses” they would see, but he argues it is a “value-needed product”.
The company’s core application helps trade subcontractors such as carpenters, bricklayers, plumbers, electricians, HVAC and other equipment and services installers complete accurate risk assessment/method statement (RAMS) documentation. RAMS paperwork is required before operatives from such businesses can enter a live construction site, and conventional Word and Excel templates can be time-consuming to compile, and often incorrect. HANDS HQ streamlines a process that can take an employee two hours and delivers a complete, branded, project- and site-specific document in around three minutes, Alex says.
The Software-as-a-Service application therefore cuts the the cost of producing risk assessments and method statements by as much as 90%. Being cross-platform, users can access it from desktops, laptops or mobile devices, working from home or site, while commuting or between jobs, and will help subcontractors efficiently manage their documentation across multiple projects and sites.
“I have witnessed first hand the difficulties many construction and trade companies had with compiling site-specific risk assessments and method statements. Often this is due to time, cost and the lack of necessary skills needed to produce what can be fairly complex documents. While many contractors undertake training to gain access to major construction sites, they can often be turned away from site because of incorrect documentation and administration.
“We wanted to create a simple, affordable way for all stakeholders on a job to compile, edit and share their documentation. More paper work wasn’t the answer – a smarter, and more flexible system is needed.”
Alex argues that while most contractors appreciate the need for legislation and safe work, in a cost-conscious, low-margin industry like construction, many businesses cannot justify the added expense of recruiting a health and safety consultant. Moreover, in almost all circumstances, he says the contractor on the ground has a much better understanding of the inherent risks involved in their job than anyone else.
The SaaS tool, developed in Ruby on Rails (led by user experience expert and co-founder Jamie Carruthers), caters to its target market by being quick and simple to use. HANDS HQ allows users to repeat standard company information then select the type of work and job-related hazards at the click of a button. A firm can sign up to the service for as little as £25 per month, which will allow them to compile up to three RAMS documents.
Unlimited submissions, and multiple trade documents for builders, will soon be available from £65 per month, and more users can be included for an additional fee, Alex says.
HANDS HQ is developing partnerships with trade associations to help grow its user base, with the Institute of Carpenters about to launch the service to its members. As well as supporting specific trades, the company will extend its services to help small builders, who often manage multiple trades, so that they too can streamline their RAMS document production processes.