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Queensferry bridge sets record as longest free-standing cantilever

September 21st, 2016 No comments

Contractors building the £1.3bn Queensferry Crossing have set a new record by creating the the longest free-standing cantilever in the world at 644m.

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The structure will become the longest three-tower, cable-stayed bridge in the world

The bridge deck sections are edging closer and closer by the day as engineers come close to linking the deck sections at the north and south sides of the bridge.

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When the weight of a 750 tonnes bridge section is lifted the deck deflects by 4m giving the impression the two decks will not meet.

Once work is complete on the project in June 2017, the new Queensferry Crossing will stretch 2.7km in length and will include three single column towers and approach viaducts.

Galliford Try is part of the four-company consortium that includes Hochtief, Dragados, and American Bridge of Pittsburgh in the US  building the main motorway bridge over the Firth of Forth under a £790m contract.

The structure will become the longest three-tower, cable-stayed bridge in the world and also by far the longest to feature cables which cross mid-span. This innovative design provides extra strength and stiffness, allowing the towers and the deck to be more slender and elegant.

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Considerate Constructors Scheme seeks new Board Directors

September 19th, 2016 No comments

Newly appointed Scheme Executive Chairman Isabel Martinson to recruit new Board Directors to take Scheme to the ‘next level’

Isabel Martinson photographLondon, United Kingdom, 19 September 2016: The Considerate Constructors Scheme (CCS) – the national Scheme to improve the image of the construction industry – is recruiting for new Board Directors.

Isabel Martinson, who was appointed as Executive Chairman of the Scheme in July 2016, is looking for senior representatives from within and outside of the construction industry to expand the CCS to move to the ‘next level’, to further enhance the construction industry’s image and reputation.

The CCS is an independent organisation formed in 1997. Since its formation, it has significantly altered the approach the construction industry takes to those affected by its activities, the construction workforce, and the impact construction has on the local environment.  It has achieved wide recognition and is highly regarded and respected by those aware of and involved in the Scheme.

Construction sites, companies and suppliers voluntarily register with the Scheme and agree to abide by the Scheme’s Code of Considerate Practice. The Code commits those registered with the Scheme to care about appearance, respect the community, protect the environment, secure everyone’s safety and value their workforce.

The Scheme is looking for new Board members who are committed to the Scheme’s ethos, and in particular, those with expertise in the areas of marketing and communications, finance, commercial contracts and outsourcing.

CCS Ltd logo RGBConsiderate Constructors Scheme Executive Chairman Isabel Martinson commented: “The CCS provides a hugely important and influential role in helping to enhance the construction industry’s reputation to the public, those within the industry and the Government. I look forward to working with a team of newly appointed Board Directors to shape the future reputation of the construction industry through the Considerate Constructors Scheme.”

Terms of reference, person/skills specifications and the application procedure are available via the Scheme’s website here.

The application deadline is 1200 on Wednesday 5 October 2016.

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Minister confirms support of Prompt Payment Code and success in changing payment culture

September 16th, 2016 No comments

Minister confirms support of Prompt Payment Code and success in changing payment culture

New measures to support the Prompt Payment Code (PPC) and drive a culture of better payment practice have been confirmed in a letter to PPC signatories from Margot James, Minister for Small Business and Philip King, Chief margot-james-medium philip-king-mediumExecutive of the Chartered Institute of Credit Management (CICM).

The letter highlights the significant success of the Code to date, and in particular highlighting the challenges against Code signatories that it says have been ‘hugely successful in achieving fast settlement of invoices, creating dialogue between parties, improving contract terms, and providing constructive assistance welcomed by suppliers and signatories alike’.

The correspondence also confirms the future appointment of a Small Business Commissioner to provide help and advice to business, including on achieving prompt payment, and the Statutory Duty to Report for large businesses to report on payment practices that comes into force from 6 April, 2017. Further strengthening of the Code will follow the implementation of the Duty to Report measures.

The authors of the letter confirm that signatories should be paying within 30 days where possible and that this should increasingly be the norm. The Code Compliance Board will not be enforcing 30 day terms but states that paying invoices within 60 days will be a requirement unless there are exceptional circumstances that will be considered on a case by case basis. An example of ‘exceptional circumstances’ might be where a company is able to demonstrate that it applies different terms to the benefit of their smaller suppliers.

The Minister says that: “Prompt payment can make all the difference to small businesses, boosting their cashflow and allowing them to invest in growth for the future. Although we have seen some progress, there are still too many business owners across the country who have not been paid on time by their customers.

“We need a culture change to stamp this out and the Prompt Payment Code continues to play an important role in bringing this about, alongside a package of measures taken forward by government and industry. The businesses signed up to the Code commit to demonstrating the gold standard of payment practices and it’s great to see so many of Britain’s leading household names on the list.”

The Prompt Payment Code is administered by the CICM on behalf of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). It currently has more than 1,800 signatories, with each signatory committing to best practice in the fair and equal treatment of suppliers, many of whom are smaller businesses.

Last year the Government announced a series of measures within the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act to further strengthen the Code.

 

www.promptpaymentcode.org.uk

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Ancient pictures capture site life at the end of Victorian era

September 14th, 2016 No comments

A Scottish Water employee has rescued remarkable pictures giving a unique insight into daily life on a major Aberdeen sewer scheme more than 100 years ago.

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The Girdleness Outfall Scheme was designed to improve sanitation in the growing city and employed an army of construction workers hand-digging tunnels and using steam engines to help deliver the major scheme.

The images date from 1900 and 1901, the last year of the Victorian age, when construction was in full swing and capture the scope of the impressive engineering project.

Bob Nicoll, of Scottish Water in Aberdeen, said: “I’ve had the pictures for the last 15 or 16 years.

“They were part of some old archive stuff due to be thrown out but I felt they needed to be rescued from that as they show an amazing part of the city’s industrial history.”

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Construction involved blasting 40,000 tonnes of rock in order to create a trench for pipelines.

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Property fund to restart trading as Brexit fears ease

September 13th, 2016 No comments

A property investment fund suspended in the wake of the Brexit vote is set to resume trading.

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The Columbia Threadneedle UK Property Authorised Investment Fund was one of a number of funds suspended as the EU Referendum result spooked the market.

Trading will restart on September 26 as the company described initial market fears as “irrational”.

Don Jordison, Managing Director of Property, Columbia Threadneedle Investments, said: “In the short period following the referendum we saw animal spirits drive unprecedented levels of redemptions from daily dealt open-ended property funds.

“Much of the earlier commentary now appears slightly irrational and more informed reflection has settled the market.

“Any effects of the Brexit vote on the overall UK economy – negative or otherwise – will take many months if not years to transpire and some time after that for the property market.

“In the current climate of low growth and low returns from other asset classes, and with the UK property market yielding 5%, it is our view that UK property offers a significant in-built risk premium for long-term investors.

“We are pleased t o open the Fund again and believe this is in the best interest of our customers. We will continue to closely monitor conditions to ensure the interests of our investors in the Fund are paramount at all times.”

The Threadneedle PAIF invests in physical UK commercial property such as warehouses, shopping centres, high street shops and offices around the UK.

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Fast turnaround Measured Building Surveys

September 6th, 2016 No comments

Mobile CAD Surveying Solutions Ltd  can accommodate either a simple single property floor plan for a domestic or logowhitebackground (Small)private customer to a complete schedule of buildings including whatever type of data collection the customer requires for commercial customers. If Architects or Surveyors and you require fast turn around building surveys, please give us a try! we currently work for dozens of architects, surveyors and designers around the UK, where they haven’t the capacity or staff to handle their own surveys or where they just require someone to make sure the job is done right, first time, Mobile CAD Surveying Solutions can help you.

Currently we are working on many Commercial surveys around the country, with a number of domestic and Dimensional Property Surveys around the UK and into Europe, if you require any type of Measured Building Survey then please contact us.

We can provide Floor plans,  Elevational drawings, or a Topographical survey also Underground Utility Traces and all types of Measured Building Survey with varying levels of detailed work – from simple walls, columns, doors and window surveys, to a fully detailed data set including all 3D information including cill & head heights, stair riser and going details, door heights, ceiling heights, beam details, fitted furniture etc.. As part of our measured surveys, the surveyors can also pick up and highlight other information for example: any electrical and data points, sanitary fittings, incoming mains positions, plant, fire fighting and detection equipment, security equipment, signage and so on.

An accurate  topographical survey or land survey is essential to any project that you are considering and can lessen the possibility of costly mistakes or unforeseen issues later on.  The amount and type of topographical survey data that we collect on site is always based on your specification. However, our experienced land surveyors will use their knowledge of planning and development issues and requirements to provide additional information that might be vital for any future design or planning application. We are also able to gather information from any utility companies which can be added to your topographical survey drawings..

360D Panoramic Photography – We can also provide a 360 degree photographic record of your project to aid with design/construction

The ‘as built’ documentation provided by the company is highly detail oriented, every project can be accompanied by 360 degrees photographs to provide better understanding of the plans. Photographs give clients instant visuals which help in picturing the plan in a much better fashion.

We can also provide other additional land surveying services that you may require, for example; underground services tracing ( GPR – Ground Penetrating Radar) and 3D laser scanning enable us to provide you with a one-stop-shop for your surveying requirements.

for more information, please visit:-

Mobile CAD Surveying

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CIOB launches call for evidence as part of Government-led housing taskforce

September 6th, 2016 No comments

logo_ciobThe Chartered Institute of Building has launched a call for evidence into skills, materials and new technology in the housing sector. The work forms part of a wider coalition – the National Housing Taskforce – which has been convened by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Housing and Planning.

The Taskforce, which has already met with new Housing Minister Gavin Barwell MP, is operating across 12 distinct areas of work to take a holistic view of how to tackle the housing crisis, covering everything from planning reform to housing associations, and construction skills to mortgage finance. Each work-stream is being led by a relevant organisation which will submit recommendations to the Taskforce later in the year.

The CIOB’s work-stream is charged with addressing the main issues in the construction labour market, including availability, productivity and diversity. Additionally, it will look at materials and new technology, primarily off-site manufacture and modern methods of construction (MMC), including how they link to skills. The call for evidence can be accessed here: http://policy.ciob.org/consultations/ 

David Hawkes, CIOB Policy Manager, said: “At its most basic level, what this work-stream boils down to is capacity. Studies have shown the housing sector needs 120,000 new employees just to meet the required annual level of homes the UK needs. At the same time, house builders say they cannot build more than 150,000 homes per year via conventional means.

“What this suggests to us is that something needs to fundamentally change if we are to properly address the housing crisis. We need more people working more productively and we have to work out how best to utilise and implement new technologies, materials and processes.”

Explaining how the work-stream will progress, Hawkes said: “The CIOB will be working closely with MPs and industry experts to analyse the responses we receive. We’ll then host a number of inquiry-style discussions to hone in on the most relevant evidence and submit our recommendations to the National Housing Taskforce by the end of the year.”

The CIOB’s call for evidence is inviting submissions from industry, government, education establishments, professionals and other interested stakeholders that shed light on addressing the skills gap that currently exists across the sector. Additionally, the CIOB is keen to hear of the opportunities for improving productivity and driving down costs through the use of construction techniques such as off-site manufacture. Of particular interest are successful initiatives both for skills and technology that are operating at scale, or could be scaled up.

Suggested areas that evidence might cover, though this is by no means exclusive, are as follows:

  • What barriers are there to long-term training and skills development in the housing sector? What incentives can be used?
  • What is the role for small and medium-sized house builders in addressing skills gaps or leading the way with new technology? Are there examples of any successful business models in smaller companies that have the capacity to be upscaled?
  • What difference do technological innovations make to our needs for skills and materials?
  • Are current government policies supporting investment in new technology for house building?
  • What can the industry do to attract and train more people, and what can be done to improve labour productivity?
  • What will be the effects of the vote to leave the EU on skills, materials and new technology?

Evidence needs to be submitted by 17:00 on 9 September 2016. Full details and guidelines on submission can be found here: http://policy.ciob.org/consultations/ 

The CIOB hopes to invite as many people and organisations as possible to give oral evidence during sessions later in the year. The final National Housing Taskforce report, incorporating recommendations from all twelve work-streams, is expected to be released by Spring 2017.

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Construction Workers and Asbestos Exposure

September 5th, 2016 No comments

Construction Workers and Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos has been used extensively in the construction industry throughout the world. In the UK this material was still being used up to 1999, while in other countries its use was discontinued decades earlier. The reason for no longer using asbestos for insulation, roofing, and other construction components is that inhaling its fibers can lead to health problems. These include the aggressive and most often deadly type of cancer called mesothelioma.

The UK has some of the highest rates of mesothelioma because of the extensive use of asbestos and the late discontinuance. The number of cases of this cancer has been rising for decades, as has the number of deaths caused by it. Each year for the last few years, more than 2,000 men have died from mesothelioma, many of them working in the construction industry.

Exposure to Asbestos

Asbestos is a natural mineral, mined for its usefulness as an insulator. It resists heat, fire, and electricity, and it is mostly chemically inert. For millennia people have mined this material to be used for many purposes, but with most applications going into construction materials, buildings, and ships.

Contained asbestos is not a problem, but when it is cut, torn, or otherwise disrupted, fibers get into the air. When you breathe in these fibers they can lodge in the lungs and cause irritation, damage, and illness. Construction workers are at risk of being exposed to these fibers in the work they do every day. The biggest risks come during demolition or renovation of buildings that contain asbestos.

Illnesses Caused by Asbestos

Asbestos exposure is a major risk for construction workers. Inhaling fibers of the mineral put these workers at risk for a number of serious health concerns. One of these is asbestosis, which is the formation of scar tissue in the lungs. It does not always lead to death, but the symptoms can be debilitating. Pleural thickening is another potential health problem. The pleura is the tissue that lines the lungs and asbestos can cause it to thicken. This makes breathing difficult.

Exposure to asbestos fibers can also lead to fatal types of cancer. Asbestos-related lung cancer and mesothelioma are both connected to asbestos and both are most often fatal. The longer a worker is exposed to asbestos, the greater the frequency of exposure, and the greater the amount of asbestos inhaled, the greater the risk for developing one of these conditions.

The Problem with Mesothelioma

Any illness caused by asbestos has the potential to be debilitating or fatal, but mesothelioma is particularly devastating. It takes years for the cancer to be diagnosed because symptoms are not always severe until the late stages and they resemble those of other conditions. By the time a construction worker gets a diagnosis of mesothelioma it is typically too late for treatments to cure it.

The biggest occupational hazard for construction workers in the UK is exposure to asbestos. Many construction workers who developed fatal and debilitating lung conditions from this exposure were not told by their employers that they were at risk. Many are seeking read “compensation through asbestos and mesothelioma lawyers“.

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CITB warns apprenticeship levy to cut funding by 30%

September 1st, 2016 No comments

The Construction Industry Training Board has raised grave concerns about the government’s planned new apprenticeship levy warning that it could see funding for construction apprenticeships cut by nearly a third.

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Chiefs at the CITB have warned that contractors may be expected to make up finding shortfalls putting them off taking on needed apprentices.

They are now urging contractors to raise their concerns during the Government’s consultation on the levy.

The Department for Education revealed details of the planned apprenticeship levy earlier this month. Under plans now out to consultation apprenticeships will be graded into 15 new bands with funding allocated in each from £1,500 to £27,000.

Steve Hearty, Head of Apprenticeships at CITB, said: “The Government’s proposed funding bands for framework apprenticeships raise real concerns for the construction industry.

“We support the new, employer-designed standards, because we think they will improve the quality of apprenticeships, and it is encouraging to note that Government state these will be funded at a higher rate than those recently published.

“However, no standards for construction have yet been approved and we are still working under the existing frameworks system and may well continue beyond 2017.

He warned: “Even with the sector beneficial STEM increases to funding the Government’s proposed funding bands will cut funding for construction apprenticeships by between 20% and 30%.

“We are concerned that training providers could stop training or they could ask employers to make up the shortfall in cost, which might deter firms from taking apprentices on.

“We have shared our concerns with DfE and will be doing formally through the formal consultation process that closes on 5 September.  Employers can do the same.”

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M20 bridge collapses following digger on lorry collision

August 30th, 2016 No comments

Highways England engineers and contractors have reopened the M20 after a busy weekend clearing the debris following a footbridge collapse onto the motorway in Kent after it was hit by a lorry carrying a wheeled excavator on Saturday.

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Motorcyclist suffers broken ribs and lorry driver treated for shock

One half of the bridge crashed on to a second lorry on the London-bound carriageway between junction 1 and 4, leaving the other half hanging over the southbound carriageway.

A motorcyclist was hurt whose injuries were described as not life-threatening and the driver of the second lorry was treated for shock.

Witnesses said they felt “lucky to be alive” after the 170 tonnes section of bridge came down shortly after noon on Saturday in busy traffic at the start of the August bank holiday weekend.

Engineers using Ainscough mobile cranes managed to clear the sections of bridge away on Sunday in a fast-track clean-up to reopen the main route to the the Channel Tunnel after severe travel disruption over the start of the Bank Holiday.

The other half of the footbridge has been left standing after been assessed by highways engineers as posing no immediate threat to motorists.

Investigators are now trying to piece together events leading to the collapse.

Repair work was taking place to put higher barriers on both sides of the walkway to stop people from throwing objects over the side onto the motorway. It is not known whether bridge parapet supplier workers from Varley and Gulliver were on site at the time.

Catherine Brookes, Highways England chief engineer said: “While we concentrated on reopening the road as soon as possible to help drivers, it was imperative this was done safely. We are now making the final preparations to be able lift the remaining closures safely. “The 50mph speed limit is being introduced while until work to remove the rest of the footbridge is complete.”

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