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Archive for May, 2013

A guide to reducing noise levels in construction environments.

May 30th, 2013 Comments off

Working environments, regardless of size or output, can be noisy places. This is especially true in the construction industry, where loud machinery is vital to the success of the workforce and is used on a daily basis.

We require so many equipments in construction like plastic thread protector are used to protect oil from unintentional impact during shipment loading.

In turn, managing and controlling noise levels is an important aspect of successful site management. In addition to ensuring the health and safety of a workforce, the requirements for controlling noise levels are covered by government legislation and guidelines.

What counts as ‘noise’?

If you’re a site manager, or you’re an employer in charge of a workforce using equipment and machinery, regulating noise levels in the workplace is more than a matter of courtesy or maintaining workers comfort. Under the Control of Noise at Work Regulations Act 2005, employers are legally required to take the necessary action to reduce noise levels where possible. For more information on the legislation covering noise levels in the workplace, click here.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is also responsible for outlining the requirements for maintaining the safety of workers, and states that anyone exposed to 85 decibels (that’s roughly equivalent to the sound of traffic from inside a car) should be provided with hearing protection.

Though it’s the tendency to assume that legal requirements only apply to extremely loud noises, these guidelines indicate that regulating noise is a matter that applies to most employers in the construction industry.

Measures to reduce noise levels

Creating noise is an unavoidable and natural result of busy construction environments. And though it’s impossible to completely silence a working environment, taking simple measures can drastically reduce the risk of damage to workers’ hearing, ensuring that your site is in keeping with the relevant laws and guidelines.

  • Protection: Simple and inexpensive measures (like making ear protectors available to workers) are often the most effective method of noise regulation. Companies such as Travis Perkins stock trade earplugs, which offer effective protection when using power tools.
  • Machinery: Loud equipment and machinery is the source of most construction site noise. However, it wouldn’t be financially viable to replace existing equipment and tools with newer technology that reduces noise levels.

Modifying existing machinery is inexpensive and easily achievable. Fit silencers to air exhausts and add material to vibrating equipment to reduce vibration (a process commonly referred to as ‘dampening’.) Building screens around loud machinery will disrupt the path of sound and is another inexpensive way of reducing the noise workers are exposed to.

  • Power Source: After machinery and tools, power sources and generators contribute to high noise levels in working environments. Using an air compressor is an effective way of reducing the noise levels that are produced when generating power for tools and equipment. SIP UK are a leading supplier of air compressors and include silenced compressors as part of their extensive range.

Taking these simple, inexpensive measures is unlikely to disrupt or alter the productivity of a working environment. However, these small alterations will have a considerable impact on reducing noise levels, thereby creating an environment that ensures the safety and wellbeing of workers.


Contract awarded for major construction work to increase Vauxhall Tube station capacity and make it step free

May 30th, 2013 Comments off


in Government News Network newsContract awarded for major construction work to increase Vauxhall Tube station capacity and make it step free
Station modernisation part of the work to support transformation of the Battersea Nine Elms area. Station to become step-free as part of plans for a more accessible interchange.

Vauxhall Tube station will be transformed over the next few years, with a £36m modernisation by Transport for London (TfL) as part of wider investment designed to support the growth and regeneration of the surrounding area.

The modernisation of Vauxhall Tube station is an essential first phase of this strategy, which will provide a major increase in capacity and improve accessibility by making the station step-free, while keeping it open to passengers.

London Underground has now awarded the contract for the major improvements to Bechtel Ltd. Construction work will start in early 2014 and be completed by late 2015.

The number of passengers using Vauxhall Underground station is set to increase by 40 per cent over the next few years.

In order to create extra space, the ticket hall will be reconfigured to allow for more ticket gates and wide-aisle gates allowing disabled passengers and those with buggies or heavy luggage to travel more easily and reducing congestion within the station.

The station, its subways and stairways will be completely refurbished and a lift will be installed between the ticket hall and platforms.

This, combined with the existing lift from the bus station to the Tube ticket hall, will deliver step-free access to Victoria line trains.

Network Rail has almost completed the National Rail station’s upgrade, including new lifts, which are already in operation, so once the Tube station lift is completed it will create a fully accessible interchange between rail bus and Tube.

The total project cost of the Vauxhall Tube station improvements has been reduced by more than £9m from £45m to around £36m because of a more cost effective construction method which also reduces environmental impact.

This includes building a lift shaft from below ground level and utilising sprayed concrete lining techniques, resulting in savings in both utility diversions and construction costs.

The works to improve Vauxhall station are part of TfL’s focus on investing in transport projects across London that will support economic growth including up to 25,000 jobs and 16,000 homes in the Vauxhall, Nine Elms and Battersea areas.

Vauxhall is designated as one of London’s Opportunity Areas, and is set to benefit from huge investment over the coming years – with major developments planned for the Nine Elms area.

This includes projects to extend the Northern line to Battersea, transform the gyratory, make major improvements for walking and cycling, enhance bus services as well as improving the Tube station.

TfL also plans to invest in the area through major improvements to cycling infrastructure – including a protected off-carriageway route to help cyclists cut across Vauxhall gyratory – as part of the building of Barclays Cycle Super Highway route 5.

TfL is also looking at a variety of future options for the roads and gyratory to improve connectivity with the river, reduce the dominance of traffic and make the area more pleasant for pedestrians.

The Government has agreed a loan of up to £1bn that will allow London Underground to fund an extension of the Northern line to the Battersea Power Station site, which will be key to kick-starting regeneration in the area.

It will be a boost for developers preparing to invest and for local people who will benefit from the new Tube link.

The Northern line extension is subject to planning approval from the Secretary of State and once a funding package is in place then the construction of the extension could begin in 2015 with two new stations opening in 2020.

TfL submitted an application for a Transport and Works Act Order, which is required for infrastructure of this scale, on 30 April.

A public inquiry is likely to be held this autumn after which the Government will make a decision.

This is expected by autumn 2014.

David Waboso, London Underground’s Capital Programmes Director, said: ‘Vauxhall is a very busy Tube station, with about 21 million people using it annually, and is set to get busier.

‘The modernisation will make the station step-free, give passengers more space and make journeys through the station quicker and more pleasant.

‘The works, along with other TfL investment in improving the local transport network, will help support the regeneration of the area.

‘Careful thought has been given to the environmental impact of the works and how we can reduce costs.

‘The lift shaft will be constructed from below ground level at the side of the ticket hall to minimise the disturbance in the surrounding area.

‘In addition, the shaft and connecting tunnels will be constructed using sprayed concrete lining techniques, which reduces the amount of excavated materials and associated haulage.

‘This has already produced significant savings in both utility diversions and construction costs.’

Amjad Bangash, Managing Director of Bechtel’s rail business, said: ‘We’re committed to the successful delivery of the Vauxhall Underground station upgrade, to which we bring strong ethical values, an unwavering focus on safety and quality, and a proven track record in delivery.

‘This new contract builds on Bechtel’s previous work with London Underground, successfully managing nearly 100 tube station upgrades, including a significant programme providing step-free access.

‘We look forward to working in partnership with London Underground in its 150th year, its supply chain and our team members Gall Zeidler and Joseph Gallagher.’

The Tube is undergoing a huge and essential programme to renew and increase the capacity of its ageing infrastructure, which is vital to support the economic development and growth of the Capital and the UK.

Investment in the Capital’s transport network is not only driving London’s economy, but also creating tens of thousands of jobs across the UK through engaging contractors and suppliers.

This work will continue to improve performance and deliver reliable Tube services for Londoners – with faster and more frequent journeys, fewer delays and, ultimately, 30 per cent more service across the network


Telehandler overturns at school

May 28th, 2013 Comments off

A telescopic handler overturned last week at a school in Perth, Scotland, ripping into the roof of a building that the contractor was refurbishing.

The telehandler was lifting a long beam which suspended by a short sling from one of the forks when it went over sideways. The unit did not have its stabilisers down and was working on uneven terrain. The machines boom tore through the roof of the building but no one was injured and the occupants of the school had been evacuated in advance.

Main contractor Morrison

P_5dd594bcf8Construction is carrying out a £2 million refurbishment to Kinnoull Primary school and a spokesman is quoted as saying: “These things happen on building sites. Any damage is superficial. It looked worse than it was. The whole site is

The Health & Safety Executive being fully refurbished anyway.”

has also indicated that it will not be pursuing the matter and there was no risk to members of the public. This in spite of the fact that guidance regarding the handling of handling suspended loads does not appear to have been adhered to and those working on site were certainly at risk.

Vertikal Comment

One has to hope that internally this incident was treated with a great deal more seriously than the attitude shown externally in terms of the response to journalists and the public. The HSE must also have taken this incident a great deal more seriously than local reports suggest?

At least no one was hurt this time, and hopefully the contractor has taken note of what happened and made changes to working practices with its telehandlers.



Travis Perkins donates materials to centre

May 24th, 2013 Comments off

A building firm has donated £1,000 of materials to a rehabilitation centre.

Travis Perkins in Oakham handed over timber and gravel to Wing Grange.

The materials will be used by the residents at the centre, many who are rebuilding their lives after time in prison, to build surrounds for displays for the annual Oakham in Bloom contest.

Branch manager of Travis Perkins Adam Lowe said he was delighted to be able to make a contribution towards such a worthwhile initiative.

Project manager Bruce Harrison thanked Travis Perkins on behalf of all the residents for enabling this excellent project to get under way.

Rutland MP Alan Duncan was present at the handing over of the materials,



Government ‘saved bacon’ of builders

May 23rd, 2013 Comments off

THE outgoing chairman of trade body Homes for Scotland has credited the Scottish Government for having “saved our bacon” during the recession, which decimated small to medium-sized housebuilders.

Andy Pearson, who is also the managing director of Tweed Homes, added that he doesn’t expect a repeat of the pre-2007 housing market “bubble” any time soon.

He said: “The face of housebuilding will change. I really don’t see the bubble returning. Banks have learned many painful lessons.”

Pearson handed over the reins to the next Homes for Scotland chairman, Jim Preston, who is the managing director of Glasgow-based construction services company Veitchi Group, at the trade body’s annual general meeting on Friday.

The 96-year-old Veitchi only launched its housebuilding arm in Aberdeen in 2010 when it hired former Cala director Raymond Tedeschi.

The trade body last week hosted Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as its keynote speaker. She used the occasion to unveil a £120 million boost for the housebuilding sector, where the funding will be used to support people who buy new-build homes on a shared equity basis.

The money, part of the Barnett consequentials from the Chancellor’s Help to Buy scheme announced in the most recent Budget, will be available over the next two years to both first-time buyers and existing homeowners.

The programme adds to Scottish Government residential property support including shared equity schemes aimed at low-income groups and the MI New Home mortgage indemnity scheme, a Homes for Scotland and Scottish Government project which helps those with small deposits to buy new homes worth up to £250,000.

Pearson, whose company Tweed Homes builds in the Borders, said the recession has been particularly difficult for SMEs in the sector.

“It has been a rough ride. In the last two years in Scotland we have built just over 15,000 homes – the lowest figure since 1947. We built more homes in the first year of the Second World War.

“It has been very challenging for the smaller to medium-sized builders, because 90 per cent of the homes were built by just six or seven companies.”

His firm, which built on average about 40 homes a year up until 2007, “did not sell a single property from March 2008 to May 2009”, he said.

Government initiatives, such as an acceleration of social housing investment in 2009-10; the National Housing Trust, a programme financed by the government’s Scottish Futures Trust; as well as a range of shared equity schemes were helpful, he said.

“We started building affordable homes and we had a good seam of work from various government initiatives that saved our bacon. Without that assistance we wouldn’t be here today,” said Pearson.

He added that Homes for Scotland now has a “record” 190 members after it widened its membership to registered social landlords. The group has 96 members which are housebuilders.



May 21st, 2013 Comments off

With repeated calls from the government to reduce carbon emissions in order to meet targets established for the future, the construction industry has become a focus for introducing and implementing new methods of technology in an effort to reduce the country’s carbon footprint.

In a statement published by Liberal Democrat Voice, Energy Secretary Ed Davey indicates that the government has ‘tripled the investment available for low-carbon energy generation to £7.6 billion’ and highlighted the government’s introduction of the Green Deal which ‘looks set to transform the energy efficiency of people’s homes.’

The government’s Green Deal was established with the intention of reducing existing carbon levels by 80% by 2050 through improving the energy efficiency of homes and buildings throughout the UK.

Speaking to Cut the Carbon, Mr Davey highlights the importance of training construction workers in modern methods of technology and installation which will increase the energy efficiency of new and existing buildings. He emphasised the importance of renewable heat; especially heat generated through ground-source pumps. Installation into residential properties can save UK families a huge amount of money and prepares traditional homes for the renewable energy demands of the future.

A recent government report suggested that given that ‘three quarters of the homes which will exist in 2050 have already been built, the key challenge to the industry and Government is the existing stock’. This suggests that the improvement of existing homes is vital to meeting reduced emission targets. More information on the government’s plans to reduce carbon levels in construction can be found in the full report published by the Innovation and Growth Team.

The Gentoo Group, based in Sunderland, Tyne and Wear has expressed a commitment to reducing carbon levels in the construction of new homes in the North East, in addition to the group’s £396 million modernisation plan across existing properties in the North East.

The group were recognised by the Building Excellence Awards 2013 for their outstanding and innovative standards of construction and design. In addition to building homes using more efficient and sustainable material, the group continues to install energy saving methods such as cavity wall and loft installation, and triple glazed windows to older properties in the region.

Maintenance such as a cavity wall installation and newer, efficient boilers is also having a positive impact on the financial status of North East families. According to the Energy Saving Trust, a typical home can save around £300 per year on bills with additions like cavity wall insulation. Ian Porter, managing director of Gentoo Sunderland, had emphasised the groups desire to help individuals reduce their household bills by offering homes that are energy efficient and help people save money, adding that this is especially relevant in the current economic climate.

Gentoo’s efforts have also led to a relationship between the group and utility provider, EDF Energy, which has also established its intention to reduce carbon emissions and individual spending. As part of the governments Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP), EDF embarked on a three year programme to deliver energy saving measures to its customers. The utility providers has recently announced that it has met all of the targets that were set as part of this programme.


Hard evidence is what the industry needs

May 21st, 2013 Comments off

Working out the ‘multiplier effect’ of construction’s benefit to the wider economy was one of the best decisions the industry has taken in recent years – but politicians and the industry alike need to have the confidence that the numbers remain applicable.

Great news then that new research commissioned by the Civil Engineering Contractors Association and carried out by the well-respected Centre for Economics and Business Research has concluded, among other things, that for every £1 spent on construction, the benefit to the wider economy is £2.84.

Indeed, it seems such a coincidence that the figure is exactly the same as the one that similarly well-respected economists LEK came up on behalf of the UK Contractors Group four years ago, that the CEBR has specifically referred to the fact that the multiplier has been reached independently.

It’s a powerful statistic that has been very well deployed by the industry and is therefore already well-known to politicians. An update verifying its validity in 2013 is most useful.

What’s more, the convergence lends additional weight to the report’s wealth of other data on the specific benefits that investment in infrastructure brings, including the calculations that for each £1bn increase in infrastructure investment, UK-wide GDP increases by £1.3bn and that with every 1,000 jobs that are directly created in infrastructure construction, employment overall rises by 3,053 jobs.

With the government’s spending review only seven weeks away, these figures are timely. The chancellor knows how important construction is – which is why he’s taken the time to tell Construction News twice so far this year about his plans to move away from what he describes as the cyclical ‘feast to famine’ approach of the past.

The data contained in CECA’s report suggest there’s little that’s cyclical about it – it’s straightforward decline. What matters now is to reverse the trend.

CECA’s report doesn’t just highlight the benefits of huge infrastructure projects such as High Speed 2 or Crossrail; it also quantifies the benefits of allowing local authorities to borrow money to spend on roads repairs and maintenance.

This large and small, national and local focus, combined with the stark reality of how far the UK lags behind other countries, is a warning shot across the bows.

The benefits of investment are clear, and the risks of not doing so are too.


How will Crossrail benefit London?

May 20th, 2013 Comments off

Crossrail is one of the most significant major construction projects to take place in the UK in recent years. Changing the face of the city’s transport network, Crossrail is a new suburban rail service for London and the south east. It will provide a direct connection between London’s major business centres and the commuter areas to the east and west of the city.

With the capital’s population set to rise to over 10 million in the coming years, commuters will hope the construction Crossrail can help relieve the pressure on one of the busiest transport networks in the world. Scheduled to be operational in 2019, I have had a look at the main benefits of the new heavy duty rail service.

Reducing overcrowding

The new service will ease the overcrowding on existing tube lines and tail routes, providing a 10% increase to the total capacity of London’s public transport network. Increasing the number of cars per train from 8 to 10 will give commuters more space and make rush hour travel a less traumatic experience. Each Crossrail train will be around 200 metres long and should be able to accommodate up to 1,500 passengers, with an estimated 200 million people using the service every year.

Quicker journey times

Crossrail will deliver several new train services and reduce journey times between many stations. For example the journey time between Ilford in the east to Heathrow in the west will be reduced from 70 minutes to 51 minutes, whilst up to 24 trains an hour will travel between Paddington and Whitechapel during peak times. There will also be an increase in the frequency of train journeys every day, with the number of trains during the morning peak increasing from 16 to 18 per hour.

Better connectivity

Crossrail will provide easier and more direct travel across the capital with new underground and overground lines. Several interchanges with 6 existing underground lines will also improve access to various parts of the city .9 new stations are being constructed at locations including Paddington ,Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon, Liverpool Street, and Canary Wharf. The new station development will also connect 28 existing Network Rails stations to 21 kilometres of new train tunnels running under central London.

Economic benefits

As well as dramatically cutting journey times across the city, the system has the potential to deliver significant economic benefits to London, the South East and the rest of the UK. Crossrail will support regeneration across the capital as the new station developments and transport links enhance the surrounding environments and support new developments. The project is the biggest of its kind in Europe and has already created thousands of jobs, whilst providing a significant boost to the UK construction industry. Some economic forecasts predict that the project will add up to £42billion to the country’s economy.

We will have to wait a few more years to find out how successful Crossrail will be, but already plans are being made for a second Crossrail network that will run from Wimbledon in the South to the north of London and Hertfordshire. With population growth continuing steadily, London looks set to benefit from of a much needed increase in its public transport capacity.

BPM Group are one of the UK’s leading providers of building services to the construction industry. To learn more about how BPM group can help you call 0161 248 4639 or email



May 17th, 2013 Comments off

Happy Workforce

It goes without saying that a happy worker, is a hard worker. Putting in the necessary steps to ensure that your construction site meets the needs of your workforce will undoubtedly increase productivity and efficiency levels. Nic Marks of the New Economic Foundation argues that “people who are happier at work are more productive – they are more engaged, more creative, have better concentration”. Taking the simplest of steps to keep your workforce satisfied and happy will contribute to the productivity of all construction sites, and simultaneously ensure that you will be complying with the relevant legislation and health and safety regulations.

In England and Wales, 2007 saw the ban on smoking in public spaces enforced, which naturally encompasses the workplace and construction sites. Smoking in the workplace can quite literally divide a workforce and it is vital that the needs of both smoking and non-smoking workers are adequately met. It also important that your site is compliant with the legislation and guidelines surrounding smoking in the workplace, for which further details can be found here.

While it is important that the needs of all workers are taken into consideration, with regards to smoking, the focus needs to remain firmly with non-smokers. Employees and site managers must take the adequate steps to ensure that an appropriate space is allocated for the use of smokers, whilst ensuring that second-hand smoke is not going to cause a nuisance or a health hazard to other members of the workforce. Hiring a smoking shelter for the duration of a building project, such as those provided by Bespoke Shelters (who specialise in construction site smoking shelters) will satisfy the needs of all workers, whilst ensuring that your site is complying with the relevant legislation.

Toilets. Every worker needs to be able to access one and although a building site throws up the obvious problem that there may not even be a toilet, again employers and site managers must take the necessary steps to ensure the appropriate facilities are made available. Specific legislation is also relevant with regards to toilet facilities. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) outlines the specific requirements for toilets in the workplace, based on the number of workers and whether the workforce is all male or of mixed gender. Further details of these requirements outlined by the HSE can be found here.

Depending on whether you’re working in England and Wales or in Scotland, the guidelines can vary. HSE requires that Scottish construction sites are legally obliged to provide hot wash portable toilets, which companies like Nixon Toilet Hire offer as part of their portable toilet hire range. The firm also stock chemical toilets, which can be used when mains access is not available and are the natural solution to the problems that are thrown up by working on a construction site and will adequately comply with regulations outside of Scotland. Providing access to a clean and functioning toilet is a basic necessity, but one that is vitally necessary to the wellbeing of your workforce.

Taking into consideration the most basic of individual needs takes little time and little action. Nevertheless, such simple measures will dramatically increase the satisfaction and wellbeing of a workforce, leading to better results and success.


BRE seeks new ideas in China

May 16th, 2013 Comments off

BRE is encouraging UK construction businesses to come forward to showcase their most innovative and sustainable technologies in a new eco-city in China whose developer it is working in partnership.

Suppliers from the UK and elsewhere in the world could have their technologies featured in the Sustainable Building Exhibition Centre in the £6bn Meixi Lake Eco-City, a new community being built by Franshion, one of China’s biggest state-owned developers.

The exhibition centre itself is designed to be an exemplar of sustainability and low carbon construction, built to both BREEAM and China’s 3 Star green building standard. Called the Living Lattice, the £20m flagship building is designed by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios with local detailed design by the Shanghai Research Institute of Building Science (SRIBS).

The building is intended to show best practice to a wide audience and to communicate the vision for the eco-city, which comprises nearly 15m sq m of development, and will eventually have a population of more than 300,000.

BRE director Jaya Skandamoorthy said: “This is a significant opportunity for businesses to promote their innovation and expertise to a massive and highly influential developer and wider audience in China. BRE wants to hear about the most exciting technologies out there for what promises to be an extremely high profile project. ”