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Personal Protective Equipment: The rise of fake PPE

October 31st, 2013 Comments off

In many industries personal protective equipment (PPE) is integral to employee safety. PPE is equipment which protects the user against health or safety risks at work. PPE can include respirators, protective gloves, protective clothing and footwear and eye protection.

The British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF) makes a hard-hitting statement on the reality of using fake PPE: “buying a fake watch may be illegal but it is unlikely to be life threatening. Supplying fake personal protective equipment (PPE) however could be the difference between life and death.”

What does the law say?

In accordance to the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 employers and the self-employed have duties concerning the provision and use of PPE. Regulation 4 states that suitable PPE should be provided by every employer to his/her employees who may be exposed to a risk to their health or safety while at work, except where and to the extent that such risk has been adequately controlled by other means which are equally or more effective.

The law means that all employees in environments in which they may be exposed to risks should be provided with adequate PPE.

Counterfeit PPE in the UK

Unfortunately, there has been a recent disturbing trend in the rise of fake and falsely certified PPE making its way onto the market. This is a serious problem which could easily result in increased accidents at work. The BBC recently highlighted this worrying trend in an episode of “Fake Britain” showing how the lives of thousands of workers all over the country are being put in danger because of fake safety equipment.

Construction union the Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians (UCATT) have been campaigning to warn construction workers of fake PPE making its way onto sites. UCATT found hard-hats which had found their way on site which could easily be split in two by a person’s bare hands. A representative of UCATT raised concerns that fake PPE is a rising problem as it offers no tangible protection from very real hazards.

Steven Murphy, general secretary of UCATT said: “Purely and simply, fake safety equipment could kill. Construction is already the most dangerous industry in Britain. Workers need to check the authenticity of all safety equipment and if they have any doubts about its validity then they should not wear it.”

It’s likely that many of these products to the untrained eye may look like authentic PPE. Mr Murphy added: “Workers have a right not to be placed in danger, employers must take safety seriously and should not object to anyone requesting checks be made on their safety equipment.”

Avoiding fake PPE

As much of this equipment is hard to differentiate from genuine PPE, when purchasing safety equipment it’s essential to be wary of where items are purchased from. The main culprits of counterfeit PPE seem to be arriving in the UK from cheap auction sites.

To avoid any issues choose good quality products which are CE () marked in accordance to the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002. The CE kite mark signifies that the PPE satisfies certain basic safety requirements and in some cases has been tested and certified by an independent body.

Phil Bates, senior research and technical adviser at the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), said: “The counterfeit market is quite large and has no morals or boundaries. Unfortunately where there is a product there is a counterfeit.

“Most people probably think of Rolex watches or designer cloths and movies etc., but the counterfeit industry will produce all sorts of things including counterfeit aircraft engine parts, so it is no surprise that there is counterfeit PPE on the market, especially when money is tight and organisations are looking to find the best deals.

“Getting the correct PPE is very important as it is the last line in defending a person from injury or even death.  The main advice for making sure your PPE is not counterfeit is:

–                      Buy your products from a reputable company, one that you have possibly known for some time or is a Registered Safety Supplier

–                      Make sure that the CE mark is present on the labelling and that it is clear  and at least 5mm high

–                      Look at whether the name and address of the manufacturer is on the user instructions, and if these instructions are available in English, clearly printed and clearly understandable

–                      Ensure that products meant for high risk activities, such as hard hats, chemical resistant gloves and respirators, carry a four-digit compliance standard code after the CE mark

“If the product is an unbelievable bargain, it probably is unbelievable if the product looks and feels poor quality it might be counterfeit. If in doubt you can ask the supplier if they can provide an EC declaration of conformity. If still in doubt you could contact the British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF) on: 01442 248 744 or the local trading standards office.  Some companies in the UK have been caught out for not knowingly supplying counterfeit PPE (hard hats) and were fined £14,000.”

For further clarification, The Trade Union Congress (TUC) produced a document to help safety representative’s asses PPE which can be found here.

Author Bio: Wynsors world of shoes are a northern shoe retailer, who offer a range of safety footwear design to protect you against the hazards of the work place. To find more information visit: Wynsors

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Construction Work Begins On Eco-Homes In Newcastle

October 31st, 2013 Comments off

Construction work has begun on an award-winning sustainable housing scheme which will bring 76 new eco-homes to the vibrant, Ouseburn valley in Newcastle, on land owned by the Homes and Communities Agency and Newcastle City Council.

ecoThe leader of Newcastle City Council, Cllr Nick Forbes, looked on as the transformation of the former Ice Factory and Heaney’s Coachworks site on the banks of the Ouseburn got underway.

The £14m Malings project – named after Malings Pottery which operated on the site during the 1800s – will see developer Carillion-igloo deliver on its promise to bring low-energy, high-quality and neighbourhood-focused housing to the Lower Ouseburn Valley.

The design by architects Cany Ash and Robert Sakula has received national recognition, having been named winner in the Housing Design Awards 2013.

David Roberts, igloo Project Director, said: “The Ouseburn Valley is just such a fantastic location and a place that we have come to love since preparing our initial schemes here in 2006. The time is now right to pioneer high-quality housing in the Valley with an outstanding example of 21st century living – low-energy, high-quality, neighbourhood-focused healthy living.”

Anne Mulroy, Head of Area at the Homes and Communities Agency said: “It is terrific to see how our partners are transforming this site and creating a new community which will offer so much to the residents. These first homes will provide something that is not only very high quality but as importantly different from any of the existing housing developments locally. The rebirth of the valley as a modern mixed use community is great news for the whole city of Newcastle.”

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GstarCAD8 a brand new CAD software

October 29th, 2013 Comments off

ad_banner_architecture_-1_1_1GstarCAD8 is a brand new CAD software developed over 3 years by Xi’an Gstarsoft Ltd. This platform is powered by a completely new engine and a number of innovative technologies to make its graphic speed and user operation 3-5 times faster while the memory usage is around 40%-50% less than previous GstarCAD versions. The new cad software structure also gives big room for further performance and improvement in the future, possibly making GstarCAD the fastest CAD software in the world.

Gstarcad Features

GstarCAD8 at a fraction of the cost of other CAD software programmes

Standard Version:

  • Allows you to produce high quality 2D CAD plans and elevations.

Professional Version:

  • Has the added functionality of allowing you to produce 3D models.

Dongle Version:

The advantage of a dongle version of the software is that it can be used on any computer at any time.The single dongle allows you to move around and easily switch between say a site computer and an office based computer, and is ideal for people working on their own, or when only one licence of the software will be used at any one time, but on multiple computers.A dongle is available for both the standard and professional versions of the software.

Network Version:

Is available for 10 or more licences.

Academic Version

Is available for schools, colleges and universities. There are further discounts for eductional institutes and all printed drawings are watermarked .

for more information please visit:  Mobile CAD Surveying Ltd

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What does history teach architecture?

October 29th, 2013 Comments off

History is in danger of becoming the study of half-baked ideas.

There is a fair degree of anxiety in architecture schools at present about the teaching of history: we seem to be unsure about what to teach and how to teach it. ARB/RIBA criteria demand that history and cultural context are included in the curriculum; but the case for history in education has not been clearly made. At a time when we are told all knowledge is highly contingent and education is about transferable skills, it’s often hard to justify the study of Bramante or Mies, except as a source book for design studio.

history architectureThe Foundation for Architecture and Education (AE) is a membership organisation designed to provoke discussion about practice and education. The foundation is concerned that Modernist teachers (preoccupied with mechanisation) and the Postmodernist thinkers that followed them have made history rather ‘flat’. If in the studio it is used as an ahistorical tool to inform design, in the lecture theatre it is in danger of becoming the study of half-baked philosophical, psychological and political ideas that fail to address the fundamental concerns of the discipline. Until now all of the AE’s activities have been based in Scotland. Earlier this month the foundation’s director, Samuel Penn, organised an event in collaboration with OSA, the student society at the Italian Swiss Accademia di Architettura at Mendrisio. The subject was the place of history in architectural education and it brought together two women who are both extremely well qualified to reflect on the question.

Irina Davidovici is an architect and historian who studied, practised and taught in the UK. She won the RIBA President’s Award for Outstanding PhD Thesis and taught history and theory of architecture at Kingston University until 2012.

For 14 years from 1979 Micha Bandini ran, with Royston Landau, the Architectural Association’s History and Theory graduate programme. In 1990 she became head of Architecture and Interior Design at the University of North London, where she recruited several young practitioners, including Jonathan Sergison. Her work on ‘typology’ made a significant contribution to the approach of emerging practices in the last decades of the 20th century.

For Davidovici, Aldo Rossi’s The Architecture of the City (1966) and the 1973 Milan Triennale are key influences. Rossi’s maxim that ‘nothing comes of nothing’ formed the basis of her argument. However, she was concerned that the traditional history survey, in which you begin with Antiquity and move chronologically to the present, fails to capture the imagination of new students and would be of greater value for the mature scholar. She argued that historical comparisons pioneered by Colin Rowe (in The Mathematics of the Ideal Villa) and the writing of Siegfried Giedion provided students with a route into an understanding of the key questions presented to the designer.

Bandini shares Davidovici’s position. Her writing on typology suggests the possibility of identifying essential architectural approaches through the study of historical genealogies of building types. However, Bandini was keen to stress that, when it came to the tricky question of who should teach history (the architect or the historian), her answer was ‘both’. The practitioner can give aspiring architects an insight (but not a formula) for the development of a sense of place, myth and memory. The historian provides ‘distance’ from the subject and an insight into the methods of rigorous historic inquiry. For Bandini, the value of historical studies is that they provide the architect with the tools to access ‘memory’, a key component in the poetry of architectural design. She cited Louis Kahn’s visit to Rome as proof of the importance of engaging with the past. However, she conceded that the precise impact of Kahn’s tour is a mystery that could not be quantified, any more than we can describe or explain the creative impulse that gives rise to great architecture.Natural-History-Museum-Architecture

Bandini’s argument that visual memory is the source of creativity draws heavily on Rossi’s autobiographical approach to design. Talking to architect Valerio Olgiati in the Mendrisio café-bar before the event, it’s clear that the idea that the visual experience provokes something in the creative imagination that history in the written word cannot, has purchase among the Swiss. For Olgiati, the collection of  personal ‘references’ (or visual experiences captured in photographs) can, given the right student, lead to the development of a good architect. Of course this approach could lead to the conclusion that what students need is not history, but greater exposure to the autobiographies of interesting architects.

The OSA students, largely unfamiliar with this debate, were fascinated by the idea that there might be a transparent logic to what history was taught to students and when it was taught. If the event served a useful purpose, it was to provoke this next generation to pursue this question in greater depth.

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Lasers and robots explore ancient Rome’s hidden aqueducts

October 28th, 2013 Comments off

With the help of precision 21-century technology, archaeologists are mapping a dozen tunnels that were carved by Roman engineers into the mountains east of Rome in order to supply the ancient city with water

Some 2,000 years after they were hacked out of solid rock by Roman engineers, the aqueducts that brought fresh water to ancient Rome are being explored anew with 21st-century technology.

Archaeologists with specialist caving, abseiling and potholing experience are using lasers, remote-controlled robots and 3D scanners to map the dozen aqueducts that were built over centuries.

RUBBLE

They are working from maps drawn up by Thomas Ashby, a British topographer and archaeologist who explored the hidden tunnels before and after the First World War. Almost a century later, the new breed of explorers is measuring the aqueducts with a degree of precision of which he could only have dreamt.

They are using 3D scanners mounted on tripods to produce accurate images of the inside of the tunnels, which are lined with Roman-era cement so smooth and unblemished, it looks as if it was applied just a few years ago.

Laser “rangefinders” enable the archaeologists to measure the size, direction and elevation of the tunnels, which are dug into the mountains east of the Italian capital.

The mapping effort is being led by amateur archaeologists with caving expertise from a group calledSotterranei di Roma (Underground Rome).

“The Romans were incredible engineers,” said Alfonso Diaz Boj, 52, a Spanish member of the group who led The Telegraph into an aqueduct near the modern-day village of Mandela.

“To slow down the flow of the water they deliberately built curved sections. Teams of diggers would start from opposite directions and then meet in the middle.”

The excavation was carried out by specialist engineers, he added, but the spoil would have been removed by slaves. “Ninety per cent of these aqueducts are tunnels – it was much easier to burrow underground than to build channels supported on pylons above ground,” he said.

But where the aqueducts emerged from the mountainsides into gorges or valleys, the Romans had no choice but to build bridges to carry the water to the next tunnel.

Pick marks left by their tools were clearly visible on the roof of the aqueduct, known as the Aqua Claudio.

Its construction was begun under the reign of the Emperor Caligula in 38AD and finished under that of the Emperor Claudius, 14 years later.

UNDERGROUND

It ran for around 45 miles, from the mountains beyond the modern towns of Tivoli and Frascati.

Other aqueducts extended almost 60 miles from the city. The precious supply arrived at one of the ancient city’s gates, the Porta Maggiore.

Other members of the group are going underground in the city itself, exploring the cisterns, drains and tunnels beneath the Roman Forum with the help of a remote-controlled robot which they have named Lucius.

The six-wheeled “archeo-robot”, equipped with two powerful computers, three high-definition cameras and laser sensors, is able to trundle along narrow passageways which are too small or dangerous for humans to enter.

“It’s not very nice down there and there’s often a build-up of gases, so robots are ideal,” said Christopher Smith, the director of the British School at Rome, an archaeological research institute established in 1901.

“They’re very good for getting into difficult underground areas. There are miles and miles of tunnels beneath sites like the Colosseum, for instance, much of which we know very little about.”

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New Ruggedized Windows Tablet the WinPad IO – 10″ IP65

October 25th, 2013 Comments off

A new Ruggedsied tablet, the WinPad IO – 10″ IP65 Ruggedized Windows Tablet  for external use, now with 500 nit screen rating and Pixel Qi versions.

io-10-front_1

 

This fully loaded tablet is highly ruggedized without being over-sized or too heavy. Complete with every connectivity and data capture option available the WinPad® IO has it all.

There is now a new model with N2600 CPU and 500 nits screen if you just want a brighter screen and also a Pixel Qi  version, see below for more details.

The amazing WinPad® IO encapsulates the new energy efficient OakTrail CPU  platform in a highly ruggedized IP65 and MIL810G proof housing at only 1.6kg.  Combining a sunlight readable display and dual hot-swappable batteries this rugged tablet offers the choice of all wireless radios: WiFi, Bluetooth 3.0, 3.5G and GPS, as well as a range of data capture options: Front/Rear cameras, RFID, MSR, Smart Card Reader and 1D/2D barcode reader.

For more information on this new ruggedised tablet pc WinPad IO – 10″ IP65 Ruggedized Windows Tablet

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Contest begins for places on £5bn Highways Agency panel

October 24th, 2013 Comments off

Highways

Highways

The Highways Agency has formally begun the process of putting together a slate of up to 28 partner companies for its new Collaborative Delivery Framework (CDF).

The new framework will be responsible for up to £5bn-worth of highways work over the next six years, although there is no guarantee of a minimum amount of work to any firm on the panel.

The framework is divided into four sections: engineering design, and small, medium and large construction projects.

The CDF will run for an initial four years with an option to extend for a further two years.

A supplier day briefing presentation was held on 24 September and the contract notice inviting applications is published in the EU Official Journal today.

The CDF’s four lots are:

  • Lot 1 – Professional design and engineering services; up to 12 engineering design firms to be selected.
  • Lot 2 – Medium value construction works with scheme values up to £25m; up to five contractors to be selected.
  • Lot 3A – High value construction works with scheme values from £25m to £100m; up to six contractors to be selected.
  • Lot 3B – High value construction works with scheme values of between £100m and £450m; up to five contractors to be selected.

Examples of the schemes type to be commissioned through the CDF include the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon, managed motorways, conventional widening schemes and junction improvements.

Selected firms will be expected to be able to provide a service nationwide, working across all Highways Agency regions.

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Working with Asbestos

October 23rd, 2013 Comments off

It goes without saying that if you’re part of the construction sector, you’re probably aware of the dangers of Asbestos. It is an insulating material that was used prolifically in a variety of buildings during the 1950s, and is now largely unused as a result of the severe health problems it can cause.

More and more workers are seeking legal advice so that they can gain some amount of compensation for their illnesses. The majority of claims come from workers who have inhaled fibres whilst working in factories and other buildings. The symptoms of asbestos exposure can take anywhere between ten and 50 years to surface, meaning a lot of cases go undetected. There is also a danger when these old buildings are demolished and the asbestos dust is allowed to escape.

If you’re already suffering from an asbestos related disease, it is important that you seek legal advice as soon as possible. Sintons is a law firm that handles a number of personal injury claims in Newcastle upon Tyne. They’ll provide expert advice and endeavour to get you the compensation you deserve.

There are many factories that contain asbestos too. All workers should be provided with proper protection from their employer if they work in one of these buildings. Before you start work, it’s essential you do the following:

Locate the asbestos

The owner of a non-domestic premises has a duty to manage the asbestos that may be in the building. Make sure that you get accurate information on the location, type, and current condition of the asbestos. If you are supplied with vague or outdated information, you can have the building surveyed to determine the risks.

The risk assessment you construct should identify if you can work around the substance. If that’s not possible, it should detail who may be at risk and the precautions you have to take to control any potential danger.

Hire a licensed contractor

If you intend to remove the asbestos from the premise, you will need a licensed contractor from the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) to carry out the work.  Most work on sprayed asbestos coatings, insulation and asbestos lagging will require a licence. Once you have identified the type of asbestos in the premises, you can look for a licenced contractor here.

Put the necessary safety precautions in place

If the work does not require a licenced contractor, you are free to carry out the work once the necessary safety controls are in place. You may be required to carry out notifiable non-licenced work once you begin dealing with the asbestos. This can involve keeping records of ongoing work and medical surveillance.

It is essential that all the workers who are likely to disturb the asbestos are properly trained and provided with the necessary equipment to protect themselves. For more information on asbestos training courses, visit arca.org.uk.

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Atkins renews credit facility

October 22nd, 2013 Comments off

Consulting engineer WS Atkins has secured a new £200m five-year revolving credit facility.

The new arrangement replaces the firm’s existing £150m revolving credit facility and £30m bilateral facility.

Finance director Heath Drewett said the longer term facility provided Atkins with financing to support its strategy.

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The real cost of poor health and safety

October 22nd, 2013 Comments off

By Alex Green, CEO of HANDS HQ, an online tool for creating construction risk assessments and method statements in minutes. Readers of UK Construction Blog can use the code UKCONSTRUCTION for a free month trial.

Looking at data alone, you’d think that construction is becoming a safer industry every year. HSE statistics show that the rate of fatal injury has more than halved over the last 20 years, and employers have unprecedented online resources to help manage health and safety.

But the risks to workers’ health and wellbeing aren’t going away as quickly.

UK construction workers remain nearly four times more likely to be killed at work than the average worker, while an estimated 70,000 builders are suffering from ill health as a result of their work. Falls from height and illnesses caused by construction dust are only two of the many problems caused by lacking health and safety practices.

It’s clear that there’s a problem with regulation infringements, and HSE are taking hardline measures to solve it.

“If we find evidence that workers are being unnecessarily and irresponsibly put at risk we will not hesitate to take robust action,’ said Heather Bryant, HSE Chief Inspector of Construction, last month. “Companies who deliberately cut corners can expect to feel the full weight of the law.”

In September, HSE inspectors carried out unannounced site checks across the country to ensure that high risk jobs like work at height were being managed sufficiently. Although HSE are still compiling data for the month’s inspections, they recently announced that just under 50% of sites had failed.

Compare this to March’s results, where 1 in 5 inspections resulted in enforcement action, and you can see the widespread scale of insufficient risk management.

The implications of a failed inspection or negligence when an accident occurs are expensive, time-consuming and can ruin a business’s reputation. The cost to construction businesses and tradesmen can range from the following:

Fee for Intervention (FFI)

Under The Health and Safety (Fees) Regulations 2012, those who break health and safety laws are also liable for recovery of HSE’s related costs, including inspection, investigation and taking enforcement action, known as Fee for Intervention. This is on top of any civil law cost that could be brought forward if an accident occurs onsite.

Conviction costs

Companies found to be negligent once accident occurs are obligated to pay civil law costs, with the average fine per conviction being £25,381. According to HSE data, construction has the highest number of convicted cases out of entire UK employment sector.

Post legal proceedings

Businesses can also expect a heavy increase in insurance premiums if convicted. A HANDS HQ customer said prior to signing up, he was sued by a sub-contractor for £32,000 because of an accident in which the sub-contractor was injured, despite the customer not being at fault. His insurance premiums skyrocketed from £850 to £4,000 a year. His insurance company stated this could have been avoidable if the customer had completed a risk assessment and method statement showing he had carried out his due diligence.

SMEs drowning in paper work and costs of compliance

Whether trying to comply internally or using an outside consultant, the compliance process can be expensive. A small business in the UK now spends almost one day a month (7.2 hours) complying with H&S regulations and spends on average £4,136 per year and one-man day per month on compliance. A medium size company is spending upwards of £27,000 per year and over a day on their compliance (Taylor, C. [2010]. Health and Safety Reducing the burden. Policy Exchange. London: Policy Exchange.).

Cutting corners with health and safety comes at a huge cost but compliance doesn’t need to be painful.

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