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Construction Firms Missing Out On Tens of Thousands of Pounds

December 15th, 2017 No comments

Construction companies in the UK continue to miss out on tens of thousands of pounds of Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credits, according to the latest figures released by HMRC.

The research shows that despite R&D Tax Credits aiming to drive innovation, construction firms’ R&D claims continue to fall behind other sectors with companies claiming a total amount of £45m in 2016.

The analysis indicates a positive trend for construction firms with an increase of 29 per cent in the total value of Tax Credits claimed since 2015, compared to the average for all sectors of 25 per cent.

However, it is still significantly below other sectors such as Manufacturing which secured £860m in R&D tax claims and Professional, Scientific & Technical which claimed back £635m. Furthermore, the average received per R&D tax claim by construction companies was only £64,000.

Overall, construction accounted for just 2.7 per cent of total claims and 1.7 per cent of the total tax benefits claimed.

This research provides evidence that many construction companies continue to miss out on this valuable tax relief initiative, and according to one of the UK’s leading R&D Tax Credit specialist the Momentum Group, this is due to a number of reasons. These include a lack of awareness and not understanding which activities and costs qualify for this purpose.

Momentum Group Managing Director, Tom Verner, commented: “One of the biggest issues with construction companies claiming their full R&D tax relief, is that many believe R&D Tax Credits are only available for traditional research sectors and ‘white coat’ industries.

“Interestingly, the statistics show that SME’s are driving the growth in claims, accounting for 77% of construction companies’ total R&D Tax Credit claims. This is positive for SMEs in operating in the construction sector which need all the help they can get. As a UK company specialising solely in R&D Tax Credits, Momentum partners with construction companies of all sizes to ensure they claim what they are legitimately entitled to.” he continued.

Tom added: “These claims are so important in encouraging companies to innovate and by not taking advantage of this available tax relief, construction firms risk stagnating their growth and restricting their competitiveness which effectively holds back our overall economy. Relief can be in the form of cash, or a reduction in corporation tax liability.”

Momentum has been working hard to raise awareness of R&D Tax Credits amongst companies in construction. The company is successfully working with leading accountants, banks and financial institutions and many others across the UK to raise the profile of this generous tax relief.

The R&D specialists are calling on all construction businesses and their accountants to take action this year to explore this valuable incentive.

For more information on Momentum visit www.momentumgroupni.com

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Artificial intelligence in construction

December 14th, 2017 No comments

Artificial intelligence is improving the way we design and build, creating endless opportunities for us to discover. Artificial intelligence is where machines exhibit their own intelligence through using algorithms to solve problems using inputted data. By harnessing robotics, construction managers can utilise intelligent machines that can perform routine tasks that were once completed by humans, such as bricklaying. Alternatively, AI systems can collate and organise information for engineers to use within project planning and design implementation.

Together with Oasys, we assess the way the construction industry is starting to use AI in order to complete projects that contain fewer errors, less omissions, safer working practices, improved workflows and more on-time worksite completions.

Four factors of construction AI

We look at the four different areas of AI when it comes to the construction industry with Oasys, specialists in building design software:

The starting stage

From the first stages of construction, AI is there to support the planning. Autonomous equipment is considered as AI as it is aware of its surroundings and is capable of navigation without human input. In the planning stages, AI machinery can survey a proposed construction site and gather enough information to create 3D maps, blueprints and construction plans.

Without the help of artificial intelligence, this is a task that would usually take weeks, but now, it can be achieved within one day. This helps to save firms both time and money in the form of labour.

Controlling construction

Controlling the project is important and helps keep everything in the right place – AI is now being used to do this.  For example, workers can input sick days, vacancies and sudden departures into a data system and it will adapt the project accordingly. The AI will understand that the task must be moved to another employee and will do so on its own accord.

Informant

Databases that have an artificial intelligence focus are helping to direct engineers on how projects they are working on need to be done.  For example, if engineers were working on a proposed new bridge, AI systems would be able to advise and present a case for how the bridge should be constructed. This is based on past projects over the last 50 years, as well as verifying pre-existing blueprints for the design and implementation stages of the project. By having this information to hand, engineers can make crucial decisions based on evidence that they may not have previously had at their disposal.

When the construction industry builds tall structures, autonomous machinery is being developed to help drivers remain out of the vehicle whilst it’s working at substantial heights. Using sensors and GPS, the vehicle can calculate the safest route.

After construction

Whether the structure was made for commercial reasons or for homes, AI can be implemented inside too. In the US alone, $1.5 billion was invested in 2016 by companies looking to capitalise on this growing market.

Las Vegas hotel Wynn has said that by the end of this year they will have an Amazon Echo in every room within their hotel. These devices can be used for aspects of the room such as lighting, temperature and any audio-visual equipment contained in the room. These systems can also be used within domestic settings, allowing homeowners to control aspects of their home through voice commands and systems that control all electronic components from one device.

Keeping records

Keeping information about structures and how they were built are important and a BIM (Building Information Modelling) can help you achieve this. It allows you to look back on management decisions and much more.

A conversation can be started by virtual assistants, also known as VAs, as well as providing the information that you need. By combining VAs alongside NFC (near-field communication), VAs can be given additional information to the building itself in real-time from various sensors in the building. For example, if there were structural problems with a building, then VAs could inform engineers specifically where the problem was and how it can be fixed.

The use of engineers, AIs and VAs can help save the construction industry a lot of time when it comes to the expected amount of work. As the future of AI becomes more of a reality within construction, only time will tell how reliant upon intelligent machines we will have to be in order to construct innovative building designs.

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Which listed buildings could be yours?

December 12th, 2017 No comments

Which listed buildings could be yours?

There are many beautiful listed buildings across the UK. There are a few on the market that could become yours if you can offer the right asking price!

Lycetts, listed building insurance provider, have brought to us ten listed buildings which are on sale right now to help you make your dreams of owning something truly unique a reality:

Durham — The Castle

The location: Castle Eden, County Durham

The grade: Grade II

The construction date: 1765

Main features: Fancy hosting a party for all of the extended family? You’ll never be short of sleeping space in this property. Boasting nine bedrooms and 14 acres of land — there’s enough space for everyone! Also find a stone-style wine vault, a palm house orangery and a cupola dome that will remind you of Rome’s Basilisca as part of the property.

Walking inside The Castle, you’ll find more luxurious furnishings. Features include a sweeping staircase, a formal drawing room, a games room and two storeys of fully-furnished bedrooms complete with bathrooms.

The asking price: £2,990,000

De Vere House in Suffolk

Where is it situated? Water Street, Lavenham, Suffolk, CO10

What is the grade? Grade I

When was it constructed? Information not available.

What are the notable features? You could be the envy of all Harry Potter fans as this property was part of the set of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows. The exterior is designed to impress with exposed timbers, herringbone design, leaded mullions and ornate carved timbers.

Inside is not short of luxury either — a stone spiral staircase which comes complete with a carved brick handrail, a huge timber frame, traditional fireplaces and both Medieval and Tudor wall paintings could all be yours.

How much do you need for it to be yours? £995,000

The Old Coach House in Shropshire

Where is it situated? Badger, Shropshire, WV6 7JP

What is the grade? Grade II

When was it constructed? Built in the 18th century, though remodelled in the mid-19th century.

What are the notable features? This property has been around for a lot of history — it was once used as either a coach or a cart house. Today however, the property is host to a granary on the first floor with open shelter below, an oak framed orangery and conservatory, integrated double garages and approximately 0.25 acres of private garden space.

How much do you need for it to be yours? £650,000

Dukes Place in Kent

Where is it situated? Mereworth Road, West Peckham, Kent, ME18 5JH

What is the grade? Grade I

When was it constructed? Early 15th century

What are the notable features? There are exposed timbers and oak doors which are all inspired by the Tudor era. There are plenty of additions that come with this property too — secondary accommodation, a heated swimming pool, tennis courts and a vegetable garden.

How much do you need for it to be yours? £2,975,000

Dalmoak Castle in Dumbarton

Where is it situated? Renton Road, Dumbarton, G2 4HQ

What is the grade? Grade I

When was it constructed? While an Estate called Dalmoak has been around since the Middle Ages and a structure was in place of today’s building from the 15th century, Dalmoak Castle wasn’t built until between 1866 and 1868 by architect Alexander Watt.

What are the notable features? The castle is recognised by many as a castellated mansion house which comes complete with a tall tower. Once you enter the property you are met with a central hall with an imperial set of stairs, the property’s interior also features a drawing room featuring ceiling plasterwork and scagliola columns and a collection of stained glass windows.

How much do you need for it to be yours? £1,700,000

The Mill House in Norfolk

Where is it situated? Shotesham St Mary, Norfolk

What is the grade? Grade II

When was it constructed? Information not available.

What are the notable features? Living at The Mill House, you’ll always be entertained thanks to the Georgian-fronted property’s four bedrooms and collection of outbuildings. Another attraction is its location — set across from the River Tas.

How much do you need for it to be yours? £695,000

Whittington Old Hall in Staffordshire

Where is it situated? The parish of Whittington, in Lichfield, Staffordshire

What is the grade? Grade II

When was it constructed? Built in the 17th century, though extended and restored in 1891.

What are the notable features? Famous as one of the first great houses of Staffordshire, this property is not one to be missed. Key features include a 19th century Jacobean style timber fireplace surround that is heavily carved in relief, a parlour designed with floor to ceiling oak panelling and a stair window designed with stained glass and etched with the motto “WHERE ‘ERE / WE ROAM / AN ENGLISH MOTHER / IN AN ENGLISH HOME”.

How much do you need for it to be yours? £825,000

Hayes Manor in Gloucestershire

Where is it situated? Viney Hill, Lydney, Gloucestershire, GL15

What is the grade? Grade II

When was it constructed? The 16th century.

What are the notable features? The size is an impressive feature of this house. The 16th century manor house is host to four bedrooms and over an acre of gardens too.

How much do you need for it to be yours? £750,000

The Chantry in Devon

Where is it situated? Honiton, Devon

What is the grade? Grade I

When was it constructed? Estimated to have been built circa 1500s, though extended and modernized in 1937.

What are the notable features? A remarkable staircase is one memorable feature of this property. It was once described as a “remarkable staircase of heart and oak” by Richard Polwhele when covering his History of Devonshire.

The property is built from local flintstone and includes impressive features such as an old bread oven and a beamed dining room. Gardens surround the chantry where a thatched summerhouse sits and huge glasshouse. There is also a small stream that borders the property.

How much do you need for it to be yours? £775,000

Wilton Castle in Herefordshire

Where is it situated? Wilton, Ross-On-Wye, Herefordshire, HR9 6AD

What is the grade? Grade I

When was it constructed? Originally built circa 1300, though partly demolished to make way for a house in the 16th century which then became ruinous, and was thus adapted into a reduce house during the early part of the 19th century.

What are the notable features? The location is one impressive feature of this property as it sits across from the River Wye.

Recently the subject of an impressive restoration programme, the Castle features architecture from a range of eras including the Norman, Tudor, Elizabethan, Georgian and Victorian eras alike. It is also home to the spectacular Great Tower, Medieval castle walls and the ruins of a Tudor manor house.

How much do you need for it to be yours? £1,495,000

Sources:

The Castle:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4941734/Grade-II-listed-castle-complete-sale-3million.html

https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1001311

De Vere House:

http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-67510955.html

The Old Coach House:

https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1367638

Dukes Place:

https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1070672

Dalmoak Castle:

http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-65526191.html

The Mill House:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/property/period-property/9821700/Britains-best-listed-buildings-for-sale.html?frame=2459965

Whittington Old Hall:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/property/period-property/9821700/Britains-best-listed-buildings-for-sale.html?frame=2459972

https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1038870

Hayes Manor:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/property/period-property/9821700/Britains-best-listed-buildings-for-sale.html?frame=2459973

The Chantry:

http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-54648563.html

Wilton Castle:

https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1214349

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LARGE STUDENT RESIDENTIAL PROJECT SCOOPS PRIZE

December 11th, 2017 No comments

Redesigning the site of a former Leicester bus depot as a major new student living complex has earned maber architects and contractors Winvic the prize for Large Residential Scheme of the Year at the 2017 ProCon Awards.

 

Lumis student accommodation at Southgates in the city’s Cathedral Quarter, close to De Montfort University, provides 567 bedspaces and a host of other attractions, including a gym, cinema and study areas.

 

The £28.5 million development was developed with client Viridis Real Estate and CRM Student Management, and comprises four blocks around a central courtyard, and took 75 weeks to build.

 

Mark Jones, Winvic Construction’s Director for Multi-Room, said: ‘We are delighted to receive the award, it is a great testament to our client, the design team, our project team and the supply chain for the delivery of such a high quality group of buildings. We look forward to working with the team again in the near future.’

 

Midlands-based practice maber, which was established in 1983 and recently celebrated the tenth anniversary of its Leicester office, provided architectural, interior and landscape design.

 

The practice’s Managing Director, Mark Hobson, said: “It’s great to see our work in Leicester earning another award. This is a terrific development and, for us, an opportunity to employ a full range of the design skills we have in house in Leicester and at our offices across the Midlands.”

 

Architects, contractors, developers and consultants worked together to optimise the use of the 7,500 sq m site, which now provides a 50/50 mix of studios and cluster bed groups of varying sizes.

 

Features designed to minimise long-term energy use include a “fabric first” approach with active energy management, combined heat and power, and uses low carbon energy from the District Heating Scheme.

 

High quality interiors suitable for the student market have been used, including neutral, modern finishes to minimise maintenance and take into account the need for robustness and ease of cleaning and replacement.

 

The central courtyard provides spaces that can be used for quiet study, relaxing, socialising or performance. Features have been introduced to facilitate and encourage interaction between students. An amphitheatre adjacent to the internal social lounge connects inside and out while an area for quiet retreat in the courtyard has sculptural attractive seating.

 

Sponsored by Infrastructure Investments, the award was presented at the annual ProCon Leicestershire event at Leicester City’s King Power stadium. The development previously earned Winvic Construction the silver award for best national site in the Considerate Constructors scheme.

 

For a drone’s eye view of the development, visit

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHGERIHNyVw

www.maber.co.uk

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AVOIDING A VOID WITH GROUT

December 8th, 2017 No comments

Applying grout to steel columns and the like sounds simple in theory, but in practise it is quite a specialist process. As with most things in life, lack of proper preparation will lead to poor results.

Filling the gap that exists between a steel plate and substrate when used to secure columns and machinery requires a grout that is easily poured and flows evenly around the void. This is best achieved by installing wooden formwork around the base plate and pouring into a header box/hopper for continuous flow to ensure an even application and prevent any air entrapment.

With cementitious grout, its long-term success is largely decided at the mixing stage – too much water will affect its overall strength; too little will affect its flowable capabilities. As an alternative void-filler for base plates and such, it’s not uncommon for builders to use hand-applied repair mortar. But this is far from ideal as an even application is almost impossible to achieve, thus air bubbles and gaps are a likely result.

 

Sink the shrink

Any product containing cement will ultimately shrink and create gaps; therefore a shrinkage compensated grout is essential. If applying a grout to a concrete substrate it’s essential to pre-soak the substrate in clean water for a minimum of two hours beforehand. Failure to do so is likely to result in the concrete extracting from the grout, affecting its cure, leaving a potential for cracking and reduced adhesion.

The SikaGrout® range contains high-quality, flowable, cementitious grouts for general purpose or large commercial applications. SikaGrout® 111GP, for instance, meets the requirements of Class R4 of BS EN 1504-6. Pumped or poured, it’s ideal for a number of solutions including machine and base plate-filling, concrete repairs and steel reinforcement anchoring. Specifying the correct quantity and strength of grout is a basic requirement for a quality application, but it’s a simple trick that can sometimes be missed.

 

Expert advice

Specifying the correct quantity and strength of grout is a basic requirement for a quality application, but it’s a simple trick that can sometimes be missed. Sika’s technical team is available to eliminate the risk of such oversights. Our staff have the necessary expertise and product information to ensure correct grout quantity and type for a particular project and are also available for site visits to offer application guidance.

Cementitious grout – once it’s fully cured – can achieve compressive strengths greater than standard C40 concrete. Attempting to remove it from beneath a steel base plate due to specification or application error could result in a very long and costly process. Better, then, to ensure this simple but extremely important task is carried out correctly – which means paying close attention to the product data sheet before the grout-pouring begins. In these instances, there is no such thing as being over-prepared.

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WINTER WARNING

December 1st, 2017 No comments

Winter is coming, and employers need to watch out for the risks that the cold season with its shorter days brings to construction and utility personnel working and travelling outdoors.

 

Vocational learning specialist Develop Training Ltd (DTL) points out employers have a duty of care to protect their employees, even in the absence of a legal minimum working temperature limit. Failing to do so, if it results in injury, could lead to prosecution. Managers should also realise that employees suffering from cold will be less able to do their jobs and may be more likely to make a hazardous error, DTL says.

 

The scale of the risks can range from reduced dexterity with cold fingers to loss of limbs due to frostbite or even death from hypothermia.

 

The first step to prevention if you are an employer or manager is to carry out a risk assessment to ensure you are not putting people in danger. This should take into account factors such as air temperature, wind chill, clothing, protective equipment such as gloves, rest breaks, respite areas such as heated on-site cabins, and the availability of food and hot drinks.

 

The risks posed by the cold are exacerbated by wind chill and wet weather while shorter, cloudier days often mean reduced visibility, which can be a safety risk in operational areas as well as on the road.

 

If suitable steps are taken to plug any gaps following the assessment, this should avoid any serious problems, but it’s still important that employees and supervisors know what do if they or any of their workmates start to show symptoms of a cold-related condition.

The HSE’s relevant recommendations for modifying the work environment include erecting barriers that shield or insulate the work area and redesigning jobs to remove the employee from the area or restricting the length of time he or she is exposed to cold conditions. You can also look at reducing the amount of work and the rate at which it is expected to be completed for the same reason. Introducing mechanical aids may be an option to help employees who are wearing a lot of clothing. If employees are required to wear uniform, it should be evaluated for thermal comfort.

 

When it comes to monitoring employees, they should be properly supervised and receive appropriate training. You may need to consult an occupational health professional for employees who are pregnant, have an illness or disability, or are on medication

 

On the move

 

With winter comes more wet weather, employees on the move should be properly trained to ensure they drive safely in adverse conditions. Driving in the wet can be deceptively dangerous. Useful tips include:

 

  • Decrease your speed and keep your distance from the vehicle in front
  • Keep your windscreen clean to combat reduced visibility
  • Know how to deal with aquaplaning – ease off the accelerator
  • Beware of flooding but if you must drive through, stay in first gear
  • In foggy conditions, give your driving 100 per cent attention

 

www.developtraining.co.uk

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OVERCOME AUTOMATION OBSTACLE WITH E-INVOICING SOLUTION

November 29th, 2017 No comments

With more and more businesses having taken the first key step towards automation (application generated PDF documents), it’s time to discuss the next time-consuming, labour-intensive and error-prone element to overcome’, writes Matthew Jones at Open ECX.

The easiest and most efficient way to send documents such as invoices and orders is via email as a PDF document. Billing systems create the PDF documents and email them directly to the recipient.

This process is now fairly commonplace but marks a major shift in approach from the old, manual processing to the new; automation. The next stumbling block standing between a business and fully-automated, e-invoicing is how to extract and integrate the data into their finance system.

Those businesses that carry out this task via Optical Character Recognition (OCR) may think that the technology is saving them time and increasing efficiencies, but in truth OCR can be just as labour intensive as manual processing. That’s because OCR engines convert the ‘photograph’ – which sometimes has to be printed and scanned first – into data and a human check is required to rectify any mistakes made.

The mistakes are fairly easy to spot, with the example in the photo above showing how the OCR misread “26.19” as “2b.iy”. However, correcting each and every one of these mistakes uses valuable resources and interrupts the automation process, thereby completely removing all the benefits.

The good news is this problem can be avoided through our unique PDF to e-Invoicing solution.  Data can be taken straight from the PDF and automatically – with 100 per cent accuracy – mapped to an e-document structure, matched and validated against organisational documents of your choice, and delivered direct to your back-office systems (shown below) with minimal to no human intervention required; automation achieved.

As this approach is so simple and non-disruptive to any supply chain, supplier adoption rates are extremely high. In fact, 94% of your suppliers when asked will be able to send a machine generated PDF.

And this means benefits to businesses, including reduced costs, increased visibility, transparency and control and increased ability to pay on time.

For more information click here: http://openecx.co.uk/solutions/einvoicing/

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One in Five British Homeowners Buy New Property Prior To Selling Their Existing Home

November 28th, 2017 No comments

Following a recent increase in searches for unoccupied property insurance through its website, a non-standard insurance specialist has revealed that as many as one in five British homeowners who sold a property within the last year made the decision to find and purchase a new home prior to putting their existing property on the market.

 

The dilemma of whether it’s more advantageous to purchase a new home before putting an existing property on the market is a tough one, particularly if that means buildings are going to be left unoccupied for a substantial period of time before being purchased by a new buyer.

 

As part of a new study, the team at www.CoverBuilder.co.uk polled 2,847 adults aged 25 and over, all of whom had sold an existing property and purchased a new one within the past twelve months. All those taking part were split evenly across each of the UK regions and were questioned on how they went about the process of their most recent house move.

 

All respondents were asked if they put their previous home on the market before or after putting an offer in for the property that they now lived in. The majority (79%) stated that they waited to make any offers on new properties until they’d accepted an offer from a buyer, whilst the remaining 21% revealed that they’d given themselves the chance to search for and have an offer accepted on their ideal next home before putting their previous home on the market.

 

More than two fifths (41%) of participants that had waited to make any offers until they’d sold their property admitted to researchers that they wished they’d done things the other way around, as they felt rushed into selling their home. A further 28% believed that they would’ve been able to make a bigger profit and sell their previous property for a higher sum had they waited to put their home on the market after securing their new home.

 

Of the respondents that purchased a new home before putting their original property on the market, 17% admitted to researchers that they’d needed to leave their previous home empty and unoccupied after moving into their next home, and whilst awaiting a sale to go through. Despite this, just 21% took out an unoccupied insurance policy for this period.

 

Finally, in order to uncover the breakdown of how homeowners go about selling their properties in different areas of the UK, researchers analysed answers to reveal which region is the most likely to buy a new property prior to selling their existing home, with the answers as follows:

 

  • London  – 28% (% of respondents from this region that purchased a new property prior to putting their existing home on the market)
  • South East – 26%
  • South West – 24%
  • West Midlands – 23%
  • Yorkshire and Humberside – 21%
  • Scotland – 21%
  • North West  – 20%
  • Northern Ireland -18%
  • East Midlands -17%
  • East of England – 16%
  • Wales – 15%
  • North East – 14%

Rob Rushton, Head of CoverBuilder.co.uk said:

 

“Whilst there are both benefits and drawbacks to finding a new home prior to selling your existing one, there is no denying that it gives homebuyers the time and freedom to suss out the housing market and take the time to find a property that perfectly fits them and their family.

 

“Here at CoverBuilder, we are certainly seeing a rise in customers wanting to make sure they’ve found their ideal next home before hammering that ‘For Sale’ sign into the front lawn. In fact, as it currently stands, 20% of our total policies have been taken for empty properties that are awaiting sales, with the average customer taking this cover out for a length of four months.”

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Tackling Fire Safety on Your Construction Site

November 24th, 2017 No comments

A fire risk assessment is likely to be one of many the site manager must complete and keep on top of. It is a requirement of legislation for the responsible person (employer or persons in charge) to ensure a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment is complete.

This is something which needs carrying out for any premises which are non-domestic. And when you hire 5 or more members of staff, you must have a written record of this. However, it’s still a good idea if you don’t as it acts as proof that you’re fulfilling your duties.

It is necessary to review the risk assessment regularly to account for any changes which may have occurred. You may find this is something you have to complete as your construction site evolves.

New fire hazards can present themselves as the people plying their trade, and machinery, changes. And as the plans rise up from the ground, it’s possible that evacuation routes and assembly points will have to change.

Keeping on top of this means you’re one step ahead and can help to prevent a fire before the issue arises.

The Risks

A fire needs three elements to burn. Oxygen, heat and fuel.

Removing one or more of those elements stop a fire from starting, and will also mean a fire cannot continue to burn.

The first job of a fire risk assessment is to identify these potential sources of ignition and fuel and reduce their potential to cause harm.

Next, you identify the people who are most at risk if there is a fire, and you really do need to consider everyone. Contractors, visitors, security staff, young people, disabled people, those in nearby premises, and a lot more besides.

You must consider all the people who use your site or could potentially become affected should something go wrong.

Taking Action

Taking into account everything you found, you then evaluate, remove and reduce the fire risk, and have measures in place to protection individuals.

For example, this may involve making changes to the storage of equipment, tools, and materials. But it will also involve putting procedures in place to help keep everyone protected, such as a method of fire detection and warning.

You will need to ensure you have measures in place for raising the alarm, whether that’s using site alarms, a rotary bell or gas horn. And you mustn’t forget to have fire extinguishers installed at designated fire points which can be grabbed quickly to prevent a small fire from escalating quickly. It’s best to have water for general fires, foams for flammable liquids, and CO2 for electricals.

And when hot works are carried out, like welding or soldering, ensure the area is clear of combustible materials and that you have an appropriate fire extinguisher nearby.

Record, Plan, Train and Review

It’s good practice to then record your findings and actions taken. Then, with a plan in place, stating evacuation routes, assembly points, and who call the fire service, it is a good idea to ensure everyone is aware of what they should do in the event of an emergency. This may include how to use the fire extinguishing equipment you will have provided.

Plus, after selecting a few people who can take on fire warden duties, they will also need additional training. They will assist in the event of an emergency and also help you to keep on top of your fire safety responsibilities. After all, the more people you have keeping an eye on fire safety, the better-equipped everyone is to prevent one.

Just remember to make sure your fire risk assessment is kept up to date.

To find out more information about fire risk assessments and fire safety equipment for construction sites, visit www.fireprotectiononline.co.uk/site-safety

 

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FORUM STRESSES NEED FOR FIRMS TO RESPOND TO APPRENTICESHIP LEVY

November 23rd, 2017 No comments

Businesses have yet to get to grips with the biggest change to apprenticeships in living memory.

That was the verdict on the Apprenticeship Levy from leading HR and operational professionals in the utilities and construction sector at an Industry Skills Forum, which featured SGN, Siemens, Interserve, Skanska UK, Morrison Utility Services, FCC Environment, Develop Training Ltd (DTL) and Mentor Training Solutions.

The consensus among delegates at the event, co-organised by DTL and Mentor Training Solutions, is that many firms still don’t understand the levy. In some quarters it is widely viewed as a tax, in others managers are simply holding fire on making decisions about setting up apprenticeships given continued uncertainty.

Chris Wood, Chief Executive of DTL, which specialises in the utilities, energy and construction sector, said the forum raised important issues about the need for firms to recognise the implications of the levy and to respond appropriately: “This is a sea change in the world of apprenticeships, and businesses need help to navigate through it. Our role is not only to deliver apprenticeship training but also to advise clients on how to select and train coaches and mentors for their apprentices from among their existing workforce. For many businesses, that will be a crucial limiting factor in how many apprenticeships they can deliver.”

Firms have two years from their initial levy payments, which started in April this year, to draw down funds so many are taking their time before making a decision. However, the way the system is structured means that delay may mean they will be unable to recoup everything they pay into the levy.

Nevertheless, several delegates warned against rushing into setting up apprenticeships, which would typically cost more to operate than would be paid for by the levy. There is also the risk that recruitment standards could be compromised by a race to hire new apprentices.

Instead, firms should look at their business needs – both in recruitment of new apprentices and training of existing personnel – and set up apprenticeships to meet those needs.

Speaking at the event, Simon Yorke, technical adviser at City and Guilds, urged businesses to see the levy as an opportunity. It should be viewed as an investment, he said, and forecast that now that firms have to pay for apprenticeships themselves, they would demand a better return on that investment.

Steven Green, provider engagement manager at Energy and Utilities Independent Assessment Service, said that firms have to work hard to agree new standards for apprenticeships that are replacing existing framework agreements. He encouraged more businesses to get involved in the process.

www.developtraining.co.uk
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