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Big Ben safety row rumbles on

August 23rd, 2017 No comments

Safety chiefs have hit back following criticism of plans to silence Big Ben’s chimes during renovation work.

The bell of the famous clock will fall silent for four years to protect workers’ hearing during a £29m restoration of the Elizabeth Tower, the Great Clock and the Great Bell.

The revelation caused a storm in some national newspapers who attacked the move as “health and safety gone mad”.

Sir Robert McAlpine secured the £3.5m pre-construction services deal last year.

An HSE spokesperson said: “We’ve been concerned by a minority of the reaction to the announcement relating to the Big Ben conservation project in London.

“People’s health should not be made worse by the work they do, so it is important that no worker should suffer any hearing loss while working on this project. We find any attempt to trivialise this unhelpful.

“As part of our regulatory role, HSE has liaised with both the client and the principal contractor on this major construction project in central London.

“This has been one of many projects where we work with contractors in the planning stages, and we’ve noted how intricate, complex and challenging this particular exercise will be.

“Health and safety aside, we understand these challenges would have silenced Big Ben’s chimes for at least two years anyway.

“While we were aware part of the project related to the clock, we have not been involved in discussions about how that work will be specifically carried out.

“There is broad agreement that the noise risks associated with working around the clock bells are highly significant and we would expect the principal contractor to manage those risks.

“How it does so is a matter for those involved and their client.”

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Construction Safety In the European Workplace – Perception vs. Reality

August 18th, 2017 No comments

Since the enforcement of the EU Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Strategic Framework in 2014, the numbers of accidents at work have been dropping, suggesting a positive impact on health and safety regulations and compliance at the workplace.

The framework analyzes key challenges and strategic objectives for health and safety at work and aims to identify actions and instruments to address these objectives.

But whether workers actually feel safe at work is a different matter. Perception of safety or danger is none the less a very important question that can have a significant impact on a worker’s performance and well-being at work.

Health and safety consultants Arinite compared research from Eurofound on the perception of safety in the workplace with Eurostat’s recent analysis of health and safety incidents across the EU 28 countries. This is what they discovered.

 

 

 

 

 

Mismatch between perception and reality

Revelations show that actual workplace safety and perceived safety do not always match. Romania, for example, has an incidence rate of 68.9, meaning out of 100,000 workers 68.9 were injured and had to stay off work for more than 4 days (5.5 out of 100,000 on average died).

Compared to other European countries in the survey, that is the lowest rate, followed by Bulgaria and Greece. France, Portugal and Spain show the highest incidence rates.

If you now look at how workers from these countries perceive safety in the workplace, the results are perplexing. Denmark, which scored fourth in the incident rating, now ranks first place, with almost 50% stating they were “Very Satisfied” with their working conditions. They thus having the most satisfied work force in the ranking.

Romania on the other hand, previously having the fewest incidences in comparison, appears to be one of the least satisfied countries, with only 11% saying they were “Very Satisfied”.

Reasons behind the discrepancies

How come the number of accidents at work and the perception of safety do not seem to correspond very much?

Firstly, the feeling of safety can be shaped by many factors, such as job quality, financial security, development of skills or national labour laws.

 

Also, considering the results in Denmark and Romania, the strength of bureaucracy in a country may influence the perception of safety too, as effective and exact incident reporting systems manipulate the ranking. Denmark’s high incident rate might simply be a result of the strength of the Danish accident reporting system, which leads to the assumption that safety is being regarded as a high priority – therefore workers naturally feeling safer.

 

Construction workers seem to feel less at risk when they feel that safety provisions and strong labour laws are in place. Creating a safe work environment is not only a question of compliance, but also of assuring a productive and happy workplace.

The OSH will keep improving prevention measures, implementing existing health and safety rules, and reinforcing coordination with international organisations, like the International Labour Organization (ILO). Social safety nets also need to be strengthened to ensure accidents across the EU decrease further while working conditions improve, leading to a successful relationship between employer and employee.

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What’s next for college leavers this A Level results day?

August 16th, 2017 No comments

On the 17th August, teenagers up and down the country will receive their long-awaited A-Level results. Results day will come as a huge relief for most college leavers after the months of waiting. The day will mark a new phase of their lives; a phase no longer dictated by textbooks and strict curriculums.

 

Young people receiving their results this year have more options than ever before when it comes to choosing a career path. The choice between applying for a job, internship, apprenticeship or going on to further education can be quite a task in itself though.

 

Apprenticeships are becoming an increasingly popular and appealing and offer a unique opportunity to combine practical training with study, thereby enabling young people to get the much needed and sought after, experience, but also the tangible qualifications, readying them for future career opportunities.

 

According to Gov.uk, over 90% of apprentices currently go into work or further training. This high percentage almost certainly stems from the fact that apprenticeships provide individuals with the relevant skills, energy and commitment required for full-time employment.

 

Workplace specialists and design and fit-out firm, Active, has taken on numerous apprentices since they were founded in 1999. Jennie Armley started as a marketing apprentice with Active in 2015, after completing the programme last summer, she was taken on as a full-time marketing coordinator.

 

Armley said “I was keen to get some experience early of working within marketing and Active offered me just that – I could deal with real business problems and continue to learn at the same time. I was convinced it was a better opportunity for me than going to university and it certainly has been!”

 

Adrian Powell, director at Active, said, “The services sector is a great place for apprentices to be able to explore the right career path for them. There is ample room for growth both personally and professionally, as people can move up quickly within their chosen speciality. I would encourage young people receiving their results this week to explore all the options available to them before embarking on the next chapter.”

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INNOVATION – A SHARED RESPONSIBILITY

August 14th, 2017 No comments

There is no doubting the fact that we are living in a global economy and that we are all going through an intense period of change. For many of us, our focus is on our immediate vicinity and surroundings and the issues that affect our customers and business operations. However, there are a number of fundamental issues that affect and drive us all, the world over – financial stability, safety, environmental concerns etc. One area that can directly affect these issues, and more, is innovation.

For most manufacturers, innovation is a critical factor that is equated to their success. It builds competitive advantage and in turn financial stability. It can also improve environmental performance and health and safety, criteria that are at the very heart of many businesses’ operational ethos.

In many instances, product innovation is developed at a local level, often as a result of customer demand or identification of an opportunity. Some innovations are developed at a global level but this poses great challenges with regards to local interpretation, market need, performance expectations and regulation differences. Factors that drive product specification can greatly differ from one country to another, due to issues such as legislation, climate, culture and infrastructure.

As a leading manufacturer of products working across multiple industry sectors (seehttp://bit.ly/2o8Ca6Z) Sika has a robust – and shared – approach to product innovation. The company has created a number of Global Technology Centres. These centres are design to drive product innovation at both local and global level. The UK centre, based at Sika’s Head Office in Preston focusses on liquid applied membranes and coatings, utilising the vast experience that Sika UK has within this field.

Whilst developing products for the UK market, the centre can call upon global market intelligence and the resources of the rest of the group. This helps to advance product development within a network that has the ability to share outcomes and successes around the world, often in turn helping to drive other innovations.

In so doing, Sika is able to leverage the benefits of both centralised and decentralised approaches to Research and Development, responding to local market and customer demands and sharing this advancement around the world. For organisations such as Sika, successful innovation results from the inter-connected nature of broad knowledge networks and the sharing of know how within these networks.

A great example is the recent development of extremely low odour, liquid roof waterproofing systems. Conventional products have traditionally contained significant quantities of organic solvents that can lead to significant odours during application. This can lead to risks of disruption occurring when used on live sites such as hospitals and schools.

Through the development of new technologies, Sika UK developed an ultra-low odour system that established new benchmarks in performance. Drawing upon its significant expertise and longstanding involvement in the UK roofing market, UK developers worked collaboratively with colleagues in Zurich to pioneer and patent novel curing compounds, commissioned specialist manufacturing equipment and worked in close partnerships with colleagues overseas to support successful market introductions across Europe and the US.

As a global brand, Sika has the ability to deliver local innovations on a global basis. To find out more about the impact Sika are making every day, visit http://gbr.sika.com/en/group/about-us/sika-everyday.html

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Gilbert-Ash Awarded British High Commission Project in Ghana

August 10th, 2017 No comments

West Africa project is latest for UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office

26th July 2017: Award-winning UK construction, refurbishment and fit out contractor, Gilbert-Ash, has been awarded a fit out project on the British Embassy in Accra, Ghana.

Set to commence in August 2017, it is the latest international project by Gilbert-Ash for the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) with work undertaken in a total of 41 countries worldwide to date.

Ghana is one of the world’s fastest growing economies and the UK’s fourth largest export market in Sub-Saharan Africa. The UK is a key partner to Ghana and is committed to advancing continued economic development in the country.

The fit out project, the first by Gilbert-Ash in Africa, includes interior and exterior refurbishment of British Embassy facilities in the capital city.

A key aspect of the close to £400,000 project includes fitting and reinforcement of new enhanced windows and doors in key embassy buildings.

Andrew Whitten, General Manager, Gilbert-Ash Fit Out said: “Ghana is a modern, dynamic country and one of the UK’s longest-standing and strongest partners in Africa. As with all our projects for the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, it is critical that the fit out of the British High Commission is completed to the highest standards showcasing UK excellence in design, construction, materials and innovative technologies.

We will be working closely with local Ghanaian companies and so far, our team have been very impressed by the level of commitment provided across the local supply chain for this prominent project. We look forward to playing a small part in transferring some new skills that we hope will also benefit and bolster the growing local construction industry in Accra.”

Over the last decade, Gilbert-Ash has undertaken a broad range of projects in partnership with the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office to refurbish and refit British Embassies, Consulates and High Commissions around the world. Often in environmentally challenging and culturally diverse locations, the company’s fit out team are highly skilled in delivering the highest quality projects on an international scale. To meet high specification standards befitting the UK’s leadership in design and construction, Gilbert-Ash ships many of its fit out materials around the world.

Andrew Whitten added: “With each project we develop for the FCO, we are acutely aware that the High Commissions, Embassies and Consulates represent the ‘public image’ of the UK. We therefore think of the work we do as being a ‘showcase’ for British skills overseas, so we really give the projects everything, both through a sense of company pride and of national pride.”

Working with its strong UK supply chain network, the company recently commissioned the manufacture of the bespoke windows for the British Embassy project in Accra with manufacturing, packing and shipment within a four week timeframe.

With Ghana’s tropical climate, the Gilbert-Ash Fit Out team will be working to complete the project in 12 weeks in challenging 34°C temperatures.

The leading construction company has specialist fit out expertise in a range of sectors including workplace, retail, leisure and restoration. For more information on Gilbert-Ash visit www.gilbert-ash.com

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The Smart Buildings of the Future

August 8th, 2017 No comments

”The
The Smart Buildings Of The Futurelt;/a> by Rubber Bond.

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Graduation Day honours for Survey School’s 2017 top achievers

August 4th, 2017 No comments

A record number of graduates of the TSA Surveying Course were commended for their commitment and hard work at The Survey School’s annual ceremony and presentation, held at Worcester Racecourse.

From the intake of 35 students, ten achieved distinctions and 13 submitted a total of 26 assignments judged to be of A-A+ grade, in terms of technical knowledge and professional presentation.

The recipients of the Best Student, Best Assignment and TSA Vice-President’s Award were also announced.

Jointly sponsored by The Survey Association (TSA) and Leica Geosystems, the Best Student Award went to Paul Cross of Sterling Surveys, who gained an outstanding overall mark of 94 per cent.

Paying tribute to the winner, John Fraser of Leica Geosystems, said, ‘’The award for Best Student is a real achievement, with students required to return, not only high marks in all areas, but to act in a professional and dedicated way throughout the course. Paul is a very worthy winner.’’

For the second successive year the Vice-President’s Award was given to a student graduating from the TSA Surveying course. This year’s recipient was Jacob Sharples of Site Vision Surveys Ltd.

TSA Vice-President, Nick Hampson said that all graduating students should be commended for meeting the high standards required to pass.

Nick added, ‘’A number of candidates achieved high marks over the last two years but Jacob’s consistent professionalism made him really stand out.’’

Declan Meban from WYG Group was presented with the prize for Best Assignment by Harry Bell, President of the Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors (ICES).

The Survey School is recognised by industry and employers as the UK’s premier commercial training centre for the education of land surveyors.  TSA Surveying Course 46 starts on 25 September 2017 and Course 47 on 20 November 2017. For full details on these and shorter technical courses on specific topics, see the School’s website. www.surveyschool.org.uk

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New appointment to the Association of Noise Consultants Board

August 1st, 2017 No comments

Increasing training opportunities in acoustics and continuing to develop professional standards are among the key priorities for Anne Budd following her election to the board of the Association of Noise Consultants (ANC).

Anne joins the leadership team after being appointed at the trade association’s AGM – and is the first woman to be elected to the board in its 45-year history.

 

Throughout her career, which spans 21 years in the acoustics sector, Anne has played an active role in the industry.

 

She is a member of the Institute of Acoustics’ Building Acoustics Group, the Acoustical Society of America and the Women’s Engineering Society.

 

In her position on the ANC Board, Anne is particularly keen to give a voice to the small acoustic consultancy members located in the regions.

 

Anne said: “During my time on the board I hope to represent the voice of the micro-acoustic consultancy.

 

“We face very different challenges to the larger SMEs and multi-disciplinary – in some cases multi-national – firms based closer to the capital, in areas including recruitment and in developing training and education opportunities.

 

“I am looking forward to working with the other members of the ANC board on this and other industry matters over the coming years.”

 

Anne, a BEng Electroacoustics graduate from the University of Salford, started her career in 2000 at Bruel & Kjaer’s headquarters in Copenhagen, where she was an application specialist for the electroacoustics team and product manager for the ear and mouth simulators.

 

In 2002 she joined Professor Bridget Shields’s team at London South Bank University as a research assistant, investigating room acoustics in classroom environments and their effects on children and teachers.

 

Anne’s career then took her north in 2005 to Scotland where, six months after joining New Acoustics consultancy based in Clydebank, she became a director of the company.

 

Today Anne is the company’s majority shareholder, and is responsible for all aspects of its technical work and administration.

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GALVANIC ANODES OFFER 21st CENTURY SOLUTION TO AGE-OLD CONTAMINATION

July 28th, 2017 No comments

The seaside is known to do wonders for a person’s health, but it does nothing for the long-term wellbeing of buildings. The main cause of deterioration of reinforced concrete structures is the corrosion of embedded steel, particularly when exposed to chlorides found in sea water and airborne salts. This impacts on buildings within marine environments such as jetties, ports and bridges.

Reinforced concrete structures are built to last and can generally expect to have a lifespan of about 50 years. However, in areas of chloride ingress the rate of corrosion increases, as does the need for repairs to maintain the buildings. Without professional treatment, a concrete’s surface can crack and spall.

This is caused by passivating iron oxides, which protect the steel reinforcement, being destroyed by chlorides in air and water. The resulting surface debilitation could potentially weaken the structure and leave it vulnerable to serious deterioration – even collapse. This is particularly pertinent to public infrastructure such as bridges, which could be subject to lengthy and costly repairs funded by already cash-strapped local authorities. In such instances, people’s daily lives might also be severely disrupted.

The same applies to jetties, which serve vital aesthetic and operational purpose for marinas and nearly 100 sea ports across the UK. They also offer frontline sea defence, but bear the brunt of chloride’s invasive effects on account of being situated in tidal zones or splash areas.

 

Sacrificial efficiency

Sika was recently selected to supply a concrete repair and total corrosion management system (TCM) to the underside of a dockside quay that had displayed signs of corrosion due to chloride contamination. Sika® Galvashield® galvanic, sacrificial anodes, which are proven to provide long-term protection to high chloride environments, were installed as part of the refurbishment.

The sacrificial anodes, comprising a zinc core encased in a small, cementitious shell, are installed within repair sites to prevent incipient anodes developing, or outside repaired sites to protect the reinforcement in chloride-infused concrete. Easily fastened to exposed steel reinforcement – or into cored and grouted holes in the concrete outside the repair site – the anode’s zinc core corrodes sacrificially to protect the surrounding rebar and prevent formation of new corrosion sites adjacent to repairs. This sacrificial zinc approach is similar to protecting oil rigs & hulls of ships.

All-in-one solution

As there is no need for an external power source, Sika’s galvanic systems are a popular choice for effective, low maintenance corrosion mitigation. Unlike other manufacturers, Sika provides repair materials and coatings as part of a total corrosion management package, because as well as supplying the anode, we provide repair materials and coatings. Once repairs have been carried out to all parties’ satisfaction, we will guarantee the repair system for up to 20 years – an offer unique to Sika.

Galvanic anodes have revolutionised the treatment of chloride-contaminated concrete. It’s a system that is ingenious in its simplicity and effectiveness; eradicating the need for costly, time-inefficient and energy-consuming shot-blast methods of corrosion removal. The anode system is a smart 21st century solution to an age-old problem. It means our weathered, waterfront buildings can stand protected – ‘the seas shall not have them’.

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BUILDING PLATFORM FOR FUTURE GROWTH WITH WEBCONTRACTOR

July 27th, 2017 No comments

Keeping on top of the paperwork generated by even the most straightforward project-based contract with a given subcontractor can prove an arduous task, with various documents coming in and going out throughout the works requiring actioning. Managing this process in a timely and efficient manner becomes increasingly difficult as the number of ongoing projects and subcontractor contracts increase, something we have first-hand experience of at Osborne.

We utilised the services of more than 1,200 different subcontractors last year – from major businesses working on our behalf on a number of projects right down to small, niche companies working on one-off projects.

As you can imagine, processing payment-related paperwork for each of these subcontractors without error or issue is no easy task. That’s why we’re working with Open ECX to build and implement a bespoke system called WebContractor to increase efficiencies.

At this stage, we’re looking to launch a pilot phase on a small number of projects in the very near future. Following successful completion, we plan on implementing WebContractor across the business on all our projects.

For now, all we can say is what we’re expecting to achieve. There are three main reasons WebContractor stood out for us; compliance, fairness, and forward planning.

 

Compliance

Firstly, we want to make sure we comply with the requirements laid out in the Construction Act. We are looking for a way to ensure we don’t miss any timelines for issuing any paperwork for the various types of contracts we enter into, such as payment and payless notices, for example.

Our current processes are insufficient for our future needs and direction of the business. Through the WebContractor system we will significantly improve our Construction Act compliance, with the system providing early warnings and a fixed process to work through for both our and the subcontractors’ teams.

 

Fairness

We’ve signed up to the Fair Payment Charter as we believe very strongly in providing payment on time for our subcontractors to help them with their cash flows.

WebContractor will help us achieve this and also provide all of our valued subcontractors with much-needed transparency, letting them know where their application for payment is in the process.

 

Forward planning

We expect WebContractor will also provide us with additional administrative capabilities as we will have greater visibility of the payment process throughout the project cycle. From a finance point of view, it will allow us to have a better and real-time understanding of our cash flow forecasting, something that is vital in this industry. Moving forward, we would like to expand this solution further to link in with construction industry services and databases such as Builders’ Profile and Construction Line, helping us to be more streamlined and joined up in our approach and significantly reduce the need for manual intervention.

We will also benefit from having a single and uniform way of storing all paperwork and supporting documentation and information.

 

WebContractor has been developed to provide businesses with time and labour savings, helping them to improve efficiencies and compliance with legislation as well as give them the platform to plan their finances more easily and accurately. As a company with construction and infrastructure contracts creating an annual turnover in excess of £350 million, we’re very excited about the size and scale these benefits can bring us not only on our pilot projects but long into the future.

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