CIC Blog: 2017

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Climate Change & Project Managment: Re-Thinking the Relationship

Peter W.G. Morris

Emeritus professor of construction & project management

University College London (UCL)

Climate Change is one of the biggest challenges facing mankind, but what is the profession of project management doing about it? There are important exceptions but by and large the profession is fairly quiet on the subject. In my new book just published by APM (November, 2017), Climate Change and what the project management profession should be doing about it – a UK perspective, I argue that project management has a potentially significant role to play in reducing the causes and consequences of Climate Change.

I begin by noting the difference between Sustainability and Climate Change. Sustainability has become a catch-all for actions to do with saving the environment. It actually refers to the capacity to endure. Climate Change speaks to a broader, more urgent, potentially catastrophic set of factors. Over the last 10 years Climate Change has become increasingly accepted as a critical challenge to our world and to us, its passengers.

I begin by listing the effects of rises in the Earth’s ambient temperature above pre-industrial levels of 2, 3 or 4 or more degrees Celsius. The impact will be significant and dramatic yet, although there was jubilation the UN meeting in Paris 2015 where specific targets were agreed, actions to address how they would be met were left to individual countries. Follow-up is being done in a very weak and decentralised way. The project management profession, as the major discipline for managing change, should surely have something to contribute that addresses the situation more effectively. After all, over 20% of GDP is organised on a project basis. It's partly our own fault: there is next to nothing in the literature on how project management can help ameliorate the causes or consequences of Climate Change.

Thinking of what can be done, two fundamental practices seem missing:  We await the opportunity to explore with the UN how these practices can be deployed. The situation technically is not unlike the Apollo Moon program of the 1960s. The energy there was focused and managed. With Climate Change we have yet to organise as effectively.

But it's not as though nothing is being done. In fact, project, program and portfolio management is already working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the primary source of temperature rise, in all kinds of ways. Buildings are being modified; new products are being introduced; fresh policies and regulations are being applied. Behaviours are key.  Unfortunately however, the behaviour changes required to achieve the UN targets are so major that one must doubt whether the goals are realistically attainable.

But the profession can help in other ways. We can help by managing projects that will deliver new forms of mitigation, for example fusion based electrical power generation and carbon capture and storage. These are still a long way off however: the R&D required is enormous and the track record of achievements to date, worryingly slight. Renewables offer an attractive alternative but rarely exceed 30% of the power supply mix. This is considered too low, at least by the British Government, and in the UK at least we are thrown back on nuclear fission, and gas. But again, project management is not delivering as hoped – often as result of technology, as with the recent collapse of Westinghouse and as potentially, I believe, with Hinkley Point C with the government's procurement strategy resulting in highly risky technology being used).

In fact, in the built environment as a whole, the roles of the sponsor and other stakeholders are central, whether for big projects or for portfolio-type decisions, as, for example, in addressing flooding. Thus, managing the institutional contexts within which projects and programs have to operate often requires a new type and level of skill. In effect, the book advocates a model of project management that involves a more probing, creative, front-end oriented approach – an approach fit for tomorrow’s challenges as well as today’s.

There are plenty of opportunities, and needs, for project managers and the project management profession to stand up, claim the right to direct and influence activities, and perform and contribute to the development of a lower emitting world of greenhouse gases. But to do that many of us will have to stand up and be counted, making difficult decisions, and suffering adverse commentary. Looking at your children and neighbours, one can't doubt that this is the right thing to do: it's the only game in town. Let's act professional and play hard before they take our pitch away.

Contributor: Peter W.G. Morris is emeritus professor of construction and project management at University College London (UCL). He was head of UCL’s Bartlett School of Construction and Project Management between 2002 and 2012. During this time, the school tripled in size.

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One Building Surveyors honest view of how things aren’t progressing

Bairbre McKendrick

Building Surveyor

Bradley Mason LLP

The BEPE project aims are clear, more training and education is need to improved inclusive design knowledge and skills would make a positive impact on the work surveyors and designers produce.  This in turn has an impact on the independence of building users whatever their access needs may be.  But is the scale of the problem bigger than envisaged? And is the willingness of some working in the industry to upskill and change how they work lacking?

When I started my journey into the area of Inclusive Environments it was 1997 and I was working for a major retail bank that had a profile and reputation to protect and enhance.  The British Banking Association provided us with guidance and the business was committed to respond to the ‘new’ legislation; the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.  All areas of the business were responding; changing ATM’s and developing telephone and then internet banking.  Budgets were of course an issue and works were phased while in some urban areas providing a number of accessible branches i.e. not all was thought to address our duties as a Services provider.

I left the bank in 2005 and can see no evidence of an access improvement programme continuing, indeed sadly closure programmes seems to be prevalent. In a small town near where I live Natwest, HSBC and Barclays have all closed and the vital services provided by the post office, which are also under threat, must certainly be protected. Back in the late 90’s the Post Office was one of the larger service providers to go out and spread the word that access must be achieved across their network, designing  a wheelchair accessible counter unit. However, my local post office which relocated about 3 years ago is now in a building with stepped access and has a wooden ramp which they use as and when needed – their previous location had level access. This unfortunately all points to the Post Office neglecting their commitment to access.

Is anyone currently procuring retrospective access projects for example relocating entrances to a level area, enlarging doorways and fitting automatic door gear?  Are occupiers seeking accessible units? I would advocate that all service providers write this requirement into their policies and when their typically short 5 year leases are up for renewal they use this to relocate to a more accessible unit or negotiate with their landlord to make the necessary improvements to their current unit.   I recently read some letting particulars for a city centre office building with retail at ground level. Mention was made of ‘DDA complaint’ toilets. This tells me letting agents haven’t noticed that the DDA was absorbed into the Equality Act in 2010 so is no longer with us and indeed their clients haven’t noticed or don’t care.

The lack of well publicised relevant case law has meant that businesses have left their access projects to gather dust. The deadlines which the DDA set out were easy to grasp and like the Millennium bug the fear of the unknown meant that resources were committed to the project. Now there is no urgency and little or no interest.  My downbeat assessment is that the strategy of ‘doing nothing’ is seen as low risk and this wins the day. However, as the evidence provided to the Women and Equalities Committee earlier this year in their Inquiry into Disability and the Built Environment demonstrated – disabled people still face challenges when accessing and using homes, buildings and public spaces. This constitutes ‘an unacceptable diminution of quality of life and equality’ – not good news for the construction industry more than 20 years after the DDA made discrimination illegal.

I would like to be more optimistic in relation to new schemes but again the evidence is that old habits die hard. Why are designers still wedded to the notion that all handrails must be brushed stainless steel and WC cubicle doors should be hidden along a wall of usually white glossy panelling?  Public seating which should be for all is another area where standards are ignored.  

Where designers are proposing such schemes and Approved Inspectors are appointed I feel strongly that the latter should not be shy in pointing out the failings that contravene Approved Document M (ADM). I spoke to an Approved Inspector recently on this issue and they confirmed that they had tried to enforce ADM - they raised the lack of visual contrast in a toilet. ADM paragraph 5.4 k requires; “the surface finish of sanitary fittings and grab bars contrasts visually with the background wall and floor finishes, and there is also visual contrast between wall and floor finishes”.  The Approved Inspector asked that the walls be redecorated but said they were left with the impression that at the next redecoration this would be undone.

Maintenance is the poor relation in property but if this is undertaken without care and attention then the original design is compromised and any good access features can be lost. Every time you can’t take the lift as it is out of order consider how lucky you are to be able to use the stairs. When an access platform is out of order a wheelchair user is excluded from the building. Yet such features may be chosen as a solution without suitable consideration given to maintaining this feature and the associated costs. Educating building managers is a must; they are on the ground and see what is and is not working; but if all their choices are made based on costs then access will be relegated to ‘nice to have’ status. Businesses are losing out however, as disabled people will take their purple pound (estimated at £249 bn) and spend it elsewhere.  

Contributor: Bairbre McKendrick is a Building Surveyor for Bradley Mason LLP

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How can we lower suicide in Construction?

Andy Dean

Managing Director

BS2B 

If you're reading this then congratulations you are about to enter the realms of supporting your mental wellbeing, being able to better resource yourself, increase productivity, meet the deadlines and have healthier handovers. All that, and enjoying a happier life too!

When the hours are stacking up, the margins are getting tighter and with the pressure increasing, how do you manage the stress this causes? How do you not take this home with you? And equally how do you not take the stresses and strains of home life to work?

Well, good news, the impact this is having on the mental wellbeing of our industry's workforce is finally being recognised. 1 in 4 of us will have a mental health issue during the course of the coming year. More than half of those in the trade - 55% - have suffered mental health issues, more than double the national average according to mental health charity Mind. So, look around you and start counting. What that really means is there are a lot of people who for some reason can't, won't or find it hard to talk about what's going on for them. They are not able to share how they are feeling because there's been little or no support in construction.

Three in ten, 29% of construction workers have taken time off due to stress and similar issues but only 32% of these told their boss the real reason for their absence.

Back in September 2016 I was interviewed in London by the Financial Times on the suicide percentages rates within the construction industry. The statistics show the suicide rate is the highest of any trade in Britain – it's 63% higher than the national average!

I found it interesting that the Government launched a scheme for the younger generation through a National Citizen Services program this provides information on mental health that offers services for young people to support and help improving their mental wellbeing. This could lead to a whole generation of people being able to talk about the struggles and challenges they face in their day-to-day life in a more open and honest way.

The challenge we face in our industry is how we build an environment where we can talk about our inner wellbeing, 'our feelings' open and honestly. There are plenty of tools that make life easier on the outside but where do we find the tools that make life easier on the inside?

We have a chance to draw up a new set of plans for this one, creating a culture change in our industry where the stigma around sharing how we feel, talking about our wellbeing, our feelings isn’t seen as a sign of weakness and not being able to cope.

How ridiculous is it?
Why would young people be attracted to working in an industry that suffers from a perceived macho stereotype and a put up and shut up attitude. Surely, we in the industry have a responsibility not just to ourselves but to those inheriting it to create a legacy and a working environment that sees, hears and values the person and not just the job role.

When we look back over the last fifty years construction has suffered both up's and down's, boom and bust. From the mid-1960s to the current day there has been a continuing increase in deindustrialization, which will continue to challenge the construction industry. Building methods have changed, technology has changed, the workforce has changed, but predominantly the attitude towards mental wellbeing in construction hasn’t. Surely now is the time for a culture change.

I know the stress, suffering and hardship those individuals working in construction during the down times went through, I was one of them. I lost friends to suicide and saw the impact it had on their families and friends. What support was there for them? And I can understand how those circumstances created and shaped our current culture and working practices of today.

So, what do we need to learn from history?
Well, in 2017 we have to understand that if we only focus on job roles and productivity without supporting the inner wellbeing of the individual, we will continue in creating an undervalued and unsupported workforce and an industry where you’re only as good as your last job.

What is self-awareness and mindfulness all about?
We want to do this because it will create a better industry a bigger industry, make it a place where people want to come to work because they feel supported, feel seen heard and valued. Lets' all create a better work-life balance and understand the positives that creates by looking after each other together.

Benefits of Mindfulness
If we continue to create an ever more stressful working environment that people survive in rather than thrive in, will not encourage new people into the industry and stop skilled people leaving. Either leaving voluntarily, because of the pressure, a breakdown or even worse suicide. The job role has to include the whole person, of course there are going to be challenges and stressful days, stressful weeks but what is most important is how we manage those times? Traditionally the industry hasn’t given enough support or been given enough in way of support to make a real difference. But, this is changing. There are those within the industry that are taking on the responsibility of creating and providing support.

Mindfulness and Self awareness are the foundations to build on, to meet the challenging experiences both in our personal and professional lives. The word 'Mindful' in Latin is a derivative from 'memor'. Which is a theory on 'man being more' grateful thankful thoughtful. The word self-awareness is a derivative ‘conscientia’. So your conscience or knowledge, or remorse, is key factors to becoming self aware

Contributor: Andy Dean heads up BS2B a not-for-profit training organisation, founded by builders, company owners, developers and therapists with a combined experience of 130 years in construction. This gives BS2B an expert understanding of the industry’s language, challenges and needs. BS2B run an online Self-Awareness Course which focuses on promoting mental health through Inner Wellbeing tailored to the industry.

 

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How can we hand over projects better?

Owen Anthony, Project Manager and Daniel Nicholls, Research Manager, APM

Posed with the question how can we hand over projects better?  Handing over projects from the project phase to the business as usual environment is often perceived as the end of the job by project practitioners and the start of the job by the end users who will be assuming the management responsibility afterwards.  This view makes a number of assumptions with project handover being an often neglected area for project management which given that it affects a multitude of projects across all business sectors makes one wonder why there is so little coverage of this topic to date.

How do we improve the transition of a project from the project team delivering in a project life cycle to the end users’ business as usual activities, to ensure the realisation of the benefits the project set out to achieve?  These questions pose fundamental questions to anyone involved in commissioning, delivering or receiving the outputs of projects particularly in the construction sector where there is an industry drive to better manage transitions and design and deliver buildings properly. Initiatives such as the Building Services Research and Information Association (BSRIA) Soft Landings and Government Soft Landings as well as an increasing focus on benefits realisation are raising the profile of the transition from project phase to business as usual and the construction industry is increasingly being required at procurement stage to demonstrate commitment to improved knowledge transfer and handovers.

A a practitioner, Owen has first-hand experience of projects in the built environment and thought it important to capture lessons learned and success factors from projects that have completed that transition (some more successfully than others) and share these in the hope that it will help more projects to handover successfully. 

One of the challenges we had with the research was trying to obtain participating organisations and individuals that provided a good cross section of the UK project profession that enabled handover to be assessed across a range of business sectors.  Getting the input of some organisations was sometimes difficult - unsuccessful project handovers could be seen as bad publicity and have negative commercial implications and successful recipes for handing over projects can be viewed as a unique selling point or area of commercial strength that provides competitive advantage.  One of the difficulties of any study of this nature is getting participants to consider how it could work better rather than how things have gone in the past.  A final challenge we faced was isolating which factors in the project lifecycle have an impact on handover specifically, as opposed to just good project practice, which was easier said than done.

Not all projects hand over successfully. This is frequently attributable to many factors. We hoped that this research, drawn from the experience of previous projects, identifies both pitfalls and good practice and distils them into guidance that practitioners can adopt for their own projects. Learning these lessons helps to mitigate the risk of poor handovers and improve the likelihood of a successful project handover.

Drawing on input from a diverse and wide array of notable organisations including Civica, the Infrastructure and Projects Authority, Laing O’Rourke, Mediacity/Peel Holdings, Transport for London  and Vinci Construction amongst others some key learnings were identified.  Firstly, you the need to establish a common data environment.  Secondly, work with the ‘end users’ to ensure the right people are being trained at the right time, in the most effective manner, to support the transfer of knowledge and responsibility. Thirdly, produce documents that are meaningful and useful to the end users and finally conduct dry runs to simulate the operational phase.

The research identified 12 factors to ensure effective handover:

Commercial/contractual

  1. Requirements should be written into tender documentation/contracts in as much detail and as specifically as possible including engagement requirements, data environment and any standardisation of equipment or product that the client requires.
  2. Whole life cost must be considered if at all possible.
  3. Incentivise success. If a scheme is well delivered, this should reward all parties.

Process

  1. Handover is a process not a date. Planning for it should be from the start of the project and it should be viewed as an incremental transfer of knowledge and operation from project team to business as usual.
  2. The benefits and deliverables must be measurable and communicable from the start. Ask why are we doing this project and how will we know when it is done?
  3. Involve end users from the outset. Through stakeholder analysis, understand who will benefit from the project, who will be required to facilitate the delivery of the benefits and how the project outputs will impact their role.

Data and knowledge transfer

  1. Documentation must be written for the end users. It may require different sets of documentation for different users but for documentation to support knowledge transfer it needs to be meaningful, applicable and relevant to the end users.
  2. Collate lessons learned as the project progresses. It provides more meaningful data for future projects, it can be tied to stage gateways or key deliverables.
  3. Agree the information requirements at the outset. This ensures all parties have a clear deliverable, know what is expected of them and work towards achieving the goal from the start of project.

People

  1. Often overlooked but put simply get good people on your project and keep them for as long as you are able.
  2. Definition of stakeholders should be carried out throughout and in detail. Who will be impacted by the project and who is needed to make it a success?
  3. The client role is pivotal including client engagement.

The full report can be downloaded here

Contributors:  Owen Anthony is an experienced project management practitioner, who as well as being a Full member of APM is also a member of the Soft Landings User Group who acted as the study’s research lead.

Daniel Nicholls is APM’s Research Manager who commissioned the research study for APM and having been a project manager thought it important to help improve understanding around this often neglected subject. For more information on APM Research please visit www.apm.org.uk/research

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Inclusive environments: a moral issue, a business case, and a statutory duty

Julie Fleck RTPI OBE

Built Enivironment & Professional Education (BEPE) Project Lead

CIC

Despite 20 years of anti-discrimination legislation and over 50 years of technical standards, a recent Women and Equalities Committee inquiry has found that disabled people still find their lives needlessly restricted by features of the built environment.

The findings point to a stark fact: the burden of creating an accessible environment falls too heavily on individual disabled people, and the bodies who create, occupy and manage the environment are not doing enough.

As built environment professionals that means you and me! What can we do more? When we are designing a scheme, drafting policy or making decisions on a development proposal, do we fully understand the human aspect of how people use and interact with buildings?  Do we really understand how disabled and older people perceive, use and experience buildings and places?  If we don’t fully understand these issues, accessibility can become a tick box exercise that results in compromise and sometimes exclusion for a large section of society.

Not just “nice to do”
The business case for access and inclusion has been made by the Design Council in its Inclusive Environment Hub.  The government’s own statistics stress that excluding over 12 million disabled people in the UK and the increasing number of older and very old people who wish to remain active and engaged citizens, can result in a loss of over £212billion to the economy. 

The Women and Equalities Committee questioned how the planning system can better design an environment that enables disabled people to take part in society on an equal basis.  The report also made a number of recommendations to government, including making clear the legal status of achieving an inclusive environment, so that it is no longer treated as a ‘nice to do’ but a statutory requirement. 

Another recommendation was to amend the NPPF "to incorporate a dedicated section on access for disabled people and inclusive design for local planning authorities and decision-takers”.  It also calls on the Equalities and Human Rights Commission to look at how the Equality Act is enforced. 

Enforcement currently relies heavily on litigation by disabled people who have already been disadvantaged by the situation they are seeking to redress.  There is a fundamental need for national and local government and the professionals concerned to take seriously the challenge of creating an inclusive environment.  That means you and me! 

Built Environment Professional Education Project
We have a tool box full of legislation, policy, standards and examples of best practice, but how can we embed this knowledge from the beginning of our built environment education?

One of the projects to emerge from the Government’s Olympic and Paralympic Legacy Programme was the Built Environment Professional Education Project (BEPE).  Launched in 2013 and supported by many built environment professional institutions (see the BEPE Report of Progress March 2016, ODI), BEPE transferred to the Construction Industry Council (CIC) in 2016 to become an industry owned and led project.

Education can change attitudes, challenge perceptions and deliver behaviour change.  BEPE aims to embed inclusive design as a core part of the required curriculum in the education and training of built environment professionals, with student and professional competence assessments that reflect this.

The response so far
CIC summarised the latest progress in a report published in March 2017 (BEPE Report of Progress March 2017, CIC ).  A key stimulus for change within the higher education sector is the revised Quality Assurance Agency’s Subject Benchmark Statements for Architectural Technology, Town and Country Planning, Landscape Architecture, and Land Construction Real Estate and Surveying (SBS Land Construction Real Estate and Surveying) which now ask graduates to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of inclusive design.  Educators will have to take this into account when assessing graduates.  The CIC will shortly be publishing a Teaching and Learning Briefing Guide to illustrate the key issues in terms of improving knowledge, skills and understanding in the creation of an accessible and inclusive built environment.

Other improvements include changes by RIBA to its CPD Programme, publication by the RTPI of a planning practice guide on Dementia and Town Planning and the requirement that all entries to the RTPI Planning Excellence Awards demonstrate inclusive planning.  The aim is that all institutions make inclusive design a key aspect of their award programmes.  This will I hope result in some great submissions to this year’s CIC Inclusive Environment Award

What can you do?
Your work as a built environment professional can have a huge impact on the accessibility and inclusivity of the built environment. CIC published in March 2017 six essential principles to support you when making decisions:

  1. Contribute to building an inclusive society now and in the future
  2. Apply professional and responsible judgement and take a leadership role
  3. Apply and integrate the principles of inclusive design from the outset of a project
  4. Do more than just comply with legislation and codes
  5. Seek multiple views to solve accessibility and inclusivity challenges
  6. Acquire the skills, knowledge, understanding and confidence to make inclusion the norm not the exception

Many of the key built environment institutions endorsed these principles and we ask you to adopt them in your work.  You can also help by sharing with your institution examples of case studies and examples of best practice, supporting and demanding the provision of new and better educational resources, becoming Disability Confident, refreshing your disability equality training, and engaging with and learning from disabled and older people.

 

Students: Learn the skills that make inclusive design second nature
Educators: Inspire your students to acquire the knowledge, skills and confidence to make inclusive planning the norm not the exception
Professionals: Integrate the principles of inclusive design into all your projects

Contributor: Julie Fleck is the Project Lead of the Built Environment and Professional Education Project at the Construction Industry Council. She is a member of the Royal Town Planning Institute and was awarded the OBE for services to disabled people.

 

 

 

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Qualification or expertise, does it have to be a choice?

The newly launched CIM Foundation course for the Construction industry marks a real step forward in the drive to make an academic qualification that is of immediate relevance to practitioners – and about time too.

Marketing is a broad (and much misunderstood) discipline, whose principles need to be learnt and understood.  The principles hold for any market sector, but the application is necessarily different depending on the industry in which you work.  Sometimes so different that it is difficult to apply the principles without some transitional guidance.

However, it is surely impossible for a central organisation to supply training tailored precisely to meet the changing requirements of a hundred unique industry sectors: a collaborative approach that combines an established and authoritative training programme with insight from current industry practitioners has to be the ideal solution.

The construction sector is the first to have undertaken such a collaboration: marketing professionals currently working in the sector provide practical guidance based on first-hand experience of the specific challenges of this diverse industry.  One small example illustrates the point.  Marketing training will demand that you focus on the customer – but in the construction industry, who is that customer?  The architect who specifies? The contractor who builds? The commissioner who pays, or the occupant who lives with the consequences?

With its complex supply chains and various influencers, the sector is difficult to navigate and also very much in need of skilled and enthusiastic professionals.  The new course draws on the experience of marketers who have had to adapt their learning to meet the needs of the construction sector and are happy to help smooth the process for new entrants.

The result is the very best hybrid – a measured and expert framework in which the unique and specific application of knowledge is explained and demonstrated.  Candidates completing the course will come away not only with an understanding of marketing principles, but also with the interpretation to enable them to apply those principles in a construction environment immediately.

The first course begins in September, with the closing date for registrations at the start of August.  More information is available here.

Contributor: Anna Hern is MD of Ridgemount PR, a consultancy specialising in the construction sector, and CIMCIG committee member

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Top 5 takeaways from the Future of ISO 45001 Conference

Billy O'Brien CIOSH

Health & Safety Professional and Director of Customer Success

Effective Software 

Effective Software were delighted and honoured to host The Future of ISO 45001 conference on April 26th in the Hilton, Birmingham. These events are created to provide an opportunity to sit down with peers of health & safety and talk through any new advancements in the industry. With 2016 not seeing the publication of the promised ISO 45001, the long-awaited replacement for the occupational health and safety standard, OHSAS 18001, it was a subject that needed a discussion. Our panel of health and safety professionals sat down in front of a packed room of health and safety professionals and discussed the future of the accreditation.

The overall feedback from the conference was extremely positive. The participation from audience members and panel members alike created valuable insights and shared ideas on the future of ISO 45001. Here are the top 5 takeaways from the conference:

1. Just A Tick Box Exercise

There was a clear concern over whether ISO 45001 will just be a tick-box exercise for organisations. In dealing with prospect clients, some participants thought the accreditation would only benefit in a way to win tenders.

“I think a lot of companies who do have accreditation’s and are already compliant are going to use it as a tick the box exercise. As we deal with some major clients, I feel it will be used as a way to win tenders/business.” Steven Pawley, Group H&S and facilities manager, Wanzl.

“People from the floor had the same opinion that it was a tick the box exercise. It’s another way of auditing firms to make money, then go on a tender list.”  Richard Baker, QHSE, Future Industrial Services.

“Personally, I don’t think we will implement 45001 as we feel as a company I doesn’t concern us. But we have a feeling that our customers will enforce this on us.” Trevor Brown, Senior Health & Safety Manger, McAleer & Rushe.

2. Means For Continuous Improvement

There was an acknowledgement that ISO 45001 will lay foundations for continuous safety improvement and that health and safety management systems will benefit from it.“It will be a very useful tool to help companies with their health and safety management systems.” Helen Jones, Safety, Health and Environmental Assurance Manager, Merlin Housing.

“ISO will be used as a tool to make sure we’re auditing for continuous improvement.” Richard Baker, QHSE, Future Industrial Services.

3. Implementation Uncertainty

There was a common uncertainty as to how much work will be involved to implement the accreditation. For larger companies, there were issues in implementing past ISO standards, so there is a natural concern for the workload that may be involved.

“Such a large amount of work went into implementing 18001 with our company as there is so many divisions and is so diverse. We don’t know whether it is going to be too difficult to implement.” Steven Pawley, Group H&S and facilities manager, Wanzl.

4. Do We All Need It?

A common theme that came from the conference was the overall uncertainty around the standard and whether certain companies should be worrying about it. For instance, some people agreed that the standard is not suitable for SME’s, due to its complexity.

“As with all of the ISO’s, it will potentially be harder to implement for smaller businesses.” Richard Baker, QHSE, Future Industrial Services.

“I still think it is quite detailed and complicated and may not be suitable for SME’s and would be much more preferred to large organisations.” Helen Jones, Safety, Health and Environmental Assurance Manager, Merlin Housing

“What I took away from the conference was that there is still a lot of uncertainty and debate going on, even from the standards body.” Alan Lyon, Client Services Director, ITM Communications

5. Are Some Standards Too Far?

The aim of these standards is to avoid the “one-size fits all” problem by allowing organisations the flexibility to adapt their management systems but there is still a large amount of concerns surrounding over-standardising in a diverse business landscape. Some companies, especially smaller companies can have adoption issues.

Despite the flaws of standardisation, I loved Helen’s (Helen Jones, Merlin Housing) enthusiasm for making standards work for her organisation as a real means of improving safety” Bridget Leathley, CMIOSH, Freelance Health and Safety Consultant.

Click here to download your free ISO 45001 Whitepaper 

Contributor: Billy O'Brien is a Health & Safety Professional and Director of Customer Success at Effective Software. Effective Software can help you with the management of your organisations Risk Assessments and Method Statements please do get in touch for more information.

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General Election 2017 v1 - unravelling the strands of perhaps the most interesting election of the modern era

Graham Watts OBE

Chief Executive

Construction Industry Council 

Well, apart from the weary tellers in the Kensington & Chelsea constituency who retired to their “camp beds” after three inconclusive counts, the snap General Election of 2017 is done and dusted; and, still, there remain so many unanswered questions.

Unsurprisingly, just two years after the previous election, comparatively few seats changed hands and the overall result was not hugely different from where the main parties started.   Nonetheless, it is perhaps the most interesting General Election of the modern era.   The biggest winner of the evening was probably the pollsters, with the combined exit poll being almost spot-on.  

The other “winners”, such that they are, are – in no particular order – Jeremy Corbyn, the young, the SNP, the LibDems, Vince Cable, DUP, Nigel Farage, Ruth Davidson and the Conservative Party.

The “losers”, such that they are, are – in no particular order – the Labour Party, Nicola Sturgeon, Nick Clegg, several Ministers, UKIP and Theresa May.

These two paragraphs summarise why this General Election was - and is - inconclusive; and the real “loser” is the country as a whole.   Uncertainty was the electoral threat to the country; and uncertainty is the outcome; despite the Prime Minister’s strong resolve to carry on regardless.  

Theresa May has made it clear that she will form a minority government; and it seems clear that her government can just survive with the support of the DUP. Collectively, they have an effective 5-seat majority over ALL other parties (and with the Independent Unionist that grows to 7).

Despite all the media hype, the Conservatives won the election.  However, it is interesting to note that the four nations of the United Kingdom, each now have a different leading political party.  Labour dominates in Wales (with almost half the popular vote); the SNP still lead comfortably in Scotland (albeit with far fewer seats); and although they lost seats, the Conservatives are still, by far, the largest party in England (although not in the major cities); the DUP rule the roost in Northern Ireland (although Sinn Fein also increased their absentee seats).  

However, despite winning the Election, the Conservative  Government will be anything BUT "strong and stable" since the PM will have to acknowledge every section of her party in order to avoid rebellion; and she will have to do this in the midst of complex BREXIT negotiations on which her MPs are at both extreme ends of the Remain/Leave spectrum.

It only needs 7 MPs to rebel and she can't carry a vote (if all the other parties unite against her government) .   Losing more than one Commons vote will probably mean going back to the country.   The John Major Government of 1992-97 had a working majority but suffered hugely (also because of Europe) due to backbench rebellion and threats of rebellion.   It may be 25 years’ further on but these basic parameters have not changed.

Labour's “gung-ho” attitude in favour of their own ability to form a minority government is clearly misplaced  - one doesn’t need a GCSE in maths to know that there are simply not enough Labour/Nationalist/LibDem MPs to make such a minority government even vaguely viable.

The most notable thing about the commentary on the Election overnight and this morning is that several very senior Tories have been completely absent from the discussion. Where is Boris? Where is Phillip Hammond? Where is David Davis? There has to be a reason for their silence.   This is all going to unravel in the next few days.

The minority Conservative Government is likely to hang on for a while.  I doubt that anyone has the stomach for another Election, if it can be avoided; it is more likely, that a crop of senior Tories will force a change of leadership, if they deem it necessary.   This is a party that can be ruthless; as Mrs Thatcher experienced, to her cost.

More likely, is that the PM will find a reason to call a second GE - and I suspect that this may happen in the autumn - driven by some key principles on Brexit.   It seems to be in her nature to want to make amends for the poor performance in this campaign.  She will see it, as her second chance to be more than a footnote in political history.

It is a huge irony that the minority Conservative government is only viable because of the gains made by Scottish Conservatives; and Ruth Davidson sits alongside Jeremy Corbyn and Vince Cable as the big personal winners of the evening; and she wasn’t standing in the Election! 

Other important side issues to this election are that a second Scottish Independence referendum is impossible in this Parliament; and the UK has returned to its traditional, historic position of two-party politics, with a vengeance.    How many years has it been since both major parties secured 40% + of the popular vote?  

A major plus is the rise in women MPs, to 206/207 (depending upon what happens in Kensington & Chelsea) – the first time there has been more than 200 women in Parliament. There is also clearly an increase in BAME MPs.

Another major bonus was Corbyn’s appeal to the young.  This morning, I heard a group of young people saying that “we” made the difference in preventing a Tory landslide.  They didn’t mean “we”, as in the Labour Party; but “we”, as in youth.   Jeremy Corbyn has awoken an interest in politics amongst young people and that has to be a good thing. 

A great pity is that we have lost some good ministers (most notably Gavin Barwell, one of the most competent Housing Ministers for the past few parliaments) and some strong and charismatic politicians (notably Nick Clegg and Alex Salmond).   One particularly big beast has returned in the comeback of Vince Cable.

At a parochial level, we lost the hard-working chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment, when Oliver Colvile lost his seat in Plymouth Devonport.   The better news is that the other leading cross-party MPs, with an interest in the built environment, were all returned (including Peter Aldous MP, Jo Churchill MP, Helen Hayes MP, Ian Lucas MP, the Rt Hon Maria Miller MP, John Spellar MP); and together with the Earl of Lytton and Lords Richard Best and Andrew Stunell, there is a strong caucus of the APPGEBE members, to enable it to continue.

The worry is that the Group was on the cusp of publishing an excellent report on the impact of BREXIT on skills needs in the built environment professions and the construction industry at the time that the Election was called.   A lot needs to be done, now, to re-establish the APPGEBE and gain approval to the report, before Parliament goes into the Summer recess. 

The Article 50 clock is ticking.  The EU says that it can begin negotiations, tomorrow.  Theresa May called the Election to strengthen her hand in the negotiation process and the outcome is the opposite to her intention.   None of this can be good.  

What also seems clear is that Nigel Farage will return as UKIP leader.   That party faces a future of oblivion or Farage: there is no third way. 

By Christmas, I suspect that, excepting the nationalist parties, we could very well have different leaders of the Conservative, LibDem and UKIP parties; in fact, against all the odds, Jeremy Corbyn could be the only one of the UK-wide party leaders left standing, by the end of the year.

However, we also need to recognise that despite Jeremy Corbyn's personal success in the Election, Labour only achieved the same number of seats as won by Gordon Brown, in 2010; and Neil Kinnock, in 1992. Both those leaders did not survive those losses.  

By far the biggest single point about this election is that it was called to create a strong and stable government and the outcome is likely to be exactly the opposite of that.

Personally, I hope we never see a Presidential-style Election, like this, ever again.   It failed.  

Contributor: Graham Watts OBE is the Chief Executive of the Construction Industry Council. 

The views in this article are those of the author and do not – in any way – represent the views of the Construction Industry Council; or any of its members  

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Accreditation: 'Delivering confidence in construction and the built environment’

Philippa Basset

Marketing Specialist 

UKAS

Each year the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) and the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) unite in a global initiative to promote World Accreditation Day and the specific theme for the year. This year the focus is on how accreditation delivers confidence in construction and the built environment. 

This IAF and ILAC global initiative provides a vehicle for each country’s national accreditation body to raise awareness of the value of accreditation across their region. In the UK, the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) is the sole national accreditation body appointed for the United Kingdom. UKAS is recognised by government, to assess against internationally agreed standards, organisations that provide certification, testing, inspection and calibration services.  As part of the celebrations this year, UKAS will be contributing to independent research that has been commissioned by the CQI to establish the value of quality in the construction sector. UKAS will also be taking part in an event to promote accreditation at the European Commission.

                  

The building sector in the UK is important for economic development, employment creation and the environment. Indeed recent research by PwC, ‘Global Construction 2030’ predicts that the volume of construction output is forecast to grow by 85% to USD $15.5 trillion worldwide by 2030. This growth will be driven by developed countries recovering from economic instability and emerging countries continuing to industrialise.

Within the more industrialised nations and developed economies, construction is a complex and highly competitive sector, which in itself provides challenges for companies who are seeking to drive up margins whilst reducing costs. With a focus on the improvement of build quality and more emphasis on sustainability, and reducing the carbon footprint, there has been an increasing awareness of the environmental aspect within the construction industry over the last few years.

The rapid advancement of the digital revolution is also impacting on the construction arena with Building Information Modelling (BIM) for the design of structures to the embedding of smart and connected technology in construction components. This combined with a greater emphasis on adhering to regulatory requirements, meeting health and safety legislation and minimising risk, all contribute to the complexity of demands operating across this industry sector.

Building confidence and trust, particularly within the public domain are key factors for anyone involved in the construction sector. Given these considerations, accreditation is seen as providing a system that supports the management of risk, helps to improve and drive efficiency across any business, whilst demonstrating compliance with national or local regulation. Working to recognised standards where accredited testing, calibration, inspection and certification are upheld, serves to provide consumers, suppliers, purchasers and specifiers with assurance that construction projects are efficiently executed, sites are safe and the materials used are reliable and meet with regulatory requirements. This in turn provides assurance to Government and Regulators as there is an evidence chain that can demonstrate completed projects meet the required regulatory compliance.

As accreditation is seen as being an independent evaluation of conformity assessment bodies, (such as laboratories, certification and inspection bodies) against recognised national and international standards to carry out specific activities to ensure their integrity, impartiality and competence, it provides confidence and assurance to the public and specifiers that there are procedures in place to support the management of risk and compliance with regulation.

A joint statement issued by the Chairs of IAF and ILAC sets out the importance of this year’s theme and how accreditation can support those working in this sector including building owners, operators, contractors, manufacturers, designers and architects to structural and civil engineers. The statement also sets out how accreditation is used by policy makers, local authorities and regulators to support construction based regulation, environmental protection, public safety and trust, fraud prevention and innovation.

As part of the overall branding and global promotion of World Accreditation Day, a number of promotional items have also been created and are available for download, including a poster, brochure and a video produced by the European Accreditation organisation entitled; ‘World Accreditation Day 2017, Accreditation: Delivering confidence in construction and the built environment.’     

The Public Sector Assurance website, jointly created by global quality infrastructure organisations, contains further examples and research to demonstrate the value that accreditation plays within the construction sector. 

You can find out how UKAS accreditation within the construction arena could benefit your business here. To receive the latest updates follow UKAS on Twitter or LinkedIn and if you are active on social media, you can use #WAD2017 on June 9th. 

Contributor: Philippa Bassett, Marketing Specialist at UKAS since 2013. Philippa is a Chartered Marketer who worked in London advertising and marketing agencies for over 10 years. She also ran her own business for 7 years and has worked in a Marketing Management capacity for two leading PLCs. Within UKAS, Philippa’s role focuses on external communications including PR.

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Construction Related Occupation cards are no more

Graham Wren

CEO

Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS)

The industry is united in its desire for a fully qualified workforce and CSCS’ supporting role is to ensure all site workers hold the appropriate qualifications for their job.

In 2015 the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) announced (via the Industrial Strategy: Construction 2025) that industry should only promote card schemes carrying the CSCS logo. 

In order to qualify for the CSCS logo all card schemes (including CSCS) must develop plans to meet the CLC’s requirements including:

  • agreeing appropriate qualifications for each occupation
  • setting a minimum standard for skilled occupations at NVQ level 2
  • introducing smart technology by 2020.

As part of our continuing work to meet these requirements CSCS withdrew the CRO card in March this year. No further CRO cards will be issued or renewed and CRO cardholders must take further steps to replace their CRO cards if they wish to remain part of the CSCS scheme.

In many cases CRO card holders will be required to register for existing or newly developed qualifications before their CRO cards expire. In others CRO card holders will be moved to one of CSCS’s Partner Card Schemes that are more appropriate for their occupations.

With the withdrawal of the CRO card we have identified a number of occupations that are not construction related and as such have been removed from the scheme. People working in these occupations (such as Locksmiths, Security Guards, Cleaners and NVQ Assessors) no longer require a CSCS card when visiting site.

This is a significant change for the industry as many sites still operate 100% carded workforce policies. We hear of sites turning non-construction related workers away because they do not hold a CSCS card.

We want to get the message out to industry that CSCS cards are intended for constructed related occupations only and when someone turns up on site to carry out a non-constructed related job they should not be turned away because they do not hold a CSCS card. Site Managers and Supervisors have a responsibility to induct and escort (where appropriate) these people to ensure they remain safe at all times.

The withdrawal of the CRO card is seen as a practical step towards meeting the expectations of the CLC whilst simultaneously moving the scheme back to its original objective of certifying worker’s training and qualifications.

If you are a CRO cardholder the chances are you haven’t long to go before your card expires. I would urge all CRO card holders to visit www.cscs.uk.com/cro to find out the steps you need to take to replace your CRO card.

Contributor:Graham Wren joined CSCS in 2012. He previously worked at Balfour Beatty for 29 years, latterly as the managing director of Balfour Beatty Ground Engineering. In the past he has been chairman of the Federation of Piling Specialists (FPS), president of the National Specialists Contractors Council (NSCC) and sat on the Strategic Forum for Construction.

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