CIC Blog: 2017

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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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Taking a lifecycle approach to resource management

Diane Crowe

Sustainability Manager

Carillion 

With the effects of global warming being felt across the globe, it is critical for businesses operating in the built environment to look at new and innovative ways to reduce waste, cut carbon emissions and support cleaner, more efficient operations. Together, we must address the challenges of supporting sustainable communities and demonstrate a positive contribution to a common international agenda – which is where the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals come into play. 

At Carillion, we are ensuring that the UN goals are embedded where possible into our wider 2020 sustainability strategy – for example, goal 12 in particular resonates with the construction landscape, with its focus on ensuring sustainable consumption and resource efficiency. A key area for a business like ours is waste, and we divert some 95% from landfill (3% is hazardous waste and other non-recyclable materials). It should be noted that while this is an important part of our overall sustainability strategy, our focus on waste reduction goes significantly beyond diversion from landfill – it is part of our culture. Through our ‘Don’t Walk By’ campaign we are continuing to challenge internal thinking about resource use by raising awareness and giving all employees accountability for reporting waste, such as fuel spillages. Adopting this self-monitoring approach is an important way for businesses to engage, inform and motivate employees, helping to create a strong working culture around resource-efficiency.

As well as building this internal culture, it is also important for businesses to work with organisations across the supply chain and collaborate with other industry bodies to combat waste. Our joint venture with Kier on the M6 Smart Motorways project harnessed this collaborative approach by utilising the insights from industry body BRE (Building Research Establishment Group) through its SmartWaste system. The monitoring and reporting tool identifies trends around a project’s waste output and resource use, as well as sharing potential areas for improvement across the supply chain, all of which helped to divert a significant 99.95% of waste from landfill on the project. The activity was marked with a BRE SmartWaste Award, highlighting the project as an example of industry best practice in terms of resource and waste management. Carillion is also part of The Innovation Gateway, a group of organisations working together to support innovators and SMEs working in the resource efficiency space, helping to accelerate new innovations in energy, waste and water to market. Encouraging this type of forward-thinking is key for the construction industry’s sustainability journey and must be embraced by all businesses to reduce the environmental impact of buildings and infrastructure.

Focusing on waste reduction during the early design and planning stages of a project is also critical for carbon reduction strategies. A way that businesses can do this effectively is by embracing digital construction processes such as Business Information Modelling (BIM) to give more transparency around the whole project lifecycle. As laid out in the Industrial Strategy, BIM presents a fantastic opportunity for Government and industry bodies to work collaboratively to unlock more efficient methods of designing, creating and maintaining assets. We harnessed the benefits of these digital technologies with our A1 L2B civils contract, enabling us to accurately control the amount of tarmac laid during the construction process, thus ensuring both a high-quality finish and reduction in waste. Assessing the environmental impact of projects in this way helps to inform critical decisions about construction methodology, while facilitating greater efficiency across supply chains.

During the physical construction process, we continually strive to find inventive ways to reduce, reuse and recycle materials – from water and concrete, to timber and steel – through initiatives such as the Community Wood Scheme, where we work with this organisation to distribute surplus timber from our London projects for use in the wider community. In a resource-intensive building environment, we have a commercial and ethical responsibility to find alternatives to virgin materials where possible. Therefore, where we have demolition and construction projects happening within close proximity of each other, we look to manage materials in a way that creates a localised circular economy. This was the case for the demolition of Paradise Circus and construction of the new Midlands Metropolitan Hospital in Birmingham, where we were able to maximise efficiency and reduce resource waste by transferring materials for reuse from one to another. The project also made use of recycled materials, such as ground glass that was no longer suitable to make glass products, as a Damp Proof Membrane further reducing the need for virgin materials and reducing waste across the supply chain. We also continually reflect on ways to reduce water use, having reduced our water consumption by 37% across our operations last year with initiatives from reusing swimming pool water on a construction site in Oman to creating rainwater lagoons on construction sites here in the UK.

By thinking of waste only while buildings and infrastructure are in use, you risk missing major opportunities to address sustainable operations within the construction industry. Looking at the entire lifecycle of resources is key to this, and businesses must look at aspects such as material use, waste and carbon impact from the initial concept phase right through to planning, designing and construction in order to effectively manage the environmental impact of their projects.

Contributor: Diane Crowe is Carillion’s Group Head of Sustainability, with a specific lead on the Environment. She is responsible for developing and implementing the Group’s Environmental Policy and Strategy across the UK, Middle East and Canada. Diane will be speaking at FT Future of Construction Summit in London – 18 May 2017.

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An approach to Inclusive Design

Ron Koorm

Retired access consultant and building surveyor

Training professionals in Inclusive Design is topical and relevant to designers, architects, surveyors and others. But what of building tradespeople? Is that relevant or even necessary? After all, most tradesmen and women have enough to be concerned about with relevant technical regulations, CDM, health and safety, changes in technology and materials, etc.

Specifications and drawings from designers tend to dictate the design of a property, or refurbishment, so where does the need for knowledge for inclusive design come in, for the trades?

We are talking of plumbers, electricians, heating engineers, carpenters, joiners, and many others too.

What many do not realize or appreciate is that probably the bulk of building and construction work is carried out without the input of an architect, building surveyor, access consultant, or professional designer. We are speaking of contractors called in to give a quotation for some minor alterations, maintenance, a small refurb job, and in commercial, industrial, education, and residential sectors.

The office manager calls in Fred, the builder, and wants a partition altered, or a doorway moved. The work may involve multiple trades, carpenters, electricians, IT installers, plumbers, floorlayers, decorators. One thing leads to another, and before you know it, the office manager adds a bit here and a bit there. Too small to get an architect involved perhaps, and anyway there are fees to be saved if the contractor just gets on with it. The contractor subcontracts the work to a range of subcontractors.

Now, consider the positioning of electrical controls, door handles, signage, light switches. The tradesperson may well ask the office manager where they want these items positioned, or they may be given carte blanche in decision-making as to heights, widths, distances, colour-contrast, and other criteria. So, will the final result be “inclusive” as regards design, or maybe partly inclusive, or downright non-inclusive?

Ah, but you say surely Building Control would step in and look over the job, and wave “Part M” and the Approved Document at the Office Manager and contractor. Sadly, not all jobs will involve building control, and even if they do, not all aspects of construction fall under Part “M”.

One electrician recently said to the writer, “That building doesn’t have to comply with any building regs, so I can put the light switches and power sockets in any height I want…”

Add the jobs that should be notified to Building Control and landlord’s managing surveyors, but aren’t; add the jobs which grow and grow, from what was just tightening a few door handles, but now involves changing several glazed partitions and suspended ceilings; add the jobs which started off as one hour’s work and now involves a team of tradespeople and a couple of weeks, and it becomes clearer why tradespeople are really quite important in the bigger picture of design and specification.

The difference between a tradesperson having some knowledge of inclusive design or none, can make the difference between a disabled person getting through an opening of an amended doorway with a wheelchair or not. Or, a person with some vision-impairment colliding with the string of a staircase because it was not well-tonally-contrasted. An access-auditor may well pick this up at some stage in the life of the building, but by then, it may be too late, as the damage may already have been done.

Speaking to an electrician, newly-qualified, he had not heard of the term ‘inclusive-design’ or understood the principles of such a term.

If the writer had not intervened in a small residential project, the light switches would have gone in too high, the RCD external power sockets would have been incorrectly positioned, and the lighting fittings would have been positioned such that deep shadows would have been cast onto work surfaces. Yet, these were ‘competent’ registered Part “P” certified electricians. (Part P refers to part of the Building Regulations -Electrical work on residential domestic property).

The electrical installation would be safe, tested, certified, but so easily the installation could have been less than satisfactory as regards heights and positioning of controls. A consumer-unit for a workshop was allowed to be installed at a slightly higher level, partly because operation of the MCB’s, (Miniature circuit breakers), and RCD, (Residual Current Device), would be relatively infrequent, and partly to avoid children accessing the unit, which might be relevant to a future owner of the property.

But there is also a case for taking the view that disabled people may, from time to time, also have to operate an MCB or RCD switch on the consumer unit, and it may be inconvenient or physically impossible for them to reach if it is positioned relatively high above a worktop. Not so critical in a garden shed, perhaps, but quite critical in the main part of a residential house or flat.

They may otherwise need to get assistance to switch the electrical power or lighting circuit back on if they cannot physically reach the unit. That may not always be convenient, or indeed, practical, particularly in more remote areas, where your nearest neighbour is a mile away. A balance needs to be struck here.

What must be done, is that trades-bodies such as NICEIC, ECA, GasSafe, and others, must ensure that their members have a basic knowledge of inclusive design, inasmuch that they understand the principles, and can apply those principles to any given situation. This enables them to discuss options on the project with a professional designer, or to convey useful knowledge relevant to the trade on inclusive design to a client or client representative, or even another tradesperson.

Whether this should be done through CPD training alone, remains to be seen. The writer feels that this is more about ‘culture-change’ and removing prejudices in the construction industry. Architects, surveyors, and designers don’t always get it right. There is considerable value in listening to what a tradesperson has to say about design, but only if they have been given the knowledge and the ‘tools’ to participate in a meaningful, and constructive way.

Some years ago there were mini-handbooks on aspects of construction, safety, and scaffolding, handed out to builders. Perhaps, what is now needed, is the equivalent handbook on practical aspects of inclusive design, perhaps specialized for each relevant trade. As we are in modern times, maybe an “App” is required, but a small handbook with simple diagrams and dimensions, of A5 size might be useful for them to refer to on site.

Make it compulsory for tradespeople to have a section in their exam syllabus on inclusive design, and how it is relevant to their particular trade or trades. But we can all dream…..

Finally, it would be worthwhile if some research were undertaken by others, to enquire of trades organisations and accredited- trade-bodies, what information or training is expected of their members on inclusive design? Do their examinations make any reference to inclusion and inclusive design, and if so, in what context?

Food for thought.

Contributor: Ron Koorm is a retired access consultant and building surveyor

 

 

 

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Dealing with dementia – a role for us all

Sarah Lewis, MRTPI,

Planning Practice Officer,

Royal Town Planning Institute

There are currently 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK. This is set to increase to 1 million by 2021 and 2 million by 2051. The estimated cost of the disease for the UK economy is £26 billion a year, with an estimated 25 percent of all hospital beds occupied by people with dementia in 2013, according to Alzheimer’s Society. These stark statistics demonstrate the impact of dementia on the countries health and social care systems. But what does it mean for the built environment professions and is there a role for us all to play in combating the effect of the disease and helping people with dementia to live well for longer?

In Dementia and Town Planning, our new practice advice note, the Royal Town Planning Institute highlights the vital role that planning (and extending to other built environment professions) can and should have in creating the enabling local environments that allow people living with dementia to live well for longer.

A survey by Alzheimer’s Society found that 35 percent of people with dementia said they only go out once a week or less and 10 percent said once a month or less, despite evidence showing that staying physically, mentally and socially active can have an impact on the progression of the illness. If housing suitable for older people is located in community hubs within a 5-10 minute walk of local shops and services, this will allow people living with dementia the ability to live well and remain independent for longer. Access to green space and nature has particular benefits for people with dementia.

Key things to look out for are:

  • Familiar environment - functions of places and buildings are obvious, any changes are small scale and incremental;
  • Legible environment - a hierarchy of street types, which are short and fairly narrow. Clear signs at decision points;
  • Distinctive environment - a variety of landmarks, with architectural features in a variety of styles and materials. There is a variety of practical features, e.g. trees and street furniture;
  • Accessible environment - land uses are mixed with shops and services within a 5-10 minute walk from housing. Entrances to places are obvious and easy to use and conform to disabled access regulations;
  • Comfortable environment - open space is well defined with toilets, seating, shelter and good lighting. Background and traffic noise should be minimised through planting and fencing. Street clutter is minimal to not impede walking or distract attention;
  • Safe environment - footpaths are wide, flat and non-slip, development is orientated to avoid creating dark shadows or bright glare.

Our advice has been endorsed by Alzheimer's Society, with their Chief Executive, Jeremy Hughes, saying,

"I encourage all concerned to take the RTPI's useful advice on board and support those with dementia to live the lives they want to."

The types of local environments that work well for people living with dementia also work for all older people, for young disabled people, for families with small children, and ultimately everyone. For this ambition to happen it will require collaborative and innovative thinking between built environment professionals, who can work in partnership with health and social care professionals and really listening and learning from people living with dementia and their carers. Isn’t this something we can all sign up to do, and can we afford not to?

The RTPI is actively involved in the Built Environment Professional Education Project (BEPE), which aims to inspire change and raise the profile of inclusive design amongst professionals and our advice on dementia is just one of the tasks the RTPI has undertaken.

Dementia and Town Planning is free to download from the RTPI website. For more information, please contact sarah.lewis@rtpi.org.uk

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Engaging Men for Gender Equality at Work

Michael Kimmel

Sociologist & Author

Here is what we know: we cannot fully empower women and girls without engaging boys and men.

This is not ideology; it's empirical.  Seriously.  Name one reform that women wanted that didn't require men's support.  The vote? Access to education?  Entry into the trades and professions? Driving a car?

It's true, women’s progress towards equality is incontestable.  It seems obvious that we are, today, more gender equal than we have ever been in our history (I hasten to point out that we are not “there” yet, that we have not fully achieved gender equality, just that we are closer than we have ever been.)   But progress towards greater equality has slowed: women have pushed the glass ceiling higher on the corporate ladder, but all that leaning in has not crashed through to the board room.   Girls and women compose half of all students in our law, medical and business schools, and have made enormous strides in STEM courses.  Working mothers are doing more housework and child care than they did 30 years ago.  Every day, we read stories of sexual assault – in our schools, homes, at parties, and in our military. 

How can we further the campaign for women’s equality?  How can we help women get there?

By engaging men.  Particularly, we need to help men decouple those aspects of masculinity that hold men – and women – back from living the lives they say they want.

This is crucial.  A 2013 survey by the Pew Research Center found that women and men rated “being a good parent” (94% of women, 91% of men) and “having a successful marriage” (84% of women, 83% of men) equally highly – and nearly tice as important as “being successful in a high-paying career.”  (Interestingly, women rated career aspirations slightly higher than men did, 51% to 49%).

So women and men want the same thing: good careers, loving relationships and happy families.  Women are advised to lean in, or to opt out – as if they can do it alone.  But women can’t have the lives they want without some support from men.   Men need to listen up. 

Let me offer a few examples.  Take education.   Four decades after a concerted effort to remedy dramatic gender discrimination in education, we read today about a “boy crisis”  -- gender disparities in college attendance, a gender-grade gap with girls earning better grades and taking most academic honors, while boys populate the detention room, special education classes, and are diagnosed with ADHD far more often.  Remedies abound, from the sensible (greater attention to individual learning styles) to the illogical and possibly illegal (single-sex classes with thermostats set at different temperatures, gender specific classroom seating arrangements and course materials, all based on outdated stereotypes). 

In reality, much of the cause of the “boy crisis” in education lies with the definition of masculinity held by the boys themselves – the notion that academic disengagement is proof of masculinity.  Helping boys to engage academically requires that we recognize different learning styles along an array of measures – which in turn leads to recognizing diverse aptitudes and competencies, enabling everyone, girls and boys, to better achieve to their potential.

Or take balancing work and family.   We know that women will not be able to balance work and family until – well, until men do. 

Twenty years ago, I wrote an article in the Harvard Business review entitled “What Do Men Want?”  In it, I asked men who worked for companies that offered parental leave to men why they didn’t take it when they became fathers.  Each one told the same story: his colleagues wondered loudly if he was really committed to his job, his supervisor gave his permission with a promise that he’d be put on the “daddy track” a stalled track that did not end in partnership.  In each case, it was other men who had created a workplace climate that thwarted these fathers from taking the opportunity they wanted to take.

Despite this, in the past two decades men have stepped up on the home front.  Well, not exactly stepped up – more like stepped out.  Men are doing marginally more housework, but significantly more childcare than they did a generation ago.  This separation of housework and childcare has resulted in a new phenomenon: dad has become the fun parent.  Dad takes the kids to the park to pay soccer while mom cleans the breakfast dishes, makes the bed, does the laundry and prepares lunch.  The kids come home proclaiming what a great time they had and what a great parent dad is. 

If we want to help women, we need to help men find all those inner joys of housework that anti-feminists have been celebrating for decades – or at least to do their share. 

What about health?  Yes, we know that women outlive men by about 5 years, 81 for women and 76 for men.   Men are more likely to die of stress-related illness and miss work due to workplace accidents.  By defining masculinity as risk-taking stoicism, men are less likely to have routine screenings, less likely to comply with workplace safety in the name of proving masculinity.  Our notions of masculinity deprive our spouses and partners and families of our presence for those five years because of our adherence to these ideals of masculinity.

Finally, let’s get even more intimate.  Decades of research have shown that the more men subscribe to what we might call “traditional” notions of masculinity – that manhood is defined by strength, aggression, emotional toughness and sexual prowess – the more likely they are to believe that male-female relationships are adversarial, that control of women is central to manhood, and that violence is sometimes necessary to control a female partners – beliefs that translate into behaviors, like earlier first sex, higher rates of HIV and STDs, and domestic violence. 

Conforming to these traditional ideas of masculinity may be hazardous to our health – but it is also hazardous to the health of our wives, partners and children, 

What’s common among these is that men often feel they must prove their masculinity – and they must prove it to other men.  One wants to be a man’s man, a man among men.  (Who wants to be a ladies’ man – or, gasp, a “girly man”?) 

We need to help men reduce the power of that gender policing – the fear that otherm en will see us as less than manly if we listen to the voices in our own hearts about how we want to live our lives. 

If the past few decades have made anything clear it’s been that we are neither Martians nor Venusians.  And what’s good for Earthlings – male and female – is good for all of us.   If we want to help women achieve greater equality, we have to engage the men. 

Contributor: Michael Kimmel is a Sociologist and author of "Angry White Men", you can see Michael's Tedtalk on why 'Gender Euqlaity os good for everyone - Men included' here

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How to avoid adjudication

Niall Lawless 

Chartered Arbitrator and Engineer, Adjudicator, Mediator

This week the CIC today published a new ‘Users’ Guide to Adjudication, which replaces the Construction Umbrella Bodies Adjudication Task Group “Users’ Guide to Adjudication” produced in April 2003. 

When I am asked how to avoid adjudication, I reply that competent contractors avoid adjudication by using the Contract properly, they keep good records, and use a formal method for evaluating commercial risk. In this blog, I discuss the importance of good records.

Competent contractors have the right combination of experience, knowledge and skills required to carry out the work safely. What is right will depend on the complexity and scale of the project. Well-organised, complete and co-ordinated production information is a prerequisite for the proper management of construction. To effectively control and monitor a project, capable contractors maintain good, accurate and complete records. They have a change control system, and maintain a fit-for-purpose project documentation and record keeping system. Record-keeping will enable the contractor to comply with the contractual reporting obligations, as well as to establish and/or defend claims. 

Documentation can provide contemporaneous records of what actually happening on a project and the parties’ positions regarding past events. “A party to a dispute, particularly if there is “adjudication”, will learn three lessons (often too late): the importance of records, the importance of records and the importance of records”. It is for the Party making a claim to satisfy the adjudicator to the civil standard of proof, on the balance of probabilities, that it enjoys entitlement. The adjudicator will not know about the project, which must be reconstructed for him with all its complexities and nuances. If not backed by meticulously established records, lawyers are ingenious in finding grounds, often quite real, on which to cast doubt on evidence. (1)

In an adjudication, involving the design, procurement, supply, installation and commissioning of PV systems onto about 3,000 roofs there was a dispute about how many damaged tiles the contractor had to replace. The contractor’s works were accelerated; it employed additional resources and more sub-contractors. It extended weekday business hours and worked weekends. The contractor argued that neither it nor the employer could keep up with the administrative burden of authorising or recording tile replacements, and a requirement to follow strictly the contractual procedure would have rendered any programme impossible to maintain. 

The contractor paid not enough attention to record keeping, and it only had evidence to support claims on about half the properties. The contractor said that the records it had were indicative of the tile replacement work for other properties where it was without records, and that it was reasonable to use the records it had to establish the total quantity of tile replacement. 

It asked the adjudicator to calculate an average number of tiles/slates replaced per property based on the records it had, and then to pro-rata an average cost across the remaining properties to estimate its total entitlement. In the circumstances, without contemporary records I decided that this methodology was without merit, and the contractor’s claim in respect of replacing tiles was not successful. 

Contemporary records are “original or primary documents, or copies thereof, produced or prepared at or about the time giving rise to a claim, whether by or for the contractor or the employer.”  Witness statements can record the recollections of those who were involved with the works, but are not a substitute for contemporary records. (2)

Compensable delay and disruption can be the ‘Holy Grail’ in claims preparation, particularly in infrastructure projects, where the contractor will want to claim or recover for head office and site overheads. However, such claims can be complex to prove, and the degree of success of such claims is often related to the quality of records available.

The conundrum is this. With good record keeping there is less likely to be a dispute. With poor record keeping, there is more likely to be a dispute, and it is less likely that a claim for loss and expense for delay and disruption can be adequately substantiated. 


Information and the Zone of Ambiguity

One area I am intrigued with exploring and learning more about in the interconnection between BIM and disputes arising and being resolved.

Traditional CAD uses software tools to generate digital 2D and/or 3D drawings. BIM changes the way construction and engineering professionals work. Typically, the BIM process uses three-dimensional modelling software to increase the productivity of consultants and contractors during design and construction. BIM is the process of generating and managing building data during design, construction and during the building’s or asset’s life cycle, in a single source model. (3) BIM facilitates design and management using intelligent objects. The object represents a single entity and describes both the structure and behaviour of that construction or engineering component.   

One anecdote from my time working in Hong Kong is of a contractor taking 2D CAD drawings from consultants, and developing its own BIM model to identify clashes and the possibility for claims. What a creative use of evolving technology?

1. Engineering Law and the I.C.E. Contract Max Abrahamson Fourth Edition 1979 ISBN 0 419 16080 9 Routledge
2. Attorney General for the Falkland Islands v Gordon Forbes Construction (Falklands) Limited (2003) 6 BLR 280

3. CIC Building Information Modelling Standards Draft 6.2

Contributor: Niall is Chair of the CIC Adjudicator Nominating Body Management Board. He is a Chartered Arbitrator, Building Services Engineer, Mechanical Engineer, Information Systems Engineer and Chartered Builder. He provides arbitration, adjudication and mediation services in commercial technology, engineering and construction disputes. https://www.linkedin.com/in/adjudicator

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New HSE Guidance on Risk Assessments

Billy O'Brien CIOSH

Health & Safety Professional and Director of Customer Success

Effective Software 

The HSE has issued a proposal to update the guidance on risk assessment (known as INDG 163) in order to place “more emphasis on controlling risk and less on written assessments.”

Nothing in health and safety legislation says “for every activity and piece of equipment you must draw up a table, list everything that can go wrong in the first column, come up with numbers for likelihood and severity of each hazard, multiply these together, and then add extra controls in the last column if any of the numbers are quite big.” The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations instead require you to “make a suitable and sufficient assessment of risks” and to record “the significant findings of the assessment”.

The HSE have been concerned for some time that this simple, sensible requirement has become an industry in itself, with companies selling generic risk assessments which sit on shelves without making the workplace any safer. In the previous 2014 version of the guidance the HSE did emphasise that “a risk assessment is not about creating huge amounts of paperwork, but rather about identifying sensible measures to control the risks in your workplace.”

The new HSE proposal goes further by asking employers to look at the types of documents they already have, and see how these are used to communicate health and safety controls. Disappointingly, there is no mention of any technological solutions to reducing the paperwork burden. The Effective Method Statement software module, for example, makes use of information in risks assessments, as well as other modules on PPE, equipment or people to efficiently create appropriate instruction sets.

The HSE suggest method statements as an example of an existing document which would provide a record of your “significant findings”, so let’s see how that would work. Where a method statement focuses only on the mechanics of the task, the technician is expected to read a separate risk assessment for the hazards and controls. However, if a method statement is well written, the person doing the job doesn’t need to refer back to a risk assessment. Consider a boiler repair where working on hot equipment could result in a burn. If step 1 is “check the boiler has cooled down” there is no need to refer to a separate risk assessment.

Whilst the technician might follow the method statement for a boiler repair, warehouse staff carrying out routine manual handling are unlikely to refer to a method statement. So look around, and see what else you “may already have” to communicate and manage risks in your business. What about signs and posters?

Take a typical manufacturing plant that needed to improve risk assessment practices – trolleys were sometimes overloaded, people didn’t always ask for help when they needed it, and a cluttered workspace resulted in awkward working positions. A risk assessment could have been issued to each member of staff asking them to sign a piece of paper to agree they had received it. A detailed method statements could have been created for each process. Compliant, yes, but unlikely the assessments or method statements would ever be referred to. Instead, colourful posters positioned at the appropriate places in the workspace – a picture of a correctly loaded trolley where the trolleys are loaded, a reminder of the impact on posture of an untidy working area by the shelves where the clutter problem occurred most often, and pictures reinforcing the idea that asking for help was the right thing to do rather than a sign of weakness.

Although too many signs and posters can be distracting, putting a reminder on a piece of equipment of the essential safety checks needed, or photographs of how furniture should be stacked will have more impact than the same information hidden in the last column of the risk assessment in the shiny folder on the shelf.

The evidence that appropriately positioned signs can change behaviour is so convincing that NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) recommend employers put signs by lifts and escalators to encourage staff to use the stairs, to promote physical activity in the workplace.

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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CDM Differently*

Tony Putsman

Director

Xenophon Project Services Limited/ Construction Team Technologies Ltd

CDM Differently* – Safety Culture Gap Management** A challenge for the Industry?

How has the UK Construction Sector responded to the more stringent requirements set out in the revised CDM Regulations which came into effect on 6th April 2015? After a pretty hectic first twelve months I get the sense that the Industry , in some respects, has lapsed back into its old ways.

I recently carried out some consultancy work for a large contractor, as part of their drive to understand the underlying and root causes of ‘near miss’ incidents which could have resulted in serious injury or potentially loss of life. This organisation has strong health and safety leadership and a positive culture that encourages everyone to influence how risks are managed on site. Although the incidents investigated were different in nature and potential outcome, my analysis suggested there was a common flaw in the way the project teams on the various sites addressed risk management. A lot of effort had gone into producing project documentation that covered generic risks, but the project teams had failed to recognise the particular combination of site factors and construction activities that represented ‘significant risk scenarios’. None of the incidents investigated had been adequately addressed in the pre-planning stage.

Rather than seeing this as a failure of individual teams or organisational weaknesses, I concluded that the approach to project risk management taken by this organisation was in accordance with the established, orthodox, document-led  philosophy adopted throughout the industry.

Amongst the documents provided for each investigation were:-

  • Company policies and procedures
  • Construction phase health and safety plans
  • Site induction presentations
  • Task based risk assessments and method statements

When investigating the causes of different incidents it became clear that in each case the specific risk profile of the activity being undertaken had not been thought through in any detail. There appeared to be a presumption that everyone was working in accordance with established (written) procedures but there was no evidence that compliance (or lack of it) was being monitored.

The provision of excessive, generic documentation has been addressed in the revised CDM 2015 regulations. Regulation 8 makes specific reference to the need for health and safety information to be ‘comprehensible’. The guidance relating to this particular regulation (which applies to all duty holders) states ‘Any information or instruction provided should be in simple, clear English….Only information that is necessary to help prevent harm should be provided - unnecessary information can prevent the clear communication of key messages.’

The HSE is fully aware of the over- reliance on standardised documentation used ‘to demonstrate compliance’ with the regulations. Back in 2005 it was the HSE who devised the slogan ‘Teamwork not Paperwork’ in the consultation phase for the development of the 2007 regulations.

The problem of excessive paperwork does not simply reside with Principal Contractors. The failure to identify ‘significant risks ‘ often starts at the concept stage of a project when clients and their lead designers should be identifying and evaluating the ‘difficult to manage ‘ aspects of the project so that the whole project  team can engage collaboratively in developing a risk reduction process that leads to safe construction.

If the Industry is to wean itself off excessive bureaucracy it will probably happen incrementally, project by project, as clients understand that they are accountable for the management arrangements put in place on their projects, ‘so that health, safety and welfare is secured.’

The role of the Principal Designer will be crucial in assisting clients to develop a strategic approach, at the outset, which addresses the need for practical, proportionate risk management, and a departure from the tick box mentality that has come to characterise health and safety in construction. Although the role of PD is new, the concept of developing a Project Strategy is not.

Sir Michael Latham’s report   – Constructing the Team- published in  July 1994, (around the time that the CDM Regulations were first coming  into force) , had been commissioned by the UK Government following a series of poorly performing high profile public sector projects. The main focus of the report was on how projects were procured and the contractual arrangements being employed at the time. The report described the construction sector of that period as “ineffective”, “adversarial”, “fragmented”, “incapable of delivering for its customers”, and “lacking respect for its employees”.

The report does not address the Health and Safety agenda specifically, although it does outline the proposed CDM 1994 regulations (which eventually came into force in March 1995).Whilst some of the  main recommendations around contractual arrangements have been adopted by clients , others have been largely ignored. Building the project team around a clearly defined strategy is a theme  identified in both ‘Constructing the Team’ and CDM 2015, although different language is used.

‘ Formulation of a project strategy by the client is  the first building block to a successful and cost effective scheme. Some believe that this project strategy stage should involve likely participants in the project itself, and in particular the leader of the consultant team.’                                                                                                                                  (Latham).

‘The client has a major influence over the way the project is procured and managed. CDM 2015 makes the client responsible for the impact their decisions and approach have on health, safety and welfare on the project. Clients could prepare a clear ‘clients brief’ as a way of setting out the arrangements.’                                                                                                                                                                                               (CDM 2015)

Clients generally look to their  professional advisers to guide them through the construction process. The creation of the Principal Designer role presents architects and engineers with an opportunity to facilitate  the  creation of well-directed, collaborative and  motivated teams led by informed clients. The benefits to the project delivery will extend further than improving the health and safety aspects and clients need to understand this.

* CDM Differently – a CIC- led initiative that promotes a team based approach to risk management

** Safety Culture Gap Management – an ICE –led approach to understanding the root causes of failure in organisational  health and safety performance.

Contributor: Tony Putsman a Director for Xenophon Project Services Limited/ Construction Team Technologies Ltd. and the Vice Chair of the Construction Industry Council's Health & Safety Panel 

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