All our readers and contributors.
We hope to see you all again in 2018
from The UK Construction Blog http://ukconstructionblog.co.uk/2017/12/22/seasons-greetings-to-all-our-readers/
IronmongeryDirect has created an infographic of the 28 most useful construction apps for iOS and Android, to put job-revolutionising tech in the pockets of those who need it.
Technology is revolutionising the planet, industry by industry, and the world of construction is the latest to reap the rewards. The well-known mantra, ‘there’s an app for that’, now applies to tradespeople with even the most hands-on jobs. This surge in construction app creation implies a definite shift in attitude in the industry, backed up by the recent release of PwC’s Industry 4.0, which shows the need for cloud computing, technology, 3D printing and smart tech is being increasingly valued among tradespeople. But not all construction workers and tradespeople are up to date with the latest technology, and many still resort to ‘traditional’ methods of working.
Time saved, money saved
According to Designing Buildings, the construction industry is one of the least efficient industries worldwide with some estimates showing a staggering 50-80% of time is wasted on the construction site. However, app technology is set to bring about change:
Managing Director of IronmongeryDirect, Wayne Lysaght-Mason, commented:
“With most people working in the construction sector now owning a smartphone, the apps we have researched have the potential to save considerable time and money. From builders, carpenters and electricians to project managers and employers, their smartphone can become their best tool with a range of powerful apps to help improve day-to-day efficiency both on site and in the office.”
28 useful apps for construction jobs of all sizes
The infographic created by IronmongeryDirect sums up the 28 best construction apps split by use and trade, covering things like safety, project management, measurement and planning and blueprints. It also provides handy on-the-job tools for tradespeople including glaziers, painters, electricians, plasterers and plumbers. Pros and cons are provided for each app, as well as download and subscription costs.
The construction of one million UK homes by 2020 seemed completely unachievable when it was set by the government. However, recently-released figures show that it can and has been done. A total of 217,350 new homes were built in the 2016/17 financial year, which puts the government on course to smash its goal by the year provided.
But, did the sector just get lucky and can it do it again? One project that many in government and industry think could significantly boost the UK housing sector is garden villages — settlements built on brownfield land away from established communities.
To find out what these construction projects are — and how they could affect your industry and the British economy as a whole — check out our article.
The creation of a garden village involves careful design and exceptional attention-to-detail in order for it to fall within the boundaries of the building project’s style. A garden village must be attractive, of high-quality and be expertly designed. These projects came about as an answer to lack of housing in the UK, so their design is focused on easing this strain — particularly for first-time buyers. Alongside garden villages, expect to see the construction of garden towns. These building projects are very similar to garden villages in design and effect, although they are much larger — with some experts predicting they could hold up to 48,000 units.
There are several ways to identify a garden village. Firstly, it consists of 1,500-10,000 houses that are all part of a single, self-contained community, which is often surrounded by a lot of green land. Secondly, they must be constructed away from a town or city, which means there is a lot of scope for garden villages to create their own identity. Each garden village has a different set up and usually, they have their own schools, shops and transport stations to boost their independence and self-reliance.
Considering its lofty housing target, it’s no shock that the government are backing credible housing schemes like garden villages. It plans to invest £6 million towards funding these 14 new garden villages, as well as a further £1.4 million to support three garden towns. What’s more, every garden village and town will gain access to the £2.3 billion housing Infrastructure Fund, which was put forward in the Autumn Statement last year.
You’ll spot garden villages popping up all over the UK, including in locations around: Cumbria, Derbyshire, Cornwall, Merseyside, Hampshire, Lincolnshire, Stratford-on-Avon, Lancaster, Essex, and Devon, among other destinations. Plans are also in place to build garden towns in Taunton, Aylesbury, and Harlow and Gilston, which are expected to provide an extra 200,000 homes.
When you’re looking at ideas from a bird’s eye view, it’s sometimes easy to miss how these will affect current situation — or in the case of garden villages, local life. Housing Minister, Gavin Barwell, commented:
“The programme is about trying to make sure that we design a community infrastructure — jobs, but also school places, GPs’ surgeries, transport services — that make these places not just dormitory suburbs.”
Garden villages are built with their own facilities, including schools and general practices, so they should instead cause the creation of more jobs and facilities in a district rather than put a strain on current services. Also, these building projects will likely supply Britain with more than 50,000 homes. Consequently, we should witness a rise in manual work and job opportunities in these regions, which will help to drive money to several parts of the UK.
It’s positive news that major services are not likely to be adversely affected, however, an increase in population almost always impacts negatively on transport. More people living nearby usually means more people on roads and using public transport, which could have a negative effect on locals. However, this could be controlled if the garden village has its own transport links and roads for commuting in and out of the area.
Alongside the economic benefits of garden villages for the UK, it seems likely that the gardening and outdoor sector is set to reap rewards from this rise in private gardens and communal areas. Expect higher consumer demand for:
First-time buyers and the government alike are sure to be very excited with the prospect of more garden villages to boost housing availability and boost target-hitting numbers.
Company Witnessed 5000%+ Increase In Northern Irish Home Insurance Sales MINUTES BEFORE Storm Ophelia
A company specialising in providing home insurance has revealed that it sold 5,284% more policies to Northern Irish customers (compared to the daily average between 16th August 2017 and 16th October 2017), just minutes before storm Ophelia hit Ireland last month.
The team at CoverBuilder (www.CoverBuilder.co.uk), which provides home insurance to the growing number of homeowners who have issues finding cover for a multitude of reasons, witnessed a huge influx of home insurance sales from those living in Northern Ireland the same day that storm Ophelia hit the country.
A subsequent poll of 1,039 Northern Irish homeowners aged 21 and over has found that as many as two thirds (66%) have looked into purchasing home insurance or changing their existing policy in the weeks since the storm left more than 50,000 homes and businesses without power.
Just under half of participants (48%) taking part also admitted to researchers that they initially ignored the early warnings of the potential damage Ophelia was capable of causing, blaming the panic on ‘excessive media coverage’.
Rob Rushton, Head of www.CoverBuilder.co.uk, made the following comments regarding the websites activity in the lead-up to the storm:
“As storm Ophelia began trending online and the winds across Northern Ireland reached speeds of 100mph and brought with it devastation across the country, here at CoverBuilder we witnessed a huge amount of panic amongst homeowners on October 16th, with a 5,284% increase in sales of home insurance policies that day compared to the number of policies we write on a standard working day.
“The policies were taken out from 9:00am on the morning of the storm, prior to the worst damage taking place, and subsequently we saw a dramatic fall in enquiries during the afternoon as hundreds of thousands of properties throughout the UK and Ireland lost power. Despite the clear panic from home owners wanting to purchase insurance to protect their properties during such a scary time, we are yet to see any customers make a claim following the storm, hopefully indicating that no substantial damage was caused to any of our cautionary Northern Irish customers.”
Considerate Constructors Scheme’s industry survey reveals more needs to be done to change perceptions and encourage more women into construction
The survey also reveals the main reasons women do not choose to work in construction cited as being:
The UK and Ireland campaign ‘Spotlight on…women in construction’ has been launched by the Considerate Constructors Scheme to boost the much-needed industry effort to attract more women into the construction industry.
The Scheme, which makes around 15,000 monitoring visits to construction sites, companies and suppliers every year, surveyed over 1000 people to find out why women still only represent a meagre 11% of the construction industry workforce. The Campaign provides a variety of practical steps that can be taken to address this issue in the short, medium and long term.
The survey findings also revealed that:
It is clear from the survey, that although some results appear encouraging, there is still a huge amount to be done, particularly in addressing sexism and changing misguided perceptions of what a career in construction offers to women.
‘Spotlight on…women in construction’ pulls together the latest and greatest examples of best practice, case studies from women working across the construction industry, legal requirements and links to useful organisations encouraging women to work in construction.
The Campaign extends the Scheme’s influence in this important area; by complementing the Scheme’s monitoring Checklist which asks several questions about equality and diversity to raise standards across the thousands of Scheme-registered sites, companies and suppliers; and the role of the industry mascot, Honor Goodsite in visiting hundreds of schools across the UK and Ireland every year.
The importance of having role models is absolutely critical. As such, ‘Spotlight on…women in construction’ has interviewed a number of women within the industry to examine what opportunities and challenges they have faced and why construction offers a great career for women of all ages, backgrounds and skills.
Case study contributions include: Roma Agrawal, (Structural Engineer at AECOM and a Director of the CCS); Stephanie Bennett, (trainee Quantity Surveyor, Morgan Sindall); Victoria Betts, (Senior Site Manager, Higgins Construction); Sally Cave, (first qualified female Gas Membrane Installer in the UK); Margaret Conway, (Project Manager for McAleer & Rushe and winner of CIOB Construction Manager of the Year 2017 Award); Michèle Dix (Managing Director, Crossrail 2); Katie Kelleher (Crane Operator, Laing O’Rourke); Eillish Kwai (Employment and Skills Manager, Ardmore); Kath Moore, (Carpenter and Chief Executive, Women into Construction); and Megan Robinson (Technical Coordinator at Barratt Developments plc).
Managing Director for Crossrail 2, Michèle Dix said: “Women are still underrepresented at present but I think we are starting to move in the right direction. We need to recognise the need for more flexible working arrangements, especially if we are to encourage women back after taking time off for children.
“I think there are lots of opportunities out there and one message I would give to my fellow women colleagues is “go for them!”. Be confident in your own abilities. The industry has so much to offer.”
Site Manager for Higgins Construction, Victoria Betts said: “In the time I have been working in the industry there has definitely been an increase in the amount of females working in it. The Considerate Constructors Scheme has been a big driving force in this as it insists on facilities for females that previously would not have been in place.”
Considerate Constructors Scheme Chief Executive, Edward Hardy said: “Thank you to everyone who has contributed to ‘Spotlight on…women in construction’. The Campaign provides a must-read set of resources for organisations and individuals who would like to improve their standards of considerate construction – with the aim of driving greater equality, diversity and inclusion throughout our industry.
“Not only is it imperative that standards must be raised in this area, in order to help encourage more women into the industry, but a more equal and diverse workforce also brings greater collaboration, creative thinking and more inclusive workplaces. This can only be a positive step in helping to improve the image of the UK and Irish construction industries.”
The Scheme will continue to update resources available within ‘Spotlight on…women in construction’ and would be very interested to hear more from the industry on this issue, including further examples of best practice and case studies. Email email@example.com to send in suggestions.
Click here to read ‘Spotlight on…women in construction’.
Artificial intelligence is improving the way we design and build, creating endless opportunities for us to discover. Artificial intelligence is where machines exhibit their own intelligence through using algorithms to solve problems using inputted data. By harnessing robotics, construction managers can utilise intelligent machines that can perform routine tasks that were once completed by humans, such as bricklaying. Alternatively, AI systems can collate and organise information for engineers to use within project planning and design implementation.
Together with Oasys, we assess the way the construction industry is starting to use AI in order to complete projects that contain fewer errors, less omissions, safer working practices, improved workflows and more on-time worksite completions.
We look at the four different areas of AI when it comes to the construction industry with Oasys, specialists in building design software:
From the first stages of construction, AI is there to support the planning. Autonomous equipment is considered as AI as it is aware of its surroundings and is capable of navigation without human input. In the planning stages, AI machinery can survey a proposed construction site and gather enough information to create 3D maps, blueprints and construction plans.
Without the help of artificial intelligence, this is a task that would usually take weeks, but now, it can be achieved within one day. This helps to save firms both time and money in the form of labour.
Controlling the project is important and helps keep everything in the right place – AI is now being used to do this. For example, workers can input sick days, vacancies and sudden departures into a data system and it will adapt the project accordingly. The AI will understand that the task must be moved to another employee and will do so on its own accord.
Databases that have an artificial intelligence focus are helping to direct engineers on how projects they are working on need to be done. For example, if engineers were working on a proposed new bridge, AI systems would be able to advise and present a case for how the bridge should be constructed. This is based on past projects over the last 50 years, as well as verifying pre-existing blueprints for the design and implementation stages of the project. By having this information to hand, engineers can make crucial decisions based on evidence that they may not have previously had at their disposal.
When the construction industry builds tall structures, autonomous machinery is being developed to help drivers remain out of the vehicle whilst it’s working at substantial heights. Using sensors and GPS, the vehicle can calculate the safest route.
Whether the structure was made for commercial reasons or for homes, AI can be implemented inside too. In the US alone, $1.5 billion was invested in 2016 by companies looking to capitalise on this growing market.
Las Vegas hotel Wynn has said that by the end of this year they will have an Amazon Echo in every room within their hotel. These devices can be used for aspects of the room such as lighting, temperature and any audio-visual equipment contained in the room. These systems can also be used within domestic settings, allowing homeowners to control aspects of their home through voice commands and systems that control all electronic components from one device.
Keeping information about structures and how they were built are important and a BIM (Building Information Modelling) can help you achieve this. It allows you to look back on management decisions and much more.
A conversation can be started by virtual assistants, also known as VAs, as well as providing the information that you need. By combining VAs alongside NFC (near-field communication), VAs can be given additional information to the building itself in real-time from various sensors in the building. For example, if there were structural problems with a building, then VAs could inform engineers specifically where the problem was and how it can be fixed.
The use of engineers, AIs and VAs can help save the construction industry a lot of time when it comes to the expected amount of work. As the future of AI becomes more of a reality within construction, only time will tell how reliant upon intelligent machines we will have to be in order to construct innovative building designs.
There are many beautiful listed buildings across the UK. There are a few on the market that could become yours if you can offer the right asking price!
Lycetts, listed building insurance provider, have brought to us ten listed buildings which are on sale right now to help you make your dreams of owning something truly unique a reality:
The location: Castle Eden, County Durham
The grade: Grade II
The construction date: 1765
Main features: Fancy hosting a party for all of the extended family? You’ll never be short of sleeping space in this property. Boasting nine bedrooms and 14 acres of land — there’s enough space for everyone! Also find a stone-style wine vault, a palm house orangery and a cupola dome that will remind you of Rome’s Basilisca as part of the property.
Walking inside The Castle, you’ll find more luxurious furnishings. Features include a sweeping staircase, a formal drawing room, a games room and two storeys of fully-furnished bedrooms complete with bathrooms.
The asking price: £2,990,000
Where is it situated? Water Street, Lavenham, Suffolk, CO10
What is the grade? Grade I
When was it constructed? Information not available.
What are the notable features? You could be the envy of all Harry Potter fans as this property was part of the set of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows. The exterior is designed to impress with exposed timbers, herringbone design, leaded mullions and ornate carved timbers.
Inside is not short of luxury either — a stone spiral staircase which comes complete with a carved brick handrail, a huge timber frame, traditional fireplaces and both Medieval and Tudor wall paintings could all be yours.
How much do you need for it to be yours? £995,000
Where is it situated? Badger, Shropshire, WV6 7JP
What is the grade? Grade II
When was it constructed? Built in the 18th century, though remodelled in the mid-19th century.
What are the notable features? This property has been around for a lot of history — it was once used as either a coach or a cart house. Today however, the property is host to a granary on the first floor with open shelter below, an oak framed orangery and conservatory, integrated double garages and approximately 0.25 acres of private garden space.
How much do you need for it to be yours? £650,000
Where is it situated? Mereworth Road, West Peckham, Kent, ME18 5JH
What is the grade? Grade I
When was it constructed? Early 15th century
What are the notable features? There are exposed timbers and oak doors which are all inspired by the Tudor era. There are plenty of additions that come with this property too — secondary accommodation, a heated swimming pool, tennis courts and a vegetable garden.
How much do you need for it to be yours? £2,975,000
Where is it situated? Renton Road, Dumbarton, G2 4HQ
What is the grade? Grade I
When was it constructed? While an Estate called Dalmoak has been around since the Middle Ages and a structure was in place of today’s building from the 15th century, Dalmoak Castle wasn’t built until between 1866 and 1868 by architect Alexander Watt.
What are the notable features? The castle is recognised by many as a castellated mansion house which comes complete with a tall tower. Once you enter the property you are met with a central hall with an imperial set of stairs, the property’s interior also features a drawing room featuring ceiling plasterwork and scagliola columns and a collection of stained glass windows.
How much do you need for it to be yours? £1,700,000
Where is it situated? Shotesham St Mary, Norfolk
What is the grade? Grade II
When was it constructed? Information not available.
What are the notable features? Living at The Mill House, you’ll always be entertained thanks to the Georgian-fronted property’s four bedrooms and collection of outbuildings. Another attraction is its location — set across from the River Tas.
How much do you need for it to be yours? £695,000
Where is it situated? The parish of Whittington, in Lichfield, Staffordshire
What is the grade? Grade II
When was it constructed? Built in the 17th century, though extended and restored in 1891.
What are the notable features? Famous as one of the first great houses of Staffordshire, this property is not one to be missed. Key features include a 19th century Jacobean style timber fireplace surround that is heavily carved in relief, a parlour designed with floor to ceiling oak panelling and a stair window designed with stained glass and etched with the motto “WHERE ‘ERE / WE ROAM / AN ENGLISH MOTHER / IN AN ENGLISH HOME”.
How much do you need for it to be yours? £825,000
Where is it situated? Viney Hill, Lydney, Gloucestershire, GL15
What is the grade? Grade II
When was it constructed? The 16th century.
What are the notable features? The size is an impressive feature of this house. The 16th century manor house is host to four bedrooms and over an acre of gardens too.
How much do you need for it to be yours? £750,000
Where is it situated? Honiton, Devon
What is the grade? Grade I
When was it constructed? Estimated to have been built circa 1500s, though extended and modernized in 1937.
What are the notable features? A remarkable staircase is one memorable feature of this property. It was once described as a “remarkable staircase of heart and oak” by Richard Polwhele when covering his History of Devonshire.
The property is built from local flintstone and includes impressive features such as an old bread oven and a beamed dining room. Gardens surround the chantry where a thatched summerhouse sits and huge glasshouse. There is also a small stream that borders the property.
How much do you need for it to be yours? £775,000
Where is it situated? Wilton, Ross-On-Wye, Herefordshire, HR9 6AD
What is the grade? Grade I
When was it constructed? Originally built circa 1300, though partly demolished to make way for a house in the 16th century which then became ruinous, and was thus adapted into a reduce house during the early part of the 19th century.
What are the notable features? The location is one impressive feature of this property as it sits across from the River Wye.
Recently the subject of an impressive restoration programme, the Castle features architecture from a range of eras including the Norman, Tudor, Elizabethan, Georgian and Victorian eras alike. It is also home to the spectacular Great Tower, Medieval castle walls and the ruins of a Tudor manor house.
How much do you need for it to be yours? £1,495,000
De Vere House:
The Old Coach House:
The Mill House:
Whittington Old Hall:
Redesigning the site of a former Leicester bus depot as a major new student living complex has earned maber architects and contractors Winvic the prize for Large Residential Scheme of the Year at the 2017 ProCon Awards.
Lumis student accommodation at Southgates in the city’s Cathedral Quarter, close to De Montfort University, provides 567 bedspaces and a host of other attractions, including a gym, cinema and study areas.
The £28.5 million development was developed with client Viridis Real Estate and CRM Student Management, and comprises four blocks around a central courtyard, and took 75 weeks to build.
Mark Jones, Winvic Construction’s Director for Multi-Room, said: ‘We are delighted to receive the award, it is a great testament to our client, the design team, our project team and the supply chain for the delivery of such a high quality group of buildings. We look forward to working with the team again in the near future.’
Midlands-based practice maber, which was established in 1983 and recently celebrated the tenth anniversary of its Leicester office, provided architectural, interior and landscape design.
The practice’s Managing Director, Mark Hobson, said: “It’s great to see our work in Leicester earning another award. This is a terrific development and, for us, an opportunity to employ a full range of the design skills we have in house in Leicester and at our offices across the Midlands.”
Architects, contractors, developers and consultants worked together to optimise the use of the 7,500 sq m site, which now provides a 50/50 mix of studios and cluster bed groups of varying sizes.
Features designed to minimise long-term energy use include a “fabric first” approach with active energy management, combined heat and power, and uses low carbon energy from the District Heating Scheme.
High quality interiors suitable for the student market have been used, including neutral, modern finishes to minimise maintenance and take into account the need for robustness and ease of cleaning and replacement.
The central courtyard provides spaces that can be used for quiet study, relaxing, socialising or performance. Features have been introduced to facilitate and encourage interaction between students. An amphitheatre adjacent to the internal social lounge connects inside and out while an area for quiet retreat in the courtyard has sculptural attractive seating.
Sponsored by Infrastructure Investments, the award was presented at the annual ProCon Leicestershire event at Leicester City’s King Power stadium. The development previously earned Winvic Construction the silver award for best national site in the Considerate Constructors scheme.
For a drone’s eye view of the development, visit
Construction consultancy MPG has been instructed on new projects highlighting two key issues for the sector.
Responding to new heat network regulations, Regal Homes has hired MPG to carry out heat network notifications of their residential apartments property in Bedford Row, Holborn, London. Earlier this year, MPG warned that tens of thousands of landlords face unlimited fines because they have yet to get to grips with the legislation: http://www.mpgqs.com/act-now-on-heat-network-rules-to-avoid-fines/
Michael Gallucci, Managing Director of MPG, says many individuals and organisations have missed the deadline for notification. “It is pretty clear that people are perplexed by the requirements for metering,” said Mr Gallucci. “I would urge people to seek professional advice.”
In another project, MPG has been instructed by an M&E Contractor to resolve a dispute relating to time and final account on a 160-apartment development. The case highlights a growing number of disputes and legal claims in the construction sector.
Meanwhile, the consultancy is providing dispute advice to an MEP Contractor involved in works at Bank tube station where Transport for London is building a new southbound running tunnel to carry a diversion of the Northern line together with a new passenger platform and passenger concourse.
On the International scene, with the launch of the much more extensive FIDIC Yellow Book this month, MPG has warned contractors that effective programmes are essential to protect their interests: http://www.mpgqs.com/programmes-vital-for-contractors-as-new-fidic-yellow-book-raises-the-bar/
“Programmes are absolutely vital when claiming for delays or combating counter-claims,” said Mr Gallucci. “They become yardsticks against which to measure the effects of delays.”
In other project wins, MPG has been hired by estate and property management company Principia to manage the refit of a boiler house, including the tendering process, for a 20-apartment residential property.
The consultancy joined a team of experts to carry out inspections and prepare a ten-year planned and preventative maintenance report for a 48-flat property in St John’s Wood, London, built in 1970 and comprising three blocks around a central tower.
MPG has also been providing commercial assistance to an M&E Contractor working on a complex public realm project in central London, and was recently commissioned to price tender for a new build scheme in Harrow.
Following a record year, SD Sealants, the UK’s leading sealant and cosmetic repair company, is expanding its workforce in Leeds with a new office opening this month.
The company, which provides sealant application and cosmetic repairs for homeowners, house builders and commercial businesses, has seen rapid growth in the past few months and has created a total of 50 jobs across the UK in 2017.
Nick Jones, Managing Director of SD Sealants, comments on the new opening: “We are an ambitious company and want to continue the outstanding year we had in 2016. So far this year, we have had an increase in sales and contracts every month.
“In particular, the North East has been a big growth area and we are hoping to improve on that by expanding our offices in Leeds to help us make 2017 another record-breaking year.”
The office, which opened on the 1st November, houses 20 staff across cosmetic repairs, sealant and tiling services and SD Sealants are currently recruiting for a number of positions to be based at the new branch.
Nick adds: “By taking on new staff we have increased our capacity and so far, it has been a sound business move. However, we still have vacancies in all areas of the business, and the country, with a range of opportunities for people to take advantage of.”
Launched in 1973, SD Sealants and Cosmetic Repairs originated as a family run business in Somerset that specialised in the supply and application of sealant.
Since then, the business has gone from strength to strength, becoming one of the UK’s largest sealant and cosmetic repair companies, with nine offices across England, Scotland and Wales. It launched a tiling division earlier this year and is the UKs only dedicated online retailer of Sika products.
In addition to expanding its office space, SD Sealants has appointed a new Sales Manager for the Northern and Scotland regions of the business. Tony Dyson has joined the company to aid the expansion process and build on the successes of the cosmetic repairs service seen already this year.
Tony has over 10 years of experience in the sealant business and was previously a sales expert in the tourism industry before coming on board with SD.
He will be working primarily from the expanded Leeds office and will be promoting the business commercially to housebuilders and developers in the Scottish and Northern areas.
Managing Director Nick comments on the appointment: “Building on the success of our sealant services this year, we’re excited to have someone with as much experience as Tony to help maximise the cosmetic repairs side of the business. Our cosmetic repairs division has gone from strength to strength, and we’re looking forward to driving this service forward next year.
“Our repair technicians receive the highest level of training and are incredibly skilled in their field, so it’s never been a better time to start expanding this workforce and developing the business further. We look forward to welcoming new recruits on board in the coming weeks.”
For more information on recruitment opportunities, visit SD Sealants vacancies page.
Winter is coming, and employers need to watch out for the risks that the cold season with its shorter days brings to construction and utility personnel working and travelling outdoors.
Vocational learning specialist Develop Training Ltd (DTL) points out employers have a duty of care to protect their employees, even in the absence of a legal minimum working temperature limit. Failing to do so, if it results in injury, could lead to prosecution. Managers should also realise that employees suffering from cold will be less able to do their jobs and may be more likely to make a hazardous error, DTL says.
The scale of the risks can range from reduced dexterity with cold fingers to loss of limbs due to frostbite or even death from hypothermia.
The first step to prevention if you are an employer or manager is to carry out a risk assessment to ensure you are not putting people in danger. This should take into account factors such as air temperature, wind chill, clothing, protective equipment such as gloves, rest breaks, respite areas such as heated on-site cabins, and the availability of food and hot drinks.
The risks posed by the cold are exacerbated by wind chill and wet weather while shorter, cloudier days often mean reduced visibility, which can be a safety risk in operational areas as well as on the road.
If suitable steps are taken to plug any gaps following the assessment, this should avoid any serious problems, but it’s still important that employees and supervisors know what do if they or any of their workmates start to show symptoms of a cold-related condition.
The HSE’s relevant recommendations for modifying the work environment include erecting barriers that shield or insulate the work area and redesigning jobs to remove the employee from the area or restricting the length of time he or she is exposed to cold conditions. You can also look at reducing the amount of work and the rate at which it is expected to be completed for the same reason. Introducing mechanical aids may be an option to help employees who are wearing a lot of clothing. If employees are required to wear uniform, it should be evaluated for thermal comfort.
When it comes to monitoring employees, they should be properly supervised and receive appropriate training. You may need to consult an occupational health professional for employees who are pregnant, have an illness or disability, or are on medication
On the move
With winter comes more wet weather, employees on the move should be properly trained to ensure they drive safely in adverse conditions. Driving in the wet can be deceptively dangerous. Useful tips include: