CITB buys plant simulators to fill operator skills gap

The Construction Industry Training Board has forked out £1.2m to buy 16 plant simulators to help train the next generation of operators.


Trainee operators can test drive excavators to cranes in all weather conditions

It is the first large-scale investment in a dedicated virtual training centre as the industry faces the challenge of finding 5,000 new plant operators over the next five years.

The simulators from Sweden and Canada have been installed at the National Construction College in Bircham Newton, Norfolk.

They will be used to train apprentices and trainees in a wide-range of plant machinery, including excavators, cranes, crawler dozers, telehandlers, tractors and dumper trucks.

CITB plans to use this technology to train people for an even wider range of jobs in the future.

The simulators help provide a life-like experience in all weather conditions, while minimising health and safety risks before trainee move onto real machines.

The simulators, from CM Labs in Canada and TenStar in Sweden, also electronically record progress and analyse how learners behave in different scenarios.

Graham McPhail, Head of Education and Training at CITB, said: “This is the first large-scale investment into plant simulator technology anywhere in the UK.

“New methods of technology are playing an increasingly important role in construction and this investment will help us modernise the way we train.”

Josh Missin, a 24-year-old plant apprentice from Wisbech who works with plant hirer Mervyn Lambert, was one of the first to train on the new simulators.

He said: “As someone who had never used any form of plant machinery before, I was quite nervous before doing so.

“However, the simulators allowed me to quickly learn how certain controls worked, which meant I felt much more confident when using the machines in real life.

“They are also good when bad weather would stop us from using the real machines, as you don’t feel like you’ve lost a day’s work.

“They should be used in everyone’s plant apprenticeship training.”

Full courses details and entry requirements are available to view on the National Construction College Apprenticeships pages.

from The UK Construction Blog

Construction Safety In the European Workplace – Perception vs. Reality

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

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

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

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






Mismatch between perception and reality

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

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

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

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

Reasons behind the discrepancies

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

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


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


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

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

from The UK Construction Blog

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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

from The UK Construction Blog


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As a global brand, Sika has the ability to deliver local innovations on a global basis. To find out more about the impact Sika are making every day, visit

from The UK Construction Blog

Gilbert-Ash Awarded British High Commission Project in Ghana

West Africa project is latest for UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

from The UK Construction Blog

Timber Expo set to address safety and quality in buildings

A unique show designed to bring together the leading voices of the construction industry for all in the

built environment

Timber Expo, the UK’s only event dedicated exclusively to Timber, announces its return to Birmingham NEC from 10 – 12 October 2017. Covering a wide range of timber applications, from timber frame through to plywood, CLT and timber cladding, the show will explore the latest developments across the industry as well as new products and innovations from around Europe, for all in the built environment.


Exhibitors from across Europe will be at the show including fastenings and fixings provider, Schmid Scrauben Hainfield; manufacturer, Intumescent Systems, a leader in fire containment technology; Czech distributor of plywood and packing, Orlimex; Latvian sawmill, Vudlande Sawmill, which will showcase the newest form of sawmilling technology at the show, and Gaujas Koks Ltd, which has 25 years of CLT manufacturing and will operate two major sawmills with a total output of 300,000m3 of finished products. This top quality product is not one to be missed.


This year, collaboration with TRADA, the leading authority dedicated to informing best practice design, specification and use of wood and timber in the built environment, will see the Timber Focus Theatre introduce speakers who will explore how the industry is pushing the boundaries on the use of wood, wood for good health, technical timber an how designers are working directly with fabricators.


Students from the Emergent Technologies and Design Programme at the Architectural Association are also developing an innovative timber installation, co-ordinated by TRADA and sponsored by Hanson Plywood. The design derives from extensive research on plywood composite material systems, focused on the integration of doubly curved plywood forms and tensile cables. The design is a development from an initial understanding of ‘tensegrity’ (or floating compression) systems and departs from a pure tensegrity through a three-dimensional structure, where doubly-curved plywood members coexist in equilibrium.


There has never been a more important time to learn about building materials and regulations, which is why the show has introduced a series of free CPDs bringing together leading authorities to deliver advice and guidance on key issues including:

Up to date advise on fire prevention in all types of buildings

Changes to Legislation on Safety

Advice and guidance on construction product safety

Your responsibilities in the construction process and protecting you and your employees


Nathan Garnett, Event Director at Media 10, which runs the show, said: “In addition to showcasing the latest products and innovations across the timber sector, the Timber Expo will deliver the latest information on safety and quality in buildings for all in the built environment, from architects, contractors, local housing authorities, and developers. This is crucial in the current climate and only by coming together, through shared knowledge and learning, will we be able to tackle the issues surrounding building safety head on.”


Consisting of Build Show, Civils Expo, Plant & Machinery Live, Energy 2017, Smart Buildings 2017, Surface & Materials Show (featuring Kitchens & Bathrooms Live), HVAC 2017 and Grand Designs Live, UK Construction Week caters for the entire spectrum of the industry from builders, architects, innovators and consultants, each show provides exhibitors with the opportunity to network alongside decision makers and purchasers while showcasing their services and products to thousands of visitors.


For more information and free registration visit

from The UK Construction Blog