Tackling Fire Safety on Your Construction Site

A fire risk assessment is likely to be one of many the site manager must complete and keep on top of. It is a requirement of legislation for the responsible person (employer or persons in charge) to ensure a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment is complete.

This is something which needs carrying out for any premises which are non-domestic. And when you hire 5 or more members of staff, you must have a written record of this. However, it’s still a good idea if you don’t as it acts as proof that you’re fulfilling your duties.

It is necessary to review the risk assessment regularly to account for any changes which may have occurred. You may find this is something you have to complete as your construction site evolves.

New fire hazards can present themselves as the people plying their trade, and machinery, changes. And as the plans rise up from the ground, it’s possible that evacuation routes and assembly points will have to change.

Keeping on top of this means you’re one step ahead and can help to prevent a fire before the issue arises.

The Risks

A fire needs three elements to burn. Oxygen, heat and fuel.

Removing one or more of those elements stop a fire from starting, and will also mean a fire cannot continue to burn.

The first job of a fire risk assessment is to identify these potential sources of ignition and fuel and reduce their potential to cause harm.

Next, you identify the people who are most at risk if there is a fire, and you really do need to consider everyone. Contractors, visitors, security staff, young people, disabled people, those in nearby premises, and a lot more besides.

You must consider all the people who use your site or could potentially become affected should something go wrong.

Taking Action

Taking into account everything you found, you then evaluate, remove and reduce the fire risk, and have measures in place to protection individuals.

For example, this may involve making changes to the storage of equipment, tools, and materials. But it will also involve putting procedures in place to help keep everyone protected, such as a method of fire detection and warning.

You will need to ensure you have measures in place for raising the alarm, whether that’s using site alarms, a rotary bell or gas horn. And you mustn’t forget to have fire extinguishers installed at designated fire points which can be grabbed quickly to prevent a small fire from escalating quickly. It’s best to have water for general fires, foams for flammable liquids, and CO2 for electricals.

And when hot works are carried out, like welding or soldering, ensure the area is clear of combustible materials and that you have an appropriate fire extinguisher nearby.

Record, Plan, Train and Review

It’s good practice to then record your findings and actions taken. Then, with a plan in place, stating evacuation routes, assembly points, and who call the fire service, it is a good idea to ensure everyone is aware of what they should do in the event of an emergency. This may include how to use the fire extinguishing equipment you will have provided.

Plus, after selecting a few people who can take on fire warden duties, they will also need additional training. They will assist in the event of an emergency and also help you to keep on top of your fire safety responsibilities. After all, the more people you have keeping an eye on fire safety, the better-equipped everyone is to prevent one.

Just remember to make sure your fire risk assessment is kept up to date.

To find out more information about fire risk assessments and fire safety equipment for construction sites, visit http://www.fireprotectiononline.co.uk/site-safety .

 

from The UK Construction Blog http://ukconstructionblog.co.uk/2017/11/24/tackling-fire-safety-on-your-construction-site/

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FORUM STRESSES NEED FOR FIRMS TO RESPOND TO APPRENTICESHIP LEVY

Businesses have yet to get to grips with the biggest change to apprenticeships in living memory.

That was the verdict on the Apprenticeship Levy from leading HR and operational professionals in the utilities and construction sector at an Industry Skills Forum, which featured SGN, Siemens, Interserve, Skanska UK, Morrison Utility Services, FCC Environment, Develop Training Ltd (DTL) and Mentor Training Solutions.

The consensus among delegates at the event, co-organised by DTL and Mentor Training Solutions, is that many firms still don’t understand the levy. In some quarters it is widely viewed as a tax, in others managers are simply holding fire on making decisions about setting up apprenticeships given continued uncertainty.

Chris Wood, Chief Executive of DTL, which specialises in the utilities, energy and construction sector, said the forum raised important issues about the need for firms to recognise the implications of the levy and to respond appropriately: “This is a sea change in the world of apprenticeships, and businesses need help to navigate through it. Our role is not only to deliver apprenticeship training but also to advise clients on how to select and train coaches and mentors for their apprentices from among their existing workforce. For many businesses, that will be a crucial limiting factor in how many apprenticeships they can deliver.”

Firms have two years from their initial levy payments, which started in April this year, to draw down funds so many are taking their time before making a decision. However, the way the system is structured means that delay may mean they will be unable to recoup everything they pay into the levy.

Nevertheless, several delegates warned against rushing into setting up apprenticeships, which would typically cost more to operate than would be paid for by the levy. There is also the risk that recruitment standards could be compromised by a race to hire new apprentices.

Instead, firms should look at their business needs – both in recruitment of new apprentices and training of existing personnel – and set up apprenticeships to meet those needs.

Speaking at the event, Simon Yorke, technical adviser at City and Guilds, urged businesses to see the levy as an opportunity. It should be viewed as an investment, he said, and forecast that now that firms have to pay for apprenticeships themselves, they would demand a better return on that investment.

Steven Green, provider engagement manager at Energy and Utilities Independent Assessment Service, said that firms have to work hard to agree new standards for apprenticeships that are replacing existing framework agreements. He encouraged more businesses to get involved in the process.

www.developtraining.co.uk

from The UK Construction Blog http://ukconstructionblog.co.uk/2017/11/23/forum-stresses-need-for-firms-to-respond-to-apprenticeship-levy/

STRONG, RELIABLE CONCRETE REPAIR…SIKA’S GOT IT CRACKED

With winter almost upon us, the anticipated damp and sub-zero temperatures will provide a severe test of the quality of the concrete used to build structures old and new. Over time, frost and ice will do its best to debilitate a building by finding its way into cracks caused by any one of a number of issues. Excess water in the concrete mix; improper strength of concrete poured on-site; conditions too cold for effective application…these are just some of the reasons fissures, which are susceptible to the freeze/thaw process, resulting in crack-widening and the structural integrity of the concrete being tested.

Fortunately, Sika has a proven, high-performance solution for crack repair in newly-poured and refurbished concrete. Sikadur®-52, an injection or poured epoxy resin, provides a reliable seal for a wide range of structural or non-structural applications and uses such as joint and hole filling; crack and void sealing. Easy to mix and apply, Sikadur®-52 is ideal for dry and damp concrete surfaces in horizontal and vertical locations.

Crack repair using Sikadur®-52 couldn’t be simpler. The crack itself doesn’t need to be cut out or the area widened before filling. Sikadur®-52, with its low viscosity, permeates into the smallest of cracks to provide a permanent seal. Impermeable to liquids and water vapour, the system hardens without shrinkage – a vital property when repairing cracks.

As well as offering superb abrasion resistance and mechanical strength, Sikadur®-52 provides excellent adhesion to most construction materials including natural stone, ceramics, fibre cement, mortar, bricks, masonry steel, iron and wood. It is the ideal concrete crack-repair solution for a wide range of infrastructure projects. Slabs, beams and columns found in buildings, bridges and the like are among surfaces ideal for the application of Sikadur®-52.

The upkeep of our infrastructure is not only vital to maintaining elements such as nationwide road and rail routes; neglecting to treat cracks in concrete structures sooner rather than later can lead to greater damage and costly, time-consuming repairs. This could result in cash-strapped local authorities passing the financial burden of such work onto the community in the form of increased council tax bills.

Prevention is better than cure, as the well-known saying goes, and so it is better to repair concrete when the damage is minimal with a reliable, robust solution such as Sikadur®-52, before greater problems take ahold.

To ensure areas that have been repaired are protected from future environment conditions, such as freeze thaw, concrete facades, column, soffits etc. are coated with anti-carbonation coatings. Sika offers a range of coating solutions, which include water based crack bridging systems, resin coatings and hydrophobic impregnations. In buildings and infrastructure projects these protective systems are applied as part of the future repair and maintenance strategy.

from The UK Construction Blog http://ukconstructionblog.co.uk/2017/11/21/strong-reliable-concrete-repairsikas-got-it-cracked/

CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY MUST OVERCOME THE LATE PAYMENTS PROBLEM

The UK construction industry as a whole tends to cling on to outmoded and inefficient payment practices even when presented with more effective ways of working – a point that is particularly valid when it comes to working capital management and payment processing, writes John Vasili, Director of Business Development at Invapay.

The construction industry has a long-standing problem when it comes to B2B payments. The NSCC & FMB Payment Survey revealed that 40 per cent of businesses are not paid within contracted terms, a third of payments due are late – representing 4.4 per cent of turnover on average – and that subcontractors write off £200 million in late payments and retentions.

Clearly, there’s a need for a more efficient way of processing and making payments – one that will benefit businesses of all shapes and sizes and at all stages in the construction lifecycle, from major contractors right down to specialist subcontractors and general suppliers.

Through our partnership with Open ECX and their WebContractor offer we have developed a combined full-service payment solution, providing construction businesses with a quick and effortless way to manage their payment processes and maximise working capital benefits. The direct and indirect benefits to businesses and their suppliers are multiple.

We find that one of the biggest barriers to the adoption of ePayment processing solutions for many businesses is supplier acceptance – with businesses concerned that the implementation of a revised payment processing approach will have a negative knock-on effect for their suppliers. In our experience, this fear is misguided. Our customers tell us they want to maximise their working capital and to get best use of available credit lines but are concerned about the impact on suppliers.

We solve this issue by simply making payments to the suppliers standard bank account– the supplier doesn’t need to know they are being settled via your working capital or available credit lines; all the while operating in the FCA regulated environment and the assurance that brings.

Our customers benefit considerably and are able to maximise the return on working Capital & to fully utilise any credit lines buyers may have available. They can also make accelerated payments to suppliers, whatever the size, thereby securitising the entire construction supply chain.

Our Open ECX colleagues have also faced concerns over supplier acceptance. Their e-invoicing solution automatically converts and validates PDF invoices received from suppliers, completely removing the need for time-consuming manual entry and eliminating human error.

For suppliers it provides them with the benefit of a reduction in payment delays often caused by traditional processes.

Open ECX has found that supplier adoption is often rapid. One builders’ merchant that stocks more than 13,000 product lines across 13 branches, saw the percentage of e-documents being processed rise from around 25-30 per cent to 60 per cent in a matter of months; this led to huge time and efficiency gains, allowing them to redeploy staff to focus on higher value tasks.

There is absolutely no reason for businesses to continue to operate an outmoded payment approach. There is a tried, tested and regulated alternative delivering major efficiency and cashflow benefits for both sides of the construction supply chain.

And unless we as an industry are willing to adapt, then we are resigned to not achieving the best payment practices, return on working capital and suppliers hindered by late and delayed payments for many years to come.

For more on Invapay’s partnership with Open ECX visit http://openecx.co.uk/maximising-payments-maximising-cash-flow/

from The UK Construction Blog http://ukconstructionblog.co.uk/2017/11/20/construction-industry-must-overcome-the-late-payments-problem/

360 x 360: Autodesk BIM 360’s Data and Collaboration to become immersive through HoloBuilder

HoloBuilder announces partnership with Autodesk’s Connect & Construct Exchange, BIM 360 integration program

SAN FRANCISCO, California – November , 2017 – HoloBuilder Inc., the leading provider of digital construction sites for general contractors and owners, is proud to announce a new partnership with Autodesk, the leader in 3D design, engineering and construction software. The partnership allows customers to seamlessly move between Autodesk’s BIM 360 construction management platform and HoloBuilder’s Construction Solution. This closes the gap between the workflow for 360 reality capturing and virtual walkthroughs as well as document and issue management. The partnership is based on the commitment of both companies to serve professionals in the field and in the office to accelerate delivery, save money and reduce risk. The cross-platform integration is implemented utilizing Autodesk Forge technology. The announcement was made at Autodesk University, the company’s flagship user conference in Las Vegas, which welcomes more than 10,000 Autodesk customers annually.

The integration allows users to add issues to the BIM 360 platform from within their HoloBuilder project. The connection between immersive 360-degree construction documentation and issue management also allows users to virtually walk the construction site and create issues at the same time, without ever needing to leave their desks. Created issues are also linked to their position within HoloBuilder’s documentation so that users can easily find the affected area and understand the context.

HoloBuilder’s integration with BIM 360 eliminates data silos. Users can add documents, like sheets and floor plans, from BIM 360 to the HoloBuilder environment. This ensures that any documents used within HoloBuilder are always up to date. Further functionality which allows customers to link additional information between BIM 360 and HoloBuilder will be released shortly.

“I am excited for this partnership as it allows us to connect and streamline construction project workflows,” Mostafa Akbari, CEO of HoloBuilder. “We have built HoloBuilder from the ground up to save time for our construction customers around the world when capturing reality and sharing this with stakeholders. As we now provide access and a connection to the BIM 360 construction management platform, this eliminates duplicate work and interruptions in the overall workflow, resulting in further efficiency gains.”

“We are thrilled to have HoloBuilder, a leader in 360-degree reality capture, serve as an inaugural member of the Connect & Construct Exchange,” said Sarah Hodges, Director of Autodesk’s Construction Business Line. “HoloBuilder’s seamless integration with Autodesk’s BIM 360 construction management platform is another example of how partnerships like these will make construction safer, simpler, and smarter.”

from The UK Construction Blog http://ukconstructionblog.co.uk/2017/11/16/360-x-360-autodesk-bim-360s-data-and-collaboration-to-become-immersive-through-holobuilder/

The Construction Industry’s Charity Contributions

Homer, the Greek poet, famously said, “The charity that is a trifle to us can be precious to others”. Statistics, as of 2005, estimated that at least 100 million people worldwide were homeless and in the 12 years since, the number has only risen, with over 300,000 homeless in The UK and 1.6 billion worldwide.

The global construction market is currently valued at £6.5 trillion, with an expected growth to £8 trillion in 2020. In the UK alone, over £136 million was spent on construction in 2016, 2.4% up on 2015.

Considering what we just told you about homelessness and the construction industry, it is indeed a contradictory picture that emerges. If construction is one of the largest industries, then how is it that so many people haven’t got a roof over their heads? Poverty, increasing population, and inadequate facilities have led to homelessness even in first world nations such as the United States of America, with New York, Los Angeles and Phoenix all featuring in the list of top 15 cities based on homelessness; a highly ironic fact given that the US’ construction industry contributes $78.4 billion dollars per annum to the country’s GDP. Even more astounding is that fact that about 25% of all homeless people in the world are children. That means every fourth homeless person is a child!

So where do we draw a connection between these two completely opposite yet related aspects of humanity? And where do the deeds of giving and charity come into play, in all of this? Well, charity isn’t only restricted to food and clothing.

Charity and the Construction Industry

The role of charity in the construction industry isn’t a recent development. In fact, substantial evidence of charity in the construction industry can be traced back to the “First Houses” project, a public housing project by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) in 1935. Labor was donated to the project by the Emergency Relief Fund and financed by philanthropist Bernard Baruch. The NYCHA also sold salvaged material from its other clearance projects to raise funding for “First Houses”

Today, many organizations exist worldwide that donate labor and material to various housing and school projects around the world. Construction giants such as Windover Construction and Skanska in the USA conduct independent campaigns and drives to build homes, apartment complexes and educational outreach programs for homeless veterans, the elderly and children. Whilst in the UK, the construction industry’s charity CRASH works with volunteers and patron companies to deliver much needed support to homeless and hospice charities across the country.

How Companies Can Get Involved

Construction companies undertake projects of massive proportions. It’s, therefore, an easily deducible fact that more often than not, there will be excesses of construction material, which is paid for by the consumer but not often utilized. Be it paint, tiles, or any of the other commonly used materials, these can be donated to non-profit organizations. A tiling company could easily donate tiles for the roofing and flooring of children’s homes and orphanages. A company that produces sanitary equipment could donate leftover materials from projects to schools or housing complexes.

Another way that companies can make a difference is by tying up with organizations such as CRASH or  Habitat for Humanity International, a not-for-profit organization that helps end homelessness around the world through its many branches. The organization accepts professional services as well as materials such as lumber, paint, equipment, trucks, tools, appliances, and fixed furnishing towards its campaigns, either as a donation or at a discounted amount in return for tax deductions.

For example, donors have the option of donating “gifts-in-kind”, a tax-deductible gift of services, labor, or materials of value to the organization. These could include shingles, plumbing services or tools, or even a donation of land.

Also, it’s not merely housing projects that can be undertaken by construction companies. Creativity can lead, with children’s playgrounds, donated land with simple recreational facilities or even skating rinks, all requiring the most basic construction materials. Building schools and libraries for communities that lack these facilities can go a long way in the realm of literacy for the poor.

The simplicity of charity in relation to construction industries lies in their architectural efficiency.  For example, building apartments can minimize the materials and space required to relocate a community. When it comes to orphanages, hospices and other organizations, an association with a company committed to bettering the society and fulfilling its corporate social responsibility is desirable. Therefore, construction companies could fulfill their Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) by donating to organizations such as Mellon Educate to help further several housing projects.

With frequent news of hurricanes, earthquakes and the like, another important aspect of charity in construction is the building of safer houses in high-impact regions. Further, the materials that once supported a structure can be reused to the best of its ability, especially under the experienced eye of an architectural company. Sustainable housing and development fall within the same realm, as simpler housing complexes imply cheaper livelihoods. This would mean that people living below the poverty line or who are homeless would be able to gain a roof over their heads, at almost zero cost.

To quickly recap, these are the ways in which construction companies could lend a charitable hand:

  • Donating excess or leftover material from previous projects, such as wood, tiles, sanitary equipment, concrete, cement, and so on.
  • Donating land to build houses and schools and even recreational spaces for children.
  • Fulfilling their CSR by donating monetarily or in-kind.
  • Provide assistance during disasters.
  • Provide expert services and labor in the form of employees and volunteers.

Make a Difference

As Thomas Fuller said, “Charity begins at home, but shouldn’t end there”. The possibilities of giving are endless if only the opportunities are recognized. Given the state of homelessness on a global level, every small step counts towards bettering lives, whether it’s a donation of your time or resources. Charity isn’t exclusive to any field; every field has something to give or can find something to give! Construction companies make a difference with the many projects they undertake, be it historical buildings, modern work spaces or grand establishments. However, at a very basic level, all of humanity needs a roof over its head. Be a part of a bigger difference.

from The UK Construction Blog http://ukconstructionblog.co.uk/2017/11/14/the-construction-industrys-charity-contributions/

Home Hosting: One Third Of British Homeowners Inspired To Rent Out Their Homes After Rise In Airbnb Popularity

A brand new study looking into ‘home hosting’ has revealed that as many as one third of British homeowners have been inspired to rent out their homes to paying customers thanks to the growing popularity of sites like Airbnb, Tripping.com & HomeAway.

 

Homeowners living in the South East, North West and Wales are the most likely to be intrigued by the potential financial opportunities associated with becoming a home host and renting out their properties or rooms to tourists, with the average homeowner expecting to receive £250 per week from visitors staying at their residence during peak periods of the year.

 

As part of the study, the team at www.coverbuilder.co.uk polled 2,983 adults aged 25 and over, all of whom owned at least one property in the UK, in a bid to uncover how much Britons understand about  home hosting, and how many might be looking to take advantage of the growing industry in the coming years. All those taking part were split evenly across each of the UK regions.

 

All participants were initially asked to disclose if they currently had a property or rooms they owned listed on a site such as Airbnb for travellers to stay in, with less than one in ten (7%) claiming that they did. A further 28% of respondents admitted that, although their homes weren’t yet listed on a home hosting site, it’s something that they were planning on doing in the future after seeing others do so.

 

When asked to state their main motivation behind renting out their property, or rooms within a home, the majority (78%) admitted that they were financial and profit-focused.  12% admitted it was ‘in order to introduce family to new people from all around the world’, with 3% confessing that they’d be joining ‘in order to enjoy the company of others and feel less lonely at home’.

 

Relevant participants were then asked to disclose their approach to using home hosting sites, with just over a fifth (21%) stating they’d be advertising their property on a hosting site year-round, with the remaining 79% doing so during peak periods when a local city or town has an event that tourists are likely to flock to.

 

Next, those already renting out a property or rooms, as well as looking to rent out their homes, on a hosting site were asked to state how much money they’d be hoping to make through renting out their home, per week, during peak periods. The average amount emerged as £250.

 

In order to uncover the areas of the UK with homeowners most likely to be using, or planning to use, a home hosting website in the future, researchers analysed answers to reveal the geographical breakdown of participants, with the number of those interested in home hosting revealed as follows:

 

  • South East – 16% (of those using or looking to list their property on a home hosting site lived here)
  • North West -14%
  • Wales – 12%
  • London – 11%
  • Scotland – 10%
  • South West  – 7%
  • West Midlands – 6%
  • Northern Ireland – 6%
  • Yorkshire and Humberside -6%
  • East Midlands -5%
  • East of England – 5%
  • North East – 2%

Finally, all relevant participants were asked if the thought of visitors damaging or causing harm to their property had put them off renting out homes or rooms on hosting sites, with the vast majority (68%) admitting that it had done. Furthermore, just 18% had either purchased or looked into specialist home insurance required to protect those using home-sharing services.

 

Rob Rushton, Head of coverbuilder.co.uk said:

 

“Tourists are increasingly looking to sites like Airbnb in order to experience a more cultural trip and avoid bland or overpriced hotels, and as a result British homeowners living in areas that regularly attract tourism can financially benefit from renting out properties through sites.

 

“Those looking to take advantage of the industry mightn’t be aware, but it’s important to look into specialist insurance for home hosting, as failure to inform your home insurer that you have paying guests occasionally staying at your house could result in them refusing to pay out on an insurance claim you make, even if the claim has nothing to do with a guest.”

from The UK Construction Blog http://ukconstructionblog.co.uk/2017/11/13/home-hosting-one-third-of-british-homeowners-inspired-to-rent-out-their-homes-after-rise-in-airbnb-popularity/