Olympics construction gets top marks for H&S

The London Olympics has been praised for its excellent health and safety record. The huge project which has taken 66 millions man hours to complete has only had 14 injuries sustained.

A report released today by the Health and Safety Executive found that only eight “dangerous occurrences” had been reported.

It is seen as a marker that the entire UK construction industry should look to achieve.

Stephen Williams, HSE’s director for London 2012, said that the project showed safety could be a priority despite the other challenges faced by Olympics schemes: “The report shows how strong leadership and worker involvement are key to a safer working environment.”

He added that the management was crucial, particularly on issues of blame: “The ODA’s creation of a no scapegoating culture allowed workers to raise issues without fear of reprisal, learning lessons to apply across the site and reducing the risk in hazardous activities.”

“London 2012 is important because it shows construction doesn’t have to be one of the most hazardous activities out there.”

He concluded: “I want the rest of the construction industry to follow London’s lead.”

Recipro sourced this article from Building Products.co.uk

Over 1000 UK Construction companies are in serious financial trouble

According to Begbies Traynor’s ‘red flag’ survey there are now 1,214 construction companies that are in severe financial difficulties in the third quarter of this year. That number is an increase of 41% over the last year, when there was just 860 companies in trouble.

Gary Lee, partner at Begbies Traynor, said: “There has been a decline in new construction orders over the last 12 months as the sector is vulnerable to reductions in both capital and revenue spending by the public sector through central and local government and by private sector businesses trying to conserve cash.”

Begbies Traynor class any firm with county court judgements which total £5,000 or more or companies subject to wind-up petitions as being in a critical state.

The good news is there are actually fewer construction companies in less serious financial difficulty than the same period last year.

The number of contractors in ‘significant’ financial difficulty fell from 12,533 to 11,187. This means that there has been a fall of 7% in the number of firms with either significant or critical financial problems between the autumn of 2010 and the third quarter of 2011.

Gary Lee said that the Olympics had been responsible for keeping some businesses in the south east in good health but that elsewhere in the UK the outlook remained difficult.

Recipro sourced this article from Building.co.uk

4,000 small UK builders conned out of £1m

Over 4,000 small UK builders have been conned out of a combined total of £1m by websites which claimed they could find them work.

In most cases the construction workmen paid a registration charge of £300 to websites claiming to provide a database of “trusted” firms to carry out domestic works but never provided any results.

The sites have now been shut down by the High Court following an investigation by the Company Investigations unit of the Insolvency Service.

The Building Trades Database Limited, Quality Build Services Limited, Coast 2 Coast Building Services Limited and MTB Sussex Limited traded between October 2008 and February 2011.

Salespeople working for the sites told the builders that members of the public could submit an enquiry to the company’s website detailing their work requirements to receive a recommendation for an approved builder or tradesman.

Tradesmen were persuaded by cold calling techniques to register as members on the websites operated by the companies in return for the payment of a fee which was usually between£200-£300 plus VAT.

In all nearly £1m was conned by the companies from around 4,000 tradesmen which was paid in commission fees to sales staff and payments to the company’s Directors.

Company Investigations Supervisor Chris Mayhew said: “The Building Trades Database Limited preyed on tradesmen to build up a database business built on seriously misleading and unfounded statements to persuade them to enroll for the purported service.”

“The business effectively migrated from one company to another and the continuing deceit on tradesmen unfortunate enough to have been contacted by these companies is perhaps best illustrated by the discovery that the telephone numbers for the positive testimonials about one of the companies, Coast 2 Coast Building Services Limited, purportedly from two tradesmen, matched those for two mobile telephones found at the company’s former trading address”.

In ordering the companies into liquidation Ms Registrar Barber said: “Each company made misleading and unfounded statements to tradesmen by a variety of methods including cold calling and on their websites in order to lure tradesmen into paying a membership fee.”

“Despite a vigorous investigation into the trading practices of each company, no or insufficient evidence was uncovered, still less was provided by the companies, that anyone who signed up received any work referrals at all or received any commercial benefit.”

Recipro sourced this article from Construction Enquirer.

New report says UK must concentrate on resource efficiency

According to a recent report the UK must concentrate more on recycling and recovering materials, and it must also improve resource efficiency and the durability of consumer products.

The report Reinventing the wheel: a circular economy for resource security published last week (October 5) by the Green Alliance. The study examined the advantages and disadvantages of using pricing to improve the circulation of three crucial major resources – metals, phosphorous and water.

The Green Alliance says there needs to be a more circular use of these resources in the economy, which it claims would avoid some of the damaging, environmental impacts of extracting them as well as avoid the negative impacts of generating waste.

Using information provided by the Designing out Waste consortium, the report makes a number of key policy recommendations. This include improving collection rates and incentives for recovery of materials and introducing recycling rates that focus on specific materials and their quality, rather than simply on tonnages.

It also says that the product must be designed to make recover and reuse easier to prolong its life span. Measures to avoid leakage of valuable materials through exports should also be taken.

The Green Alliance argues that a multi-pronged approach is needed to improve product design, drive up the capture of products at end of life, and ensure that good substitutes are available for materials that will become more difficult to access in the future.

It is calling on the Government to promote economic incentives that encourage the waste and recycling industry to adopt a ‘whole life’ approach to products and materials.

Recipro certainly supports this new report and sees the construction industry playing a huge part in making this happen, with 13% of all construction materials been disposed of before ever being used there is certainly room for improvement.

Recipro sourced this article from Edie.

Construction workloads fall for 15th consecutive quarter

The UK construction industry looks bleak as workloads have now fallen for 15 consecutive quarters.

The warning comes from the latest Trade Survey, taken by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB). The third quarter of this year reveals that workloads have now been falling since 2008.

The survey also shows that most are sceptical about future prospects with 33% of respondents expecting workloads to continue to fall for the remainder of the year.

Richard Diment, Director-General of the FMB said: “When the Chancellor delivers his speech today to the Conservative Party conference he needs to be mindful that the building industry is in a dire state with little hope in the immediate future that things are going to get better.”

“It is hard to think of another period in living memory when the building industry has been so badly hit by an economic crisis.”

“The Chancellor needs to understand that a recovery in the construction sector is essential if it is to deliver economic growth in the wider economy.”

He also said that 44% of FMB builders have reported falling levels of enquiries and the number expecting to increase employment has now fallen to just 16%.

The ever increasing costs of construction materials are also a serious concern to UK builders with 88% expecting prices to increase over the next 6 months.

Diment added: “The Government’s home energy efficiency improvement programme, the Green Deal, which will be launched next year offers a glimmer of hope but without a reduced rate of VAT to help boost consumer demand it is difficult to see any real upturn in building work. “

“A targeted reduced rate of VAT in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement would create tens of thousands of much needed jobs in the building industry as well as stimulating more job creation in the wider economy.”

Recipro sourced this article from Construction Enquirer.

UK Construction Industrys growth slows down

The UK construction industry became “near stagnation” in September, a closely-watched survey has suggested.

The Markit/Cips construction purchasing managers’ index (PMI) dropped from 52.6 in august to 50.1, which is just fractionally above the 50 “no-change” threshold that separates expansion from contraction.

Markit said a decrease in new orders was the reason behind the slowdown, however staffing levels increased slightly.

Confidence in the construction industry remained relatively quiet, the research group said.

On Monday, Markit/Cips data showed surprise growth in the manufacturing sector, with building materials supplier Wolseley, announcing a return to full-year profit but said recent weaker economic forecasts were likely to have an impact on its markets.

Recipro sourced this article from BBC.

Liverpool to be showcased as ‘exemplar city’ at World Urban Forum (WUF)

Liverpool will be showcased as an ‘exemplar city’ at the World Urban Forum (WUF) in Naples, Italy in 2012. This comes after joining the UN-HABITAT World Urban Campaign following a request to join the scheme which was developed by Liverpool Vision, supported by Liverpool City Council.

At a steering group meeting earlier this month in Amsterdam for the World Urban Campaign, Liverpool was endorsed at the highest level.

Liverpool presented a range of case studies to demonstrate the activity and aspirations of public, private and civic organisations. These included Liverpool Waters, The Eldonians District Energy System, Liverpool Commercial District Partnership, Global Entrepreneurship Congress 2012, Liverpool’s Decade of Health and Wellbeing, Rights and Humanity International Centre of Excellence, Women’s International Centre for Economic Development (WICED) Liverpool Food Alliance, and Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

Chief Executive of Liverpool Vision, Max Steinberg, commented: “These are exciting times for Liverpool. We have always said that our city must not stand still and that we must take every opportunity to maintain our momentum and build a more prosperous city.”

“The city has picked up many accolades in recent years and is well-known for its excellence in many sectors, but we are not resting on our laurels.”

“There must be no let up and that is why we opened an embassy in London, it’s why we bid for the GEC, beating other cities from around the world and now joining the UN-HABITAT 100 Cities initiative will allow us to take further steps forward.”

“Being part of this initiative will grant us exposure to a global network of private sector partners that are promoting leading edge practices in sustainable urban development and give us insight into new public private partnerships and models for investment.”

Recipro sourced this article from Construction Now