Sunday, 29 March 2009

Torre Pendente di Pisa

Constructed in 1174, at a time when the Pisans were enjoying an era of military success, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, located in Pisa’s Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles) is famous not only because of its striking beauty but also because of its awkward geometry। It served as the bell tower of the equally impressive Cattedrale (Cathedral) and Battistero (Baptistry), and, as a result of the poor swampy soil beneath, has leaned almost since construction first started. Today, one side is five metres (16ft) closer to the ground than the other. Galileo used the tower for experiments to prove his theory of motion whilst he was chair of mathematics at the Universit√† di Pisa (Pisa University) in 1589.

Tower scaffolds are also known to lean at an angle after they have been erected. But this is not because of swampy soil but because operatives (assuming the towers have been erected correctly to begin with) have adjusted them afterwards.

One seemingly logical response from an operative was that the ceiling was at a slope so he had had adjusted the legs to suit the slope of the ceiling। Consequently of course the working platform was at an angle.

And so was he.

There were also no toe boards so there was nothing to stop material rolling off the sloping platform.

Regulation 4(1)(a) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 states that: "Every employer shall ensure that work at height is - (a) properly planned".
Regulation 8(a) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 states that: "work should comply with the schedule outlining edge protection".
Regulation 12(2) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 states that: "scaffolding towers should be inspected before use".

Saturday, 14 March 2009

When is a Designer Not A Designer?

Corbusier didn't know how lucky he was.

He had it easy.

He didn't have to contend with Regulations 11 and 18 of the CDM Regulations or how he would clean his windows.

Also there was no such far reaching definition of a "designer" or "design" as that under the CDM Regulations.

The definition of a “designer” under the CDM Regulations is:

“designer” means "any person (including a client, contractor or other person referred to in these regulations) who in the course or furtherance of a business-
(a) Prepares or modifies a design: or
(b) Arranges for or instructs any person under his control to do so,
relating to a structure or to a product or mechanical or electrical system intended for a particular structure, and a person is deemed to prepare a design where a design is prepared by a person under his control”


The definition of “design” under the CDM Regulations is:

“design” includes "drawings, design details, specification and bill of quantities (including specification of articles or substances) relating to a structure, and calculations prepared for the purpose of a design;”

The Approved Code Of Practice (ACOP), Page 2, states:

"It does not matter whether the design is recorded (for example on paper or a computer) or not (for example it is only communicated orally.")

Refer to the ACOP but NOTE VERY BENE that clause 116 (b) states that designers also include for:

(b) anyone who specifies or alters a design, or who specifies the use of particular method of work or materials, such as a design manager, quantity surveyor who insists on specific materials or a client who stipulates a particular layout for a new building."

Thursday, 12 March 2009

WEF: 12 March 2009 Afternoon Tea Parties Are Cancelled

Poor old Fatty Ratty.

The knives are out.

After months of "WANTED" posters for Fatty Ratty and warning notices that unless all food is put away in sandwich boxes or similar the men are finally responding.

There will be no more iced buns or home made Latvian delicacies left out on the canteen tables for Fatty Ratty's afternoon tea parties and midnight feasts.

And he has now lost so much weight he will need to buy some new clothes.

The threat of Fatty Ratty has left us (he's off shopping) and so has the risk of Weil's Disease.

Weil's Disease is a serious and sometime's fatal infection that is transmitted to humans via contact with urine from infected rats.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Just Why Wouldn't I Go Up That Ladder Today?

Especially when I was told that everyone is and have been doing so all day?

Clue 1: In laywoman's terms: "It's dodgy"

Clue 2 : It's not tied/clipped in at least two places;


It's also leaning about 20 degrees to the right;

There is a damaged rung;

It's upside down;

It's too short;

The stile is split;

And it's at the wrong angle.

The question should really be "Why would I?"

The HSE advise that: "On average 13 people a year die at work falling from ladders and nearly 1200 suffer major injuries. More than a quarter of falls happen from ladders."

There are some excellent leaflets and guidance notes available from the HSE, for example:

HSE - Falls from height: Ladder pre-use checks

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Why is CDM 1994 Still Being Referred To Although Long Superseded?

I have just been issued a set of tender documents to review for a contractor.

Bearing in mind it 1s 2009 and the CDM Regulations 1994 have long been superseded, why are references in the documents still being made to a "Planning Supervisor", "CDM 1994", and a "pre construction health and safety plan. "

Even the website for companies/organisations who wish to register for work/tenders on the 2012 Olympics projects still refer to a "Planning Supervisor".

No wonder I've had no enquiries as I have registered as a CDM Coordinator.

The key differences between the 1994 and 2007 CDM regulations are as follows:

Regulations are re-ordered to group duties together by duty holder and to show whether individual provisions apply to all projects, only notifiable projects, or only non-notifiable projects. (The definition of ’Notifiable‘ is unchanged, but the application provision relating to fewer than five workers on site has been removed).

Work for domestic clients no longer needs to be notified.

The client’s agent and developer provisions are removed. Under CDM 2007, a group of clients involved in a project can now elect one or more of its members to be the only client(s).

The role of planning supervisor ceases to exist. The ’CDM co-ordinator’ is introduced to support and advise the client and to co-ordinate design and planning.

The appointment of a CDM co-ordinator, principal contractor and a written health and safety plan are only required for notifiable projects (but demolition work requires a written system of work).

Duty holders cannot accept an appointment/engagement unless they are competent to carry it out. Additionally, they cannot arrange for, or instruct anyone, to carry out or manage design or construction work, unless that person is competent (or being supervised by someone who is).

Assessment and demonstration of competence is simplified.

There are general co-operation and co-ordination duties on everyone involved in a project (relating to others on the same or adjoining sites).

Clients now have the duty, (which already exists in the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and Management Regulations) to take reasonable steps to ensure that managerial arrangements made by duty holders (including time and other resources) enable construction work to be carried out, (any related structure designed for use as a place of work can be used), without risk to health or safety. Clients have the duty to ensure that the arrangements are maintained and reviewed throughout the project.

Clients must tell designers and contractors how much time they have, before the start of work on site, for planning and preparing construction work.

For notifiable projects, designers are prohibited from doing anything more than initial design work before the CDM co-ordinator has been appointed.

Designers in preparing or modifying a design are required, so far as is reasonably practicable, to avoid risks to the health or safety of any person using a structure designed as a workplace. They must eliminate hazards which may give rise to risks and reduce risks from any remaining hazards.

The civil liability exemption has been removed in relation to the employer/employee relationship. The management regulations have already been amended along these lines.

Various definitions have been changed.

Graffiti, Hieroglyphics and Palaeolithic Paintings

Over the last ten years it is noticeable that the extent of graffiti found on building sites has gradually depleted and the larger national contractors will now have a zero tolerance policy.

I have generally always ignored graffiti and found that if I was to try and decipher what was written on the wall I would need either access to the Rosetta stone or an anatomical dictionary. In any case I also now need to have a smattering of Polish and that I don't have.

However, when you discover that a young 19 year old has just not turned up for work one day and not explained why (when he apparently loved his job and loved working on a building site) you do need to find out why.

A few telephone calls later and you discover that the graffiti in the loos and various other places on site had been somewhat too personal and it was apparent that the boy was being bullied.

A few meetings later, a can or two of white paint, the graffiti has now stopped and the boy has returned to work.

Work Related Violence (WRV)

Under Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act, an Employer has a legal duty to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of their employees.

This duty includes risk arising from violence at work.

The HSE defines work related violence (WRV) as:
“any incident in which a person is abused, threatened, or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work.”

This can include verbal abuse as well as physical attacks.

Bullying, (psychological or otherwise), harassment, abusive or threatening behaviour by one employee to another, can not be tolerated under any circumstances whatsoever.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Incentives and Disciplinary Procedures- The Gold Plated Hard Hat Or The Wooden Spoon?

Breaches of site rules occur daily and frequently on building sites. They shouldn't but they do.

When you ask an operative, for example as to why they have come to site wearing what look remarkably like their bedroom slippers they are surprised that you do not consider their reasoning acceptable and dumbfounded when you ask them to leave site and return only when they are wearing safety boots.

Answers for why they are not wearing site boots have ranged from:

"I left them under my bird's bed" to "My feet have grown".

They may have and they might have but that's not the point.

So how do you ensure that all your site operations (including any sub-contractors) comply with site safety rules and procedures and put into practice everything taught at safety training sessions?

One company I visited awarded a very large wooden spoon to the worst performing subcontractor over the previous month and a gold painted hard hat to the best performing subcontractor (Unfortunately the hard hat cannot be worn as it has now been defaced - see Easter Bonnets below).

Another Company re inducts the operative and deducts one hour's pay at the end of the month.
And another Company re inducts on a Friday afternoon (late) and the re induction lasts for two hours.

Somehow, the Friday afternoon disciplinary action serves also as an incentive.

Seminar: The Site Waste Management Plans Regulations 2008.

A short lunch time seminar which will take place at your own offices and aimed at those who find they have another raft of legislation to deal with:

The Site Waste Management Plans Regulations 2008.

The scope of the seminar will include for:

• Introduction To The Site Waste Management Plan Regulations 2008;
• What you need to tell your Client;
• The Site Waste Management Plan;
• The Purpose Of SWMPs;
• Benefits To The Environment And Society;
• Client’s Obligations;
• Principal Contractor’s Obligations;
• Legal Duties;
• Who Is Involved In Producing The SWMP;
• Good Practice Waste Minimisation And Management;
• The Design Stage;
• Why Is Waste Minimisation Important;
• Project Between £300,000 And £500,000.00;
• Projects Over £500,000.00;
• Who Should Write And Implement A SWMP;
• What Should Be Recorded In A SWMP;
• What Happens When The Project Is Completed;
• Keeping SWMPs;
• Regulating SWMPs.

£250.00 + VAT per seminar for up to ten people for companies within the M25. The seminar will take approximately one hour.
The cost is valid till 1 August 2009.

Monday, 2 March 2009

"How to Stay Safe on Site"

  • A short lunch time seminar which will take place at your own offices aimed at those new to building sites (or those a little longer in the tooth) who would like to know what contractors should be doing to ensure safety on site and what they should be doing (or not doing when they walk around site).

    The scope of a Staying Safe on Site seminar includes for:

    Why The Contractor Should Induct You and Signing In;
    •Duties Of The Contractor;
  • Your Duties;
    •PPE (And What Not To Wear);
    •Fire Plan;
    •Scaffolding (And When Not To Go On It);
    •Tower Scaffolds;
    •Ladders And When Not To Use One (Even If Everyone Else Is)
    •Hazards To Be Aware Of To Include For:
    o Welding;
    o Noise;
    o Tripping;
    o Access Walkways and “Mind the Gap”;
    o Heights And Operatives Working At Height.

    Cost: £250.00 plus VAT for up to ten people.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Easter Bonnets

No sooner has Valentine's Day passed and I find that some of the operatives are now thinking about Easter and have started decorating their hard hats.

However, they are not using pretty ribbons or bows or Easter bunnies..........

Much to their bewilderment two of the boys were sent to the store for replacement hats and much to their vehement objections they will be charged for the cost of the new hats by the Contractor for defacing company property.

You should not deface, alter or modify your hard hat in anyway whatsoever. This is includes drilling holes and altering the strap. Do not wear woolly hats or balaclavas underneath.

The hard hat is designed to provide maximum protection when worn as manufactured and as intended and any alteration can severely affect this protection.

CDM In a Nutshell -Lunchtime Seminar

A short lunch time seminar and aimed at those who find they are still getting to grips with the CDM Regulations 2007 or are seeking clarification.

The cost and details of the lunchtime seminar held in your own office is £250.00 + VAT per seminar for up to ten people. (within the M25).

The scope of the seminar will include for:

• CDM Regulations – An Overview
• The Role Of The Client;
• The Role Of The Designer;
• The Role Of The CDM Coordinator;
• The Role Of The Principal Contractor;
• The Health And Safety File;
• The Preconstruction Information Package;
• The Construction Health and Safety Plan;
• The F10 Notice;
• Risk Assessments;
• Application Of The Regulations.

The CDM Seminar can be extended over a morning or afternoon to allow for greater in depth examination of the Code of Practice and the regulations for a cost of £650.00 + VAT. Again for up to ten people.