30th September Journal Column

By Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

Health and Safety has always been one of the main focuses in the industry, but there’s often debates over which is more important. Many projects focus too much on safety rather than health, with even less taking mental health into consideration.
There have been big improvements and preventions put in place to reduce the number of construction related injuries in recent years, but health issues continue to affect workers. With the amount of energy being put into managing physical risk; you have to question whether the industry is getting the health and safety balance right.

Whilst plenty is done to manage safety issues, serious health issues in the past have been ignored, not purposely, I just think there’s confusion over occupational and mental health, about how serious risks can be and how it could all be prevented.
The construction industry needs to pay more attention www.health-canada-pharmacy.com/valium.html to mental health. According to Samaritans, the mental health charity, suicide kills six times as many workers in the sector than those from falls or heights.

Mental health issues can also lead to physical health issues, with anxiety or depression leading to issues such as stomach ulcers and an increased risk of heart attacks. In an industry where workers have such heavy workloads, tight deadlines and high risk work environments, ensuring the emotional wellbeing of staff is so important. Too much stress can make employees less productive; and if it begins to impact their work it can put their own and others’ safety at risk.

Someone in the UK takes their own life every 90 minutes and there were 6,122 recorded deaths by suicide in the UK in 2014, 76 per cent of which were men. This compares with 1,775 people who died in traffic accidents. Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50 and the highest suicide rate is among males aged 45-59.

Companies both small and large have the same concerns, it’s mainly a case of not knowing how to deal with the situation if it arises, but the most important thing is recognising that there is an issue. A survey carried out by the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) and the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA) found that 80 per cent of employers recognised that mental health was a major issue, which is definitely a great place to start.

The construction industry has previously come together to address the challenge it faced in relation to the high number of accidents, and as a result health and safety has dramatically improved over the years. It now needs to come together to do the same for mental health, reducing potential risks and giving workers the help and support they need to deal with issues.
You don’t have to be suicidal to call Samaritans, they’re there to help. Anyone can call for free any time from any phone on 116 123 and the number will not appear on your phone bill.

23rd September Journal Column

Web-LogoBy Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

Next week, 26 September – 2 October, is World Green Building Week (WGBW), a week dedicated to raising awareness of green buildings, showing how they are the most effective means of achieving environmental, social and economic goals- from addressing climate change to creating sustainable homes, businesses and communities.

WGBW brings together Green Building Councils from around the world to create a public conversation about the role buildings play in our sustainable future. With dozens of countries, 75 Green Building Councils and their 27,000 member companies taking part, it’s the biggest and best opportunity each year for us to shine the spotlight on our global movement.

By working together at the same time all over the world, the message is louder and emphasises our collective mission to create sustainable built environments- it shows the industry is dedicated to making a change.

The theme for WGBW this year is; Change Your Perspective, which couldn’t come at a better time. There are so many facts and figures that are more than capable of changing how people think about green buildings. What we’ve been wanting for so long is to get people thinking about the benefits that green buildings bring to global emissions, energies and the economy, and this is the perfect opportunity to do so.

Saving the planet is something we’re all keen to do, everybody wants to be seen as ‘green’, anything from recycling to keeping emissions down by washing at low temperatures will make a difference. But one of the biggest differences that can be made lies within our industry, in house-building.

Companies are always thinking of new innovative ways of being efficient, from soap bubble building to offsite construction and now a French architecture firm, Multipod Studio, have unveiled a prototype for the PopUp House, a customisable home made from stackable blocks. Each house is made from stacked recyclable wooden panels and insulation blocks, all held together with wood screws – think LEGO, but less plastic and colourful.

The house can be designed, ordered, and built in about a month. It can be ordered online with costs varying depending on the quality of the materials and amenities. The house can be whatever you wish, whether it’s a small and cosy home or a spacious open office. Once ordered, the firm sends along building instructions and a construction team, and voila!

A construction team can build it in four days using only an electric screwdriver and it can be disassembled just as quickly. PopUp House is part of a growing sustainable architecture movement called passive construction – homes that are well-designed, low-cost, and energy-efficient. The PopUp House is airtight and watertight, which means it keeps its heat locked in.

Currently, PopUp House is only available in France, but the company plans to expand to the UK and I cannot wait to see this for myself. Think of all those years you spent building LEGO houses, and now you could actually live in one for real!


22nd September 2016 Newsletter

To view this week’s newsletter with upcoming event information including our Annual Charity Golf Day please click here.

16th September Journal Column

Web-LogoBy Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

The Construction 2025 strategy released in July 2013 by the Government looked at how we could continue working together to increase the success of the UK construction sector up to 2025. It’s been three years since the report was released, so by now we should be well on our way to achieving the targets set.

As well as setting ambitious targets for our industry, such as 33 per cent lower costs, 50 per cent lower emissions and 50 per cent faster delivery, the report originally set out five key themes that the Government believe are key to the long-term success of our industry:

  • People- we should be known as an industry that has a talented and diverse workforce
  • Smart- we should be known as an industry that is efficient and technologically leading the way
  • Sustainable- we should be known as an industry that leads the way in low-carbon and green construction exports
  • Growth- we should be seen an industry that drives growth across the entire economy
  • Leadership- we should be seen as an industry with clear leadership from an organisation such as the Construction Leadership Council

Following the latest review for 2016-2020, there are more key themes to add. The updated strategy is more concise and focused than the previous one, focusing on just four strategic priorities; Client Capability, Digital and Data Capability, Skills and the Supply Chain and Whole-Life Approaches.

The new strategy aims to increase productivity in government construction and deliver a further £1.7 billion in efficiency savings from public sector construction – it’s good to have an actual figure rather than just a percentage like we were originally given.

This time the strategy is more realistic, recognising that this is work in progress and there is still much to be done, but a lot can be achieved in nine years. It focuses on the fundamental issues that are holding back the industry from being more productive, such as; leadership, procurement practices, client capability, BIM, collaborative working, skills and whole life costs.

The strategy states that, by implementing the action plan to achieve the strategic priorities, “increased productivity will facilitate forecast efficiency savings of £1.7 billion over the course of this Parliament”. As the strategy states these forecasts “cannot be achieved without a highly-skilled, high-performing industry”.

The Construction 2025 strategy is at the heart of our vision at Constructing Excellence, and we seek to speed up the rate at which engaged players achieve the targets for improvement.

Constructing Excellence in the North East are holding the North East’s Construction Summit on Tuesday 20 September, focussing on the Government’s Construction 2025 Strategy along with the recent review for 2016-2020. During the Summit a Question Time panel with the G4C North East professionals of the industry will be held, discussing skills, collaborative working and their views for the future of the industry.

To book your place at the Construction Summit please contact Lauren Proctor on 0191 5007880 or lauren@cene.org.uk. 

15th September 2016 Newsletter

To view this week’s newsletter with information about our North East Construction Summit and our other forthcoming events please click here.

9th September Journal Column

Jacksons Law FirmBy Simon Catterall, Partner at Jacksons Law Firm

Last year there were 144 fatalities in the work place, corresponding to a ratio of 0.46 deaths per 100,000 and 43 workers were killed in the construction industry. With a further three per cent of the workforce sustaining a work related injury and another three per cent a work related illness, it is no surprise that Health and Safety has come to the forefront of an industry that has evolved to impose an ever increasing responsibility on employers for the welfare of their staff.

Earlier this year the HSE launched its new, five-year strategy called ‘Helping Great Britain Work Well’. The strategy aims to tackle workplace ill health whilst streamlining legislation and guidance, and enabling businesses, especially SMEs, to take the right actions easily and efficiently.

Six strategic themes identified by the HSE are:

  • Acting together: promoting a broader ownership of Health and safety in the UK.
  • Tackling ill health: the costs of ignoring it to be highlighted.
  • Managing risk well: recognising risks and simplifying risk management.
  • Supporting small employers:
  • Keeping pace with change: anticipating and tackling new health and safety challenges as new technologies emerge.
  • Sharing our success: promoting the benefits of Great Britain’s world-class health and safety system.


While the industry safety record has improved massively in the 40 years since the innovative Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) 1974, the duty of the employer to constantly analyse and review practices only increases with a surge of new legislation and directions demanding yet further scrutiny or risk sustaining the massively enhanced penalties that came into effect earlier this year.

Many readers will be aware that fines are now proportional to company turnover, the various brackets meaning that both small and large businesses will feel the same profit draining impact. It’s still early days but some recent industry sentences are truly eye watering.

How, then, are businesses to evolve? The HSE perspective is one of increased cooperation i.e. by encouraging employers and employees to work together in a genuinely positive environment complemented by effective and proportionate regulation and risk management, quotecorner.com/ventolin.html, the health and safety system of any business will become more proactive and therefore stronger. This has to be the correct approach with the key lying in not just being aware of one’s responsibilities, but also keeping the whole business health and safety structure under constant review by absorbing and discussing inevitable changes in working practices in a management environment that includes all parties.

Jacksons Law Firm are hosting a seminar to update the construction sector on Health and Safety legislation. The event will take place at Ramside Hall, Durham on 21 September, with key speakers Simon Catterall and Mark Stouph covering topics including, a general review of the last 12 months, how Brexit could impact the industry and recent developments in court sentencing.

If you would like to register your place at this seminar, please contact Lauren Proctor at lauren@cene.org.uk or call 0191 500 7880.

8th September 2016 Newsletter

To view this week’s newsletter with information of upcoming events and informative articles please click here.

2nd September Journal Column

Web-LogoBy Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

The cyclical nature of our industry makes it difficult for firms to improve their efficiency and productivity. As with anything, trying to make one single, big thing happen proves a challenge.

In everyday life, the world survives this difficulty through millions of people making lots of little gains in different places all the time, so why can’t our industry work the same way?

To increase productivity, it’s been proposed that the whole supply chain should be involved in swarm activity – where a massive number of micro improvements are made at a faster rate than natural progression. The important thing is that everyone joins in, so that everyone benefits from the results, and in less time.

There are many bigger ideas in the industry that still have an important part to play and, often, they act as a catalyst for the team to identify all of the small opportunities not previously thought about. Workshops organised for the whole supply chain where discussions are had about the bigger ideas, including mapping out the processes involved often helps to identify small improvement opportunities that can be made along the way.

John Hall, Regional Director for Constructing Excellence in the East of England suggests five well-established concepts that can help to achieve increased productivity:

  • Supply chain management
  • Collaborative workshops
  • All the industry big ideas
  • Process mapping
  • Marginal gains

The whole supply chain should take part in regular workshops with a number of organisations participating in each. These workshops should explain the concept behind the workshops and obtain commitment to the need to improve. They should discuss a big idea and identify small improvements along the way. The idea is that each small improvement leads to a substantial benefit to everyone, meaning that everyone involved will be willing to do the work. The final part of the workshop should require everyone to sign off on their individual plans, so everybody knows exactly what they’re doing and are happy with their jobs.

Some of the bigger ideas that could benefit from this process, could be anything from BIM implementation and cost efficient low carbon solutions, to offsite manufacturing and new methods and technology – things that are currently very substantial within the industry.

I have every faith that businesses can pull together and boost the industry’s productivity, it might sound like a tough challenge, but to me it sounds like something that could actually work, and let’s face it, over the years we’ve certainly overcome much more.


1st September 2016 Newsletter

To view this week’s newsletter with information of forthcoming events please click here.