18th June Newsletter

Today’s newsletter includes an article from Xsite Architecture, Surgo Construction along with a full list of forthcoming events

June 18th 

12th June Journal Column

APSBy Phillippa Webb, Associate CK21 and NE Chair of Association of Project Safety (APS)

Health and safety is relevant to all businesses, but it is particularly important in the construction industry.

Businesses tend to focus on safety rather than health. There have been big improvements and preventions put in place recently to reduce the number of construction related injuries, although health issues still continue to affect workers.

Those working in the construction industry make up only five per cent of UK workers; however they make up 27 per cent of work related fatality cases and 10 per cent of major injuries in the workplace.

The main health risks relating to construction work range from; cancer to work related stress and asbestos. The Health and Safety Executive estimates that past exposures in the construction sector annually cause over 5,000 occupational cancer cases and 3,700 deaths. The most significant cause of these cancers is asbestos.

Asbestos is the biggest occupational disease risk to construction workers and can cause two types of cancer: mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer, both of which are almost always fatal.

Although it is no longer used, asbestos is not just a problem of the past. It’s difficult to just avoid asbestos as fragments can be found in rubble and soil and aren’t always visible. This, along with other issues such as silca dust requires constant vigilance from the industry.

It’s important to make employers and employees aware of the risks in order to prevent them, which is why I’m a big advocate for UK Health and Safety Week. Taking place from 15-19 June it will celebrate the achievements of UK practitioners and this year will be focusing on protecting workers’ health. APS is also integrally involved in the Construction Health Leadership Group which is looking to wake the industry up to the huge issues of health.

The Health and Safety Executive suggest you assess, control and then review the plans put in place to control construction health risks. It suggests the following tips to keep you safe:

  • Plan– your overall strategy
  • Identify – the health hazards linked to your work
  • Assess– the significance of these hazards
  • Involve– workers in managing health risks

Once all controls are in place it is essential to monitor that they are all working, continuously supervising workers and monitoring and maintaining controls. These are all simple and easy ways to reduce the risk of health problems for workers.

Managing health and safety is literally a matter of life or death, it’s vital, especially in our industry and businesses would be careless not to take the necessary steps to prevent health risks.

11th June Newsletter

To view this week’s newsletter please click on the link 

Catriona discusses the Queens Speech in this week’s Journal Column

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

Last week saw the Queen announce her first Conservative Speech in almost two decades. The speech set out David Cameron’s plans for the years ahead and gave us insight into which direction he wants to take the country. From the bills and laws mentioned, there were a few which will directly affect the construction industry.

The Housing Bill includes plans to extend the Right to Buy scheme, giving one million people the chance to buy their properties. A huge step as up to now only council tenants have had the right to buy the homes they had previously rented.

The scheme sounds good theoretically, but it will be interesting to see how it plays out. The reality is that authorities will have to sell off existing stock before they can even begin to fund and deliver the promise of affordable properties.

Plans were also announced to create 200,000 new starter homes, which will be offered to first-time buyers under 40 at 20 per cent below the open market value. It’s all good and well promising to provide these starter homes, but we must ensure we can meet the huge demand for housing it will create.

The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) has suggested that 200,000 houses will be needed every year to meet the rising demand. If we fail to meet such demand then these schemes will have very limited impact on the housing market

Also included in the speech was the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill which will see power handed over to cities with newly elected metro mayors to help build the Northern Powerhouse. The new bill is positive news for our industry as it will allow cities to take responsibility for issues like transport, housing, skills, health and social care.

These plans have huge potential although devolution could be disastrous if it leads to a number of disconnected approaches. The devolved authorities must never lose sight of the bigger picture, and ensure that their plans fit in seamlessly to Britain’s national infrastructure.

The bills all provide potential for the construction industry and with David Cameron insisting that the North East won’t be left behind during the Conservative government; I’m feeling optimistic for construction in the North East in the years ahead.

Cameron promised us big things, from dualling the A1 to improving the A19 and investing in High Speed Rail. These are all things needed in the North East to ensure it continues to grow and creates jobs. Let’s hope we get everything we’ve been promised…

4th June Newsletter

Please click on the link to view this week’s newsletter which includes a full list of forthcoming events – June 4th 

29th May Journal Column

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

Late payment is such a big issue in our industry, and one I feel is never ending. Finance is a huge problem for our industry and a one I don’t think we’ve taken seriously enough in the past.

But, the government are at it again with new plans to tackle the ever growing problem. Their new plans are said to include a future consultation on allowing bodies such as the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) to act on behalf of their members to challenge unfair payment terms.

Also mentioned is the creation of the new Small Business Conciliation Service (SBCS) which will be put in place to help resolve disputes between small businesses and their clients. The SBCS is based on an Australian system which, as far as I can tell, has been a success in getting small businesses the money they are owed.  The measure will form a part of a new Enterprise Bill, which was included in the Queen’s Speech earlier this week.

I still can’t believe the government has to go to such an extent to put several plans in place to ensure that people are given the money they are rightly owed, but this finally sounds like something that could actually work.

However, the success of the SBCS is likely to be dependent on SMEs referring late payment issues and disputes in the first place. This has been the case for the current plans put in place; SMEs are unwilling to refer their issues and disputes in fear of jeopardising their business relationships.

From April 2016, large businesses are going to be required to publish information about their payment practices twice a year before they can join or remain on supplier lists. It is expected that they will have to report on their standard payment terms, average time taken to pay, the proportion of invoices paid in 30 days or less, 60 days or less and beyond 60 days.

Along with these new plans, there will also be measures put in place to reinforce the plans already in place.

As of 2018, through a deal struck with the Construction Leadership Council, a voluntary charter has been created which will encourage clients and contractors alike to sign up to follow 11 fair payment commitments, including standard 30-day payment terms. When the charter was announced people questioned its impact due to the low number of signatories at first launch, with many commenting that without further supportive legislation there wouldn’t be a significant change.

Well, now the much needed supportive legislation is finally here, with plenty of plans in place to reinforce the need of paying on time, so we should finally see that change we so desperately need. There should never be a choice for fair payment to be an optional agreement, people deserve to be paid, and on time!

28th May Newsletter

To view this week’s newsletter please click on the link 28th May

22nd May Journal Column

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

According to latest research from the National Specialist Contractors Council, the number of specialist contractors struggling to recruit skilled labour is at its highest level in 14 years. And, as a result of this yawned skilled gap, around a quarter of firms say they have had to turn down work- a figure higher now than at any time during the recession.

And the increasing skills gap also means that prices are on the up, with 54 per cent of respondents experiencing an increase in tender prices last quarter, double the level of this time last year. This might be good for us, but isn’t something our clients are going to like after too long I’m sure…

But it seems that whilst a skills gap isn’t great for our industry as a whole, it does offer some individuals a golden ticket.  We all know that our industry is hiring because work levels are on the up, which means that for those already working in construction, an array of opportunities are on offer.

People who would have normally been looking to move up the career ladder when the recession hit are realising that, after a long time, the wind is now in their favour and it’s time to make a move. And the current state of play in the construction jobs market means that individuals can reposition themselves to build a career in any company they want (to a certain degree). A survey by The Institute of Leadership and Management reports that 37% of workers plan to leave their job during 2015, a sign of the times and a significant increase from the 19% who planned to move in 2014, and the 13% in 2013.

It’s safe to say that construction is now a job-seekers playground with simple supply and demand pushing up salaries and the type of offers being thrown about. But despite the high level of ambition being seen across our industry at the minute, it’s vital that individuals remember that despite needing staff, employers won’t be looking to take on somebody who isn’t right, just to fill a gap. At an event I attended last week, I spoke to somebody who had interviewed three people for a site manager role a few weeks prior but didn’t employ anyone because they just weren’t the right fit. This is where the dark art of poaching begins to creep in.

If employers can’t find the right person from an initial advert, then the next step is to begin luring those experienced employees from rival firms and this is something I’m sure we will see and hear more of in the next few months…

21st May Newsletter

This week features a full list of forthcoming events, click on the link to view 21st May

Winners of the 2015 CENE Awards announced!

3O0A4305The best of the North East construction industry was recognised at the 2015 Constructing Excellence in the North East (CENE) Awards last week.

The awards celebrated all that is exceptional in the region’s construction industry and recognise those high-flying individuals and organisations leading the way in North East construction. Attended by almost 600 construction professionals, the awards recognised individuals and organisations across 13 awards categories this year.

Catriona Lingwood, chief executive of CENE, said: “Every year I am impressed with the quality of work individuals and organisations produce in our region. This year was no exception, if anything, the general standard was even higher.

“These awards showcase only the very best and they continue to set the benchmark for the rest of the industry. All those recognised on the night should be exceptionally proud of their achievements.”

Each category winner will join the other regional winners at the national final in London in October, giving them an opportunity to receive further recognition on a truly national level.

The 2015 winners were:

Heritage – sponsored by Thirteen Group
Winner- Dunston Staiths Restoration
Commended- Dukesfield Smelters and Carriers Project

Young Achiever of the Year – sponsored by Northern Counties Builders Federation
Winner- Jenna Graham

BIM Project of the Year -sponsored by CIOB North East
Winner- Pride Hospitals – Hopewood Park

Innovation– sponsored by Northumbrian Water Group
Winner- Pride Hospitals – Hopewood Park

Leadership & People Development – sponsored by Esh Construction
Winner- Willmott Dixon Construction

Health & Safety – sponsored by Association for Project Safety
Winner- Horsley WTW – Treated Water Reservoir

SME – sponsored by Gentoo Group
Winner- Hodgson Sayers Ltd

Integration & Collaborative Working– sponsored by Watson Burton LLP
Winner- Northumbrian Water Group – Accelerated Flooding Programme
Highly Commended-  National Biologics Manufacturing Centre (NBMC) Project

Winner- North Tyneside Living
Highly Commended- Procure 21 Partnership – Laing O’Rourke and NTW NHS Foundation Trust

The Legacy – Sustainability- sponsored by DAC Beachcroft LLP
Winner- The Core, Science Central
Highly Commended – Conversion of St Francis of Assisi Church

Client of the Year – sponsored by Ward Hadaway
Winner – Stockton Borough Council

Achiever of the Year– sponsored by Bond Dickinson LLP
Winner – Geoff Hunton

Outstanding Contribution– sponsored by Bond Dickinson LLP
Winner- John Waugh

Project of the Year– sponsored by Corepeople Recruitment
Winner of Infrastructure Project of the Year and Project of the Year- Littlehaven Promenade and Seawall

Building Project of the Year
Winner – Redcar Leisure & Community Heart
Highly Commended Project of the Year- Pride Hospitals – Hopewood Park

If you would like to view any of the images from the evening, please search ‘Constructing Excellence in the North East’ facebook page.