An article in the Guardian indicates that the 6500 figure is likely to be an underestimate, as preparations for 2022 world cup tournament continue.

More than 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have died in Qatar since it won the right to host the World Cup 10 years ago, the Guardian can reveal.

The findings, compiled from government sources, mean an average of 12 migrant workers from these five south Asian nations have died each week since the night in December 2010 when the streets of Doha were filled with ecstatic crowds celebrating Qatar’s victory.

Data from India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka revealed there were 5,927 deaths of migrant workers in the period 2011–2020. Separately, data from Pakistan’s embassy in Qatar reported a further 824 deaths of Pakistani workers, between 2010 and 2020.

The total death toll is significantly higher, as these figures do not include deaths from a number of countries which send large numbers of workers to Qatar, including the Philippines and Kenya. Deaths that occurred in the final months of 2020 are also not included.

In the past 10 years, Qatar has embarked on an unprecedented building programme, largely in preparation for the football tournament in 2022. In addition to seven new stadiums, dozens of major projects have been completed or are under way, including a new airport, roads, public transport systems, hotels and a new city, which will host the World Cup final.

While death records are not categorised by occupation or place of work, it is likely many workers who have died were employed on these World Cup infrastructure projects, says Nick McGeehan, a director at FairSquare Projects, an advocacy group specialising in labour rights in the Gulf. “A very significant proportion of the migrant workers who have died since 2011 were only in the country because Qatar won the right to host the World Cup,” he said.

As reported in the Guardian.

Property partnership Alex Brewster and Sons has been fined £4,000 after an employee fell through a roof light.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard how on 19 April 2016, two employees were removing roofing panels from a derelict shed in Midlothian. One of the workers stepped on to a roof light, which gave way causing him to fall to the floor below. He sustained serious injuries as a result of the fall including fractures to his pelvis, ribs, and elbow, which required surgery.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Alex Brewster and Sons, who own and let domestic properties, failed to ensure that work at height was properly planned, appropriately supervised and carried out in a manner which was, as far as reasonably practicable, safe. There were insufficient measures in place to prevent the risk of a fall from height.

Alex Brewster and Sons, of Bonnington Store, Wilkieston, Kirknewton pleaded guilty to breaching the Work at Height Regulations 2005, Regulation 4 and Section 33(1)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. They were fined £4,000.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Gillian Anderson said: “Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work-related fatalities in this country and the risks associated with working at height are well known.

“If a suitable safe system of work had been in place prior to the incident, the severe injuries sustained by this employee could have been prevented.”

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has announced the appointment of a Chief Inspector of Buildings to establish and lead the new Building Safety Regulator (BSR).

Peter Baker, HSE’s current Director of Building Safety and Construction, will take up the post with immediate effect.

The government asked HSE to establish a new building safety regulator in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster and following recommendations in the ‘Building a Safer Future’ report by Dame Judith Hackitt.

In his role as the Chief Inspector of Buildings, Peter Baker will head up the Building Safety Regulator to deliver the new regime for high risk buildings, oversee work to increase competence of all professionals working on buildings and ensure effective oversight of the entire building safety environment.  Peter will also be the first head of the building control profession, and lead the work to provide independent, expert advice to industry, government, landlords and residents on building safety.

Peter said: “I am honoured to be appointed as the first Chief Inspector of Buildings and for the opportunity to play a lead role in bringing about the biggest change in building safety for a generation. I look forward to working with government, industry, partner regulators and residents to shape and deliver a world-class risk-based regulatory system for the safety and standards of buildings that residents can have confidence in and that we can all be proud of.”

Peter has over 30 years’ experience with HSE as an Inspector and in a number of senior operational posts dealing with a wide range of industry sectors, including the role of HSE’s Chief Inspector of Construction. Since 2017 Peter has led HSE’s involvement in the Government’s Building Safety Programme.

Sarah Newton, HSE’s Chair said: “I would like to congratulate Peter on his appointment as the new Chief Inspector of Buildings. Peter has a long track record of working in partnership with industry and other regulators to bring about behavioural and culture change that improves people’s safety.  His deep understanding of assessing and managing hazards and risk makes him ideally suited to shape and lead the implementation of the new building safety regime” 

Dame Judith Hackitt, Independent adviser to Government on Building Safety and Chair of the Transition Board said: “I am delighted to hear of Peter Baker’s appointment as the new Chief inspector of Buildings. With his impressive background experience in regulating both Major hazards Industries and Construction he brings a wealth of experience to this important new role. I very much look forward to working with Peter as the new Building Safety Regulator is established as we move to establish a new regime where people can be confident that their homes are safe and fit for purpose”

Minister for Building Safety, Lord Greenhalgh said:  “I  welcome the appointment of Peter Baker as the first national Chief  Inspector of Buildings. Peter will use his and HSE’s wealth of experience to implement a tougher regulatory regime.  I look forward to working with Peter and his team to ramp up engagement with residents and the sector as part of the biggest changes to building safety in a generation, backed by our £5 billion investment to fully fund the cost of replacing unsafe cladding for all leaseholders in residential buildings 18 metres (6 storeys) and over in England. We have a comprehensive plan to remove unsafe cladding, support leaseholders, restore confidence to this part of the housing market and ensure this situation never arises again.”

While there are challenges ahead for the sector, which is set to grow by a quarter of million workers in the next four years, the construction industry will provide more opportunities for British workers, as the number of migrant workers falls, CITB’s annual Migration Survey showed.

Among the findings, 41% of employers will look to increase the skills of British workers, almost a third (30%) will provide more permanent jobs for Brits, a quarter (24%) will increase minimum salaries, and 16% will look to take on more local apprentices.

While employers reported a fall in the number of migrant employees, there was a rise in the number of self-employed migrants working for the industry.

While only 16% of companies expect that issues with migrant workers not remaining in the UK will impact their firm, almost three-quarters (72%) expect it to impact on the sector, with a quarter (27%) anticipating a serious impact.

Supporting the sector

CITB will support the sector in meeting the challenges of Covid-19 and Brexit with investments over the next five years including 28,000 taster experiences of construction, 19,000 on-site experiences to help prepare students, working with Government on a new construction traineeship to get more FE learners into jobs and apprenticeships and increasing the number of apprentices completing their training.

While the report showed that most employers reported no change in their number of migrant workers over the last year, 13% reported a fall in employing them, and only 2% a rise.

The largest fall (41%) was among those employing non-UK workers indirectly (ie. self-employed). Just over a tenth of the construction workforce are migrants, with the proportion falling from 10.7% in 2018 to 10.2% – a drop of about 5% in two years – with most coming from the EU.

The number of employers dependent on migrant workers has fallen slightly (from 15% in 2019 to 13%). While those directly employing migrants (ie. as staff) fell by 11%, the number of firms indirectly employing migrants rose by the same number.

One concerning trend was the lack of understanding among companies of how post-Brexit settlement empowers them to retain staff, with less than one in ten (9%) saying they understood it well.

The chief reasons for this included a primary focus on Covid-19, the belief that their firm will not suffer due to a low number of migrant workers, and waiting for further clarity on Brexit and preparing to act afterwards.

A ‘critical time’

Steve Radley, director of strategy and policy at CITB, said: “Construction faces a number of challenges over the next few years, among them declining numbers of migrant workers, as Covid has seen more workers leave the country and with a new tighter migration system.

“Employers expect to provide more jobs for British workers but for some occupations and employers, this is already proving challenging with order books growing, particularly in housing and infrastructure.

“The government has made some important commitments such as reforming FE, introducing construction traineeships and increasing access to unused apprenticeship levy funding.

“It’s vital that we work together to ensure these deliver the skills construction needs. It’s also critical that employers understand the new points-based system and have confidence it will respond quickly where there are pressures on key skills.”

As reported on PCBToday

The UK’s Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick, has promised an extra £3.5bn from the Government to help remove the unsafe cladding from high-rise buildings over 18m – an issue that is estimated to be affecting 700,000 people.

The move comes as calls from residents, leaseholders, campaigners and other stakeholders have grown increasingly prominent in recent months. Hundreds of thousands of residents have felt unsafe and trapped in their flats since findings from the Grenfell Inquiry highlighted that unsafe cladding was the ‘primary cause of the fire spread’ of the Grenfell Tower disaster in 2017 in which 72 people died.

While Mr Jenrick noted that 95% of the buildings first identified with unsafe ACM cladding – the type used on the Grenfell facade – have been remediated or are currently being worked on, it has been widely recognised that there are thousands of other buildings with similarly unsafe cladding still in existence, with significant costs being directed to leaseholders and residents.

The £3.5bn is an addition to the original pot of £1.6bn released for the Building Safety Fund, announced last year by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Mr Jenrick told the Commons that leaseholders in these high-rise buildings over 18m (or with six storeys or more), would face no extra cost to themselves for the cladding remediation works in England, and that this investment was an “unprecedented intervention” by government to “remove unsafe cladding and provide certainty to leaseholders… and to reject confidence and certainty back into this part of the housing market”.

The funding will focus on the “higher rise buildings” above 18 metres, which Mr Jenrick explained was based on the advice from the independent expert advisory panel that these are where the “overwhelming majority” of the risks lie. For lower and medium-rise blocks, the Government is promising a long-term scheme to protect leaseholders facing costs with financial support for cladding remediation on blocks between four and six storeys. In the low-interest scheme, leaseholders will be required to pay “no more than £50 a month”, and that this scheme will be available for “many years to come”.

Mr Jenrick also noted that he believes the extra investment will help to reduce insurance premiums, which have rocketed in some cases due to the assessment of risk on cladding and buildings that have been deemed unsafe, and that building owners and developers should step up to meet the costs of the work. A new levy will therefore be put in place on future development of certain high-rise buildings in England, as well as a new tax for the UK residential property sector that is set to be introduced in 2022 to help raise the money for the removal of cladding and reduce pressure on taxpayers.

“Proposals don’t go far enough”

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s World at One, Conservative MP Stephen McPartland commented that the announcement did not go far enough: “The support he has offered does not help most people because people who’ve got excessive insurance premiums, fire safety defects – that’s where the real costs are”.

In a similar vein, many responses to the news highlighted that the announcement left many questions unanswered, such as the immediate issue of the extraordinary rise in insurance premiums, homes remaining unsellable, the fact that leaseholders in flats under 18m are not being supported enough and would still have to pay, why the construction industry and cladding manufacturers aren’t being required to pay more, and that the government funding has not been easy to access.

On Twitter, the End Our Cladding Scandal released a statement, saying they felt “betrayed” by the announcement, with loans that could potentially be “longer than mortgage terms for millions” a result of the low-interest scheme for blocks under 18m.

Jonathan O’Neill OBE, Managing Director of the Fire Protection Association (FPA), also believes that the measures should apply to all affected buildings – regardless of their height: “It has now been more than three and a half years since the issue of combustible cladding surfaced as an issue for leaseholders. Whether the problems arose due to ambiguous and confusing legislation, a broken regulatory system, ignorance or incompetence in the construction sector, or suppliers of building products gaming the system; what is abundantly clear is that it was of no fault of the leaseholders who continue to face uncertainty despite today’s announcement.

“The Government must act now and support all leaseholders, in all affected buildings regardless of their height, with grants to bring this debacle to a close. It should then be on the Government to pursue those responsible through the courts to ensure the money is fully repaid. This has been going on for too long, it is completely unacceptable that we continue to have people living in buildings which are fundamentally unsafe and leaseholders facing financial ruin for believing that we had a regulatory system that was fit for purpose and robust. The FPA has made repeated requests for the Government to ban the use of combustible materials on all high-risk buildings; this situation is clearly of its own making and they must act now to bring this debacle to a close.”

As reported on:  IFSEC GLOBAL

A roofer was fatally injured when he fell six metres whilst working on a replacement roof at a property in Kirkdale, Liverpool.

Liverpool Crown Court heard how on 22 May 2017, the roofer was completing snagging work on a replacement roof. The worker had accessed a part of the old roof made of fragile asbestos cement sheets, which gave way. He fell through the sheets to the ground below sustaining fatal injuries.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the area accessed did not have safety nets fitted and the building occupier failed to take reasonably practicable measures to reduce the risk to those working on the roof.

Owners of the building Pearsons Glass, of Maddrell Street, Liverpool, pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, sections 3. The company was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,656.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Andrew McGrory said: “The risks from working on fragile surfaces are well known.

“Businesses have a responsibility to ensure that the contractor they select to undertake any construction work devise safe methods of doing so, which should include providing the necessary information to their workers and ensuring that they are adequately supervised.”

The prosecution of the roofing contractor is ongoing.

As reported by the HSE Media Centre.

In many respects this should serve as yet another ‘wake up’ call to business that they simply cannot delegate their responsibilities and hide behind contractors in the belief that they have paid them to do a job and it is of no concern to them how the end result is achieved.

It is tragic that such incidents are still occurring with regularity and as recognised by the Court, businesses and organisations must not only understand but also fulfil their obligations with regard to health and safety legislation.

The provision of appropriate training is key in this area both in understanding your obligations and in the development/implementation of the necessary systems that need to be put in place to provide for them.

The IOSH Managing Safely course is an excellent first step in understanding business/organisational responsibility with regard to health and safety, for managers at all levels.  We would recommend that businesses of all sizes consider it as a stepping stone in providing for their responsibilities and the development of their staff.

Goldcross are specialist providers of the IOSH Managing Safely course and our course schedule can be viewed here.

 

Two companies have been fined after a worker sustained serious injuries by falling approximately three metres through a hole cut into a floor during the refurbishment of a property at in Aldeburgh, Suffolk.

Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court heard how on 27 July 2017, an employee was working as a dry liner for R&B Plastering Limited, who were contracted on the site to Robert Norman Construction Limited, the Principal Contractor (PC).

The employee was working on the second floor of the property, near to a hole that had been cut into the floor to facilitate plaster board being passed up from the level below. The employee fell approximately three metres through the hole, causing him to sustain fractures to his vertebrae and ribs, and severe bruising.

He required hospitalisation for nineteen days and had to wear a back brace for six months. He also suffers ongoing physical and psychological issues as a result of the incident.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the hole was not adequately protected via covering or access. R&B Plastering Limited had put a risk assessment in place for the work, but it was not adequate, and was not provided to the PC prior to work commencing.

The PC’s own policy outlined the need to review any sub-contractors’ risk assessments prior to them starting work; and by failing to follow this policy the PC missed any opportunity to review R&B Plastering’s risk assessment.

Robert Norman Construction Limited of Framlingham, Suffolk were found guilty in their absence to breaching Section 2(1) and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and have been fined £140,000 and ordered to pay costs of £8,426.

R&B Plastering Limited of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and have been fined £26,700 and ordered to pay costs of £8,426.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Prentiss Clarke-Jones said: “The employee’s injuries are life-changing and he could have easily been killed. The incident could have been avoided if both companies had fully implemented safe systems of work and identified, during the planning stages, that materials would need to be safely transported between floors.

“Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work-related injuries in this country, and the controls needed to prevent the associated risks are well known. Dutyholders should follow the guidance on planning works to ensure that risks such as this work at height can be eliminated in the first instance by allowing safe means of access.”

As reported on the HSE Media Centre.

The importance of undertaking appropriate risk assessments and having the appropriate knowledge of the Working at Height Regulations can not be understated and should be fully understood by both employers and employees.  Here at Goldcross Training we provide a full range of training that covers risk assessment requirements and working at height including: CITB Site Safety Plus, IOSH and NEBOSH courses, so why not take a look at what we have to offer.

Japanese contractor Obayashi has started to build a dam almost entirely with robots, addressing the industry’s labor shortage and aging workforce.

The site of the trial project is a concrete dam in Mie Prefecture, on the southeast coast of Japan’s main island. The 84-meter-high structure is slated for completion in March 2023.

Obayashi has developed automated equipment to stack concrete layers to form a dam. To further streamline the process, a plant has been built near the site to mix sand and gravel with cement to make concrete.

Building a dam requires knowledge and skill developed through years of experience. Obayashi’s automated system is expected to be a game-changer in dam construction, as well as in other applications.

“By transferring expert techniques to machines, we’re able to analyze what was once implicit knowledge,” said Akira Naito, head of Obayashi’s dam technology unit.

Every process for constructing the 334-meter-wide dam will involve some form of automation. That includes the initial work of establishing the foundation, and pouring concrete to form the body.

The dam’s body is built in layers by pouring concrete into 15-meter square partitions. Tower cranes that pour the concrete are controlled remotely by office computers, which also monitor the positioning of the partitions and the progress of construction.

Humans will man the cranes for safety reasons, but the machines are self-operating.

Building a dam is an intricate endeavor that requires all crevices to be sealed to prevent breaches. Concrete surfaces need to be processed so they are tightly stacked on one another.

Layers that are uneven are usually brushed down by human professionals until they are flat. Obayashi has developed machines that handle the brushing. The frequency of the cyclical brushing and the pressure on the surface are automatically controlled.

As poured concrete builds up, the forms used to give it structure need to be raised to keep unset concrete from leaking out. Normally, multiple skilled workers in heavy machinery operate in tandem to gradually lift the forms, calling out to each other to coordinate their movements.

Obayashi has developed a robot to handle this task, allowing for humans to be cut out of the picture entirely.

Surprisingly, Obayashi says all of its futuristic solutions have only increased productivity by about 10%, since it still needs to have people on-site ready to jump in should things go wrong. The company plans to acquire more know-how so it can eventually reduce the amount of manpower it needs.

“Eventually, we may be able to cut building time by 30%,” said Naito.

Other Japanese contractors are also working on automation. Kajima has developed self-driving bulldozers and dump trucks so construction can continue 24 hours a day. It has automated the lifting of concrete forms, which it used at a dam construction site in Hokkaido for the first time.

Dam construction is especially conducive to automation, since it involves a lot of repetition and tends to happen on sprawling sites far from population centers, meaning there is less risk of automated equipment hitting bystanders or other machinery.

Japan’s construction workforce is aging quickly, with 35% of all workers now 55 or older, according to the Japan Federation of Construction Contractors. Companies are scrambling to build robots based on workers’ expertise before they retire. The companies also hope that new technology could dispel negative stereotypes of the industry among younger generations, encouraging more people to work in construction.

Stricter regulations on overtime, which take effect on construction sites starting in 2024, have contributed to the trend toward automation. Contractors are struggling to meet their goal of guaranteeing two days off a week on their sites. They will need to incorporate automation technology used in dams in other types of construction as well.

Kajima has partnered with rival Takenaka on automation. Robots are becoming not just a way to boost productivity on construction sites, but also a major factor in the competitiveness of Japan’s contractors.

As previously reported by Nikkei Asian Review.

 

Balfour Beatty has closed its regional construction business in the south of England which has now been merged with the northern and midlands unit.

The closure has led to the departure of Beth West who joined Balfour Beatty only 12 months ago (February 2020) in anticipation of a surge in growth througout the southern region, the pandemic has however put a stop to that and left her with no clear role moving forward for the immediate future.

The arrival of Beth West at Balfour was big news and having previously been the head of development for property developer Landsec’s London portfolio and a commercial director of HS2 she was expected lead and grow Balfours expected £250m-turnover Construction South regional business.

Announcing her departure on LinkedIn, Beth West announced:

“A year ago, I joined Balfour Beatty to lead the South business as it was on the cusp of a really exciting phase, with Heathrow expansion on the cards and other exciting opportunities in front of us. But unfortunately, Covid has changed the business materially and at the moment, it is unviable as a stand-alone business unit. Therefore, I will be leaving Balfour Beatty as of today to consider pastures new and The Next Big Thing.”

A Balfour Beatty spokesperson said: “Due to market conditions in the south of England, we are consolidating our Construction Services Regional South business unit into the North and Midlands business unit to form a single business unit.

“We remain committed to working with our customers to continue to successfully deliver our active schemes in the south of England and will continue to selectively bid projects where our expertise delivers value for our clients coupled with an appropriate risk return ratio to ensure successful outcomes for all.”

The departure follows last months announcement by Balfour Beatty that:  Mark Bullock, previously chief executive for Rail & Utilities, had taken over as chief executive of UK Construction Services, replacing Dean Banks, who is taking on a new role in Australia.

 

A company has been fined after a worker was fatally injured by steelwork, which fell from a telehandler forklift truck during loading.

Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court heard how on 4 April 2019, an employee of South East Galvanizers Limited had visited PCR Steel Ltd at their premises in Star Industrial Estate, Essex to collect a load. He was performing an unplanned lifting operation, loading a metal balcony base frame onto a flatbed trailer, when the incident occurred. The load was not secured and the balcony frame weighing approximately 400kg fell and crushed the 47-year-old man, who had been standing on the back of the trailer bed.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company failed to ensure that the lifting operation was properly planned by a competent person, appropriately supervised, and carried out in a safe manner. There was no lift plan for the manoeuvring of balcony frames that could have considered the load’s security, size and weight. There was no plan for how the load would be set down, nor for how to exclude people from the danger zone.

PCR Steel Ltd of Star Industrial Estate, St Johns Road Grays, Essex pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 8(1) of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay costs of £9,900.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Jill Mead said: “This was a tragic and wholly avoidable incident, caused by the failure of the host company to implement safe systems of work. Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working and to provide the necessary information, instruction and training to their workers in the safe system of working.”

Source:  HSE Media centre