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SSSTS

Featuring Conder Allslade: Interview with Mike Hunter, Managing Director

Conder Allslade – Building Quality with Steel (The Following is a Promoted Article) Steel continues to be the choice material in the construction industry, favoured for its sustainability, durability, versatility and affordability. Operating by those very same tokens, Conder Allslade has secured a resolute identity in the structural steel sector,

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Featuring DCM Surfaces: Interview with Beverley Holden, Director

“So often, an approach to health and safety is characterised by compliance and audits can be seen as a major headache for contractors,” says Beverley Holden, Director of DCM Surfaces. “I’m of the opinion that I’d rather know if something is unsafe than not and auditing is very much a

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Latest Issue

BDC 319 : Aug 2024

SSSTS

Featuring G A Smith: Interview with Claire Trusty, Health and Safety Officer

G A Smith – Reputable in Construction (The Following is a Promoted Article) Undoubtedly, one of the greatest – if not the greatest – challenges faced by plant hire firms is managing health and safety. Owing to its power and size, plant equipment is intrinsically dangerous and thus proper risk management is a fundamental part of haulage business’ operations. Beginning with just one wagon in 1987, G A Smith has since grown into specialist plant hire firm of multiple vehicles and multiple areas of expertise. Operating out of three depots in Birtley, Cramlington and Felton, and with four core areas of business – plant hire, bulk haulage, bulk handling and earthworks – the firm functions as a one-stop-shop in loading, conveyance and handling. Through diversification, the firm has established a leading reputation with its construction industry clients and is favoured for its technically-competent and professional services. Although the weight G A Smith places on health and safety is then perhaps unsurprising, the firm’s success in managing risk is somewhat remarkable. Training has been key for the firm; by providing operatives with the most up-to-date advice, knowledge and skills, risk of injury by human error or misdemeanour can be mitigated. With several SMSTS-trained site managers, a number of SSSTS-trained site supervisors and all operatives having undergone CPCS training or an equivalent, G A Smith leaves nothing down to chance and has built up a level of competence that, for the most part, prevents accidents from happening altogether. More than simply providing opportunities for training however, G A Smith has taken the decision to carry out some specialist training in-house rather than sourcing courses from an external supplier. Claire Trusty, Health and Safety Officer at G A Smith, says the benefits of internal training are manifold: “Taking a hands-on approach to training has enabled us to provide operatives with exactly the qualifications and skills they needs for each specific job. What’s more, we’re also able manage operatives’ practice more attentively and make sure not only that they have the right knowledge and the right skills to perform but, equally, that they’re effecting what they’ve learned in training on a day-to-day basis.” Conducting training in-house is also well-suited to the often unpredictable schedules and working hours of G A Smith’s operatives, and thus prevents the company from having to take time away from either site works or the customer. Training provided includes: manual handling, basic working at height and fire awareness. In addition, all operatives have recently benefited from a Self-Study Environmental Awareness with a view to easing G A Smith’s transition to a ISO 14001-accredited firm. Indeed, following recent audits, the company is now accredited with ISO 14001, ISO 18001 and ISO 9001, the successful achievement of which, Trusty highlights, will prove invaluable during tendering in the future and, more generally, reinstates G A Smith’s commitment to quality and corporate responsibility. ISO accreditation is just another seal of approval for the company which also possesses a number of highly-regarded industry accolades, including SafeContractor, Constructionline and CHAS accreditation. In respect of just what CHAS membership provides the business, Trusty echoes her sentiment on ISO accreditation as well as stressing that the principles of CHAS are, in many ways, commonsense. “When we first started to invest in health and safety, changing the business in line with the requirements CHAS, it was actually much more simple and much more intuitive than it first seemed. Ultimately, CHAS mandates that businesses recognise their responsibility to provide a safe working environment for operatives and mitigate risk to the public. When you look at it like that, there’s very little to dispute.” In terms of how those ambitions are actualised on site, G A Smith issues all operatives with an up-to-date health and safety policy and PPE during induction, reviewing potential risks and hazards on a site-by-site basis and making amends as necessary. Risk assessments, method statements and COSHH assessments are all completed internally and, likewise, reviewed regularly so as to identify any changes or emerging matters of address. With profound emphasis on health and safety, G A Smith continues to excel in the bulk haulage and handling industry, proving that the – whilst the industry may be characterised by risk – it need not be defined by accident or injury. And with express commitment to maintaining such high standards evident in the company’s recent successful audit for ISO accreditation, G A Smith can only grow in prominence.

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Featuring Conder Allslade: Interview with Mike Hunter, Managing Director

Conder Allslade – Building Quality with Steel (The Following is a Promoted Article) Steel continues to be the choice material in the construction industry, favoured for its sustainability, durability, versatility and affordability. Operating by those very same tokens, Conder Allslade has secured a resolute identity in the structural steel sector, and is continually favoured by clients for its high quality, comprising service. Following its establishment in 2008, Conder Allslade has solidified its reputation in the steel construction industry, fast-becoming a leader in the provision of high quality structural steel and now equipped to carry out both design-and-build and consultant-designed projects. With its network of regular partners and sub-contractors, the company realises itself much like a one-stop-shop in structural steelwork and continues to add further capabilities under its structural steel header. It’s with such a comprehensive service that the company finds itself working within multiple sectors, including: warehouse and industrial distribution, manufacturing, commercial, offices, town centres, car parks, cinemas, retail facilities, leisure centres, education and health. Inundated with a variety of projects though Conder Allslade may be, its focus on quality has yet to wane and the company prides itself on its ability to work exactly to individual clients’ needs. “We like to think we work with our clients rather than simply for them,” Mike Hunter, Managing Director of Conder Allslade insists. “We work across a variety of projects and, within that, undertake new builds, extensions and refurbishments. Whether we’re approached at a design, manufacture or erection stage, we strive offer superior, integrated customer service and support at all times so as to offer something which is tailored exactly to a customer’s brief.” Whilst each of the projects on which the company works necessitate a different approach and bear distinct challenges, Conder Allslade’s distinct hallmark of quality is consistent throughout. Having invested in a state-of-the-art processing facility, the company is now able to carry out shot-blasting, sawing, drilling and robotic profiling – each to CE Mark EX3. Now with over 15,000 square metres of production facilities, the company is well-equipped offer its customers maximum quality and flexibility in the manufacture of high quality structural steelwork and complex components. Cutting edge technology aside, the quality and accuracy of its steel is largely attributable to Conder Allslade’s highly-qualified manufacturing team who, followed up by dedicated inspections, enact various quality control measures before, during and after production. In view of the crucial role its staff play when securing contracts and carving out a unique identity in the sector, Conder Allslade has devoted real time and attention to its operatives, sourcing the best in the sector as well as providing opportunities for training and development so as to safeguard the quality of work carried out. “We tend to employ full tradespeople,” details Hunter, “And find that they come with a certain assurance in quality because of the breadth of experience they have in complex manufacture and precision engineering, rather than being purely single discipline specialists. We make sure everyone has that adaptability; our operatives are trained to both plate and weld so they do the whole job on the bar, they put the whole assembly together.” Emphasis on existing staff aside, there is the added pressure of securing a future workforce for which training and development simply will not do. It’s been widely reported that there is declining interest amongst younger generations in manufacturing and engineering industry and fewer and fewer people are going on to pursue a career in the sector. It’s resulted in a lack of specialist tradespeople and concern for the national face of the industry. With expressed determination to secure the future of the sector and its own esteem within that, the company has acknowledged those skills shortages threatening the sector and actively sought to address the deficits in technical expertise by engaging with local apprenticeship schemes. Hunter details further: “We engage with local colleges and have supported two apprentices through to NVQ Level 3 in the last five years. More than just a box-ticking exercise, apprentices are trained in other areas of the business; in particular, aspects related to shop-floor operation. With the additional opportunity to work with our Maintenance Engineer, they become multi-skilled engineers capable of getting the best out of the kit, and doing so in the safest possible way.” The two apprentices have since qualified as platers, and are employed full-time by the company. At each level of employment, staff benefit from the ability to train and work in multiple areas and thus gain insight and experience within a number of discrete but inter-related disciplines. Indeed, the company’s versatility can be attributed to the cross-pollination of practices and processes that occurs during its keen training and development schemes. A recent project for the Farnborough International Airshow (FIA) made use of Conder Allslade’s flexible and all-encompassing structural steel service. It saw the company provide the entire superstructure, from the steelwork to the floor, and from the cladding to each window and door. Whilst the company has gone on to establish itself in a number of different aspects of steel manufacture and construction, Conder Allslade’s unique, end-to-end service is only made possible through the partnerships it sustains with sub-contractors and suppliers. After design and fabrication, the company utilises the services of fellow steel specialists for management and erection, and its role becomes that of ensuring all interfaces between trades are covered. Collaboration between itself and subcontractors inevitably throws up challenges to health and safety, as well as threatening lapses in either schedule or quality. With an ingrained health and safety culture, Conder Allslade refuses to tolerate anyone flouting the rules and retains a strict code of conduct by which partners must abide. Subcontractors must complete a health and safety questionnaire as part of the approval process in which they must detail their safety performance, competence, training, insurance and other issues. Risk to health and safety is taken incredibly seriously, as Hunter continues: “All our supervisors have gone through either the Site Supervisor Safety Training Scheme (SSSTS) or the

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Featuring DCM Surfaces: Interview with Beverley Holden, Director

“So often, an approach to health and safety is characterised by compliance and audits can be seen as a major headache for contractors,” says Beverley Holden, Director of DCM Surfaces. “I’m of the opinion that I’d rather know if something is unsafe than not and auditing is very much a way of doing that.” Expressing utmost respect for employees and observing keen emphasis on health and safety, DCM Surfaces is one of the few subcontractors in the sector to express its unwavering commitment to the needs of its staff, as well as those of clients, which is why the company is regularly billed an exemplar of corporate responsibility. Established in 1995, DCM Surfaces has developed a unique identity in the sector, revered for its knowledge and flexibility when it comes to outdoor surfacing. Whilst the company was originally borne out of local and national initiatives to increase safety in public parks and playgrounds, the business has since grown exponentially to include a range of outdoor surfaces beyond purely safety surfacing. With the recent purchasing of a separate tarmacking business, the company is also able conduct civil engineering, groundworks and tarmacadam as Macadamize. As a result of an extending portfolio of services, DCM Surfaces now works for clients across industries and on a nationwide basis, acting as subcontractor to private and public sector clients. With new office and warehouse space, DCM Surfaces is well-equipped to handle its growing client base and widening repertoire. The new facilities represent a significant gain in efficiencies, and the company has gone from a storage capacity of 90t to 400t. Now able to mobilise material more quickly, serve projects of greater size, DCM Surfaces performs at a pace to outstrip any other. The company has established a loyal client base and is favoured for its quality and responsibility. DCM Surfaces aspires to much the same standard as the biggest and brightest in the construction industry, pertaining to the same principles and standards as one would expect of a main contractor. The company benefits from a close-knit team of specialists in design, installation, management and delivery, all operating in synergy. As Holden corroborates, “By directly employing all our staff, we safeguard the quality of work and encourage repeat business. More importantly though, it improves the morale of our team and inspires pride in the job. They get to know one another; each have the same over-arching ambition and the same ethics of safe, efficient and effective project delivery.” On-site safety continues to be challenged by the interfacing it demands between contracting parties involved. The same is true within a firm; safety requires everyone, from directors to installers, to take accountability for their own practice so as to prevent placing themselves or others at risk. Alongside a strong staff ethic, DCM Surfaces regularly unites on-site operatives to deliver toolbox talks, ensures each member understands his duties and responsibilities on a daily basis, and sources relevant health and safety training for all employees. On-site operatives each have an up-to-date CSCS card while supervisors and managers have been through the Site Supervisors Safety Training Scheme (SSSTS) or Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) as appropriate. With the addition of CHAS membership, DCM Surfaces evidences that strict code of practice and is provided not only a framework for its ambitions, but a means of testifying its continuous ethic to potential clients and partners. “CHAS is a means of differentiating the serious contractors from the ordinary,” attests Holden, “And it has always been our ambition to be a leader in surfacing design and installation. Alongside ISO 9001 accreditation, CHAS membership has provided us key competitive advantage and a quality assurance that simply isn’t available elsewhere.” One such client attracted by DCM Surfaces’ strong corporate values and exceptional quality products was one the of the UK’s leading main contractors, Kier Construction. A discerning client with exacting expectations, Kier posed distinct challenges for the sub-contractor as Holden explains: “During projects in Halesham and New Haven, we had to adapt our working methods so as to meet their health and safety requirements, purchasing four new mixers fitted with emergency stop buttons. Flexibility is a core value of the business and whether we’re working for a main contractor like Kier Construction or a small school, we always strive to deliver and produce something we can be proud of.” With ongoing audits and a growing order book, DCM Surfaces is determined to retain the quality workmanship by which it is known. And as it continues to promote employee development and welfare, and boasts a health and safety ethic beyond that of any like competitor, the company’s prestige is only set to enlarge and, with it, comes the opportunity to develop further capabilities and services.

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Featuring Loughton Contracts: Interview with Tony Mills, Director of Operations

Aesthetics is everything and good interior design has the ability to transform a building, mark its entry into the modern-day, and is key to creating something which is more than purely functional. Acknowledging the imperative of flooring as a key component of an aesthetic structure, and doing so in a manner that affords certainty in both quality and safety, Loughton Contracts has established a mode of practice whereby nothing is left to chance. Over the past thirty years, the company has grown exponentially, rapidly becoming the UK’s leading flooring contractor, successfully entering the commercial market and regularly working on high profile projects across the UK. Despite phenomenal expansion, the ambition of Loughton Contracts remains the same: to be the best flooring installer out there, and the company’s health and safety ethic – amongst its quality and professionalism – differentiates it from many like competitors. Refusing to be ordinary, the company is determined to do things differently, as Tony Mills, Director of Operations at Loughton Contracts asserts: “Within the construction industry, companies tend be reactive, rather than proactive. More often than not, health and safety becomes a box-ticking exercise and that’s not what we’re about. We want to be proactive. We want to find what’s best for our operatives and work hard to protect our staff.” Keen to prevent not just discrete injuries and loss time accidents but long-term health complaints too, the company takes a holistic view of health and safety well beyond either legal compliance or accreditation. In many ways, Loughton Contracts can be defined by being two steps ahead of the pack. The company insists on a 5 Point PPE policy, as well as enforcing any other kit required for each, individual job. Supplying and installing many different materials and in various dimensions, Loughton Contracts is adaptive and able to make subtle changes to working procedure across projects – utilising face-fitting masks for cutting timber and knee-pads for the hard-flooring team being just two examples. Having worked on a number projects, including prestigious universities and major blue chip organisations, during the course of 2015 Loughton Contracts installed flooring on a phenomenal scale at the new Tate Modern extension. It saw the company win Health and Safety Contractor of the Month multiple times over a twelve month period, pitching above around 30 other sub-contractors on site. The accolade came as a result of the combined efforts of management and operatives, each exuding responsibility for the team and business as a whole. The company’s specialist workforce is, in part, indebted to Loughton Contracts’ prolonged investment in training and development; the company recognises the importance of regular and progressive development. It’s with the introduction of a training matrix, listing both administrative and operations staff, that the contractor is able to instantly identify when employees are due for renewal as well as capitalise on upcoming opportunities with external providers. “I’ve done the budgets for this year and, with a quick scan of the matrix, know that 7 people need a CSCS card, four need to renew their SSSTS training, two need to do the SMTS course and, on top of that, we’re looking at promoting asbestos awareness and providing further training where we can.” With such attention paid to staff training and a united code of practice, it comes as no surprise that the company incurred zero accidents last year despite laying over a million square metres of flooring across 700 different projects. Not complacent however, with the log of one accident this January, a minor cut, Loughton Contracts has already launched an investigation as to why it happened in order to prevent it from happening again. As a result of its preliminary findings, the company has already enacted various changes to working practice: for instance, introducing retractable knives for the removal of packaging. Indeed, Loughton Contracts’ keen health and safety practice is set to tighten and advance further with this year seeing the introduction of an intranet system capable of hosting risk assessments, accident reports, toolbox talks and method statements and all other documentation relevant to the job. Tony Mills provides further detail: “Not only does this work alongside our database and is helping us to create a more paperless environment, the intranet allows us greater efficiency with respect to getting the message out there. When out on site, our operatives can go straight to the most up to date forms and processes and go into a job with all the information they need to carry out work to the standard we expect. By the end of this year, the extranet system will be online and will allow greater interaction with the documentation in cases where things need to be amended, adapted or sent out.” Embedded within the company’s core and informing its future development, health and safety is something on which Loughton Contracts is simply unwilling to compromise. As their flooring work on one of the largest construction project in Europe, Battersea Power Station, gets underway, the company’s dedicated ethic and unique industry profile remains unshakeable and will no doubt continue to see Loughton Contracts foster the respect of clients and competitors alike.

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