A recent article in Contract Journal 'Come Together' reports that "On-line collaboration tools should be a no-brainer for the construction industry, yet their take up has been slow." The article points out that the construction industry, has one of the lowest IT spends of any business sector. However, the tide is turning as clients demand greater transparency with regard to project information and tighter controls. In a study carried out for the Network for Construction Collaboration Technology Providers (NCCTP) 74% of clients questioned said that they would be more likely to use contractors who had experience of on-line collaboration. In fact, 68% said that they would insist on it.
So why is this change taking place? The industry has a less than exemplary accident record as the HSE and the BBC do their best to keep us aware. The most significant driver, though, is the Client. The major ones including, for instance, Transport for London, are trying to drive the change. Joined Up Working is becoming high profile with more and more departments being made aware of the need to communicate and collaborate on all matters to do with construction safety. There are other drivers for change out there too, a major client of ours is looking to launch a ToolKit CS™ based on-line Health & Safety File / O&M Manual. This is another step in the process of change to be more 'open' about their processes and to invite participation in estate management, but on-line; without paper. The biggest issue facing us, though, concerns Europe's biggest construction project this century; the Olympics.
The Olympic Development Authority, has, as we reported last month, provided a blueprint for health & safety management: their Health & Safety Standard. The 184 page document sets out a standard for all aspects of construction. Not only that, they insist on collaboration from top to bottom. From sub contractor to delivery partner. The statements are inspiring. Whether they are achievable in the timescale allowed is highly questionable. Without collaboration and compliance tools, I would suggest, they stand no chance. As a major software developer, we are understandably very interested in the outcome and how we can help.
With this in mind, we have been working with our customers and consulting with the HSE over recent past months to work out our strategy for the ongoing development of our flagship product, ToolKit CS™. What is interesting is the ongoing need for a compliance system that manages rather more than the CDM or Asbestos related issues that our regulation based products address. We have, therefore, evolved a model that stretches to other application areas, including Environmental Management, for instance. In addition, the product addresses the "across the board management" processes, including auditing and key performance indicators. Taking this route to its logical conclusion, the resulting package will become a complete health, safety, environment, and quality compliance system (SHEQ).
An issue we all face is that of timeliness. We have been here before with our product development where we have provided products for the early achievers wanting to move forward with the best technological products on offer. The later adopters have, by definition, taken longer. In spite of the risks for both the developer and the user, we have continued to enhance and promote the concept of software solutions.
To pick up on where this article started, Yes, the tide is turning; ever so slowly. What we and our partners really want to know is "what is putting people off the use of technology?" Your feedback through our seminar programme, or by simply getting in touch, would be welcome.
Our regular six monthly product update is now on release to our customers. The update, code number 11f, includes:
This is an important update for our ToolKit CS™ customers and sets the stage for the CDM2 enhancements which will be released in time for the new legislation.
The BBC reported a crane accident on the 26th September 2006 which is now being investigated by the HSE.
"A crane that collapsed onto a block of flats in south-west London has to be removed to recover the body of a man who was crushed under it, police said. Michael Alexa, 23, died when he was hit by the 165ft (50m) crane as he washed his car in Battersea on Tuesday. The crane driver, 37, employed by Norfolk-based Falcon Crane Hire, also died when he was thrown from the machine cab. A post-mortem concluded that he died from multiple injuries, police said. The site has been closed and the Health and Safety Executive is investigating". Picture Pablo Behrens.
Trade unions have called for action to prevent widespread job cuts in the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and have expressed concern at the shift from enforcement towards a more advisory role.
An emergency resolution from HSE unions Prospect and PCS passed at last week's TUC Congress expressed 'deep concern' at HSE's announcement that a funding shortfall means up to 350 jobs are to go by 2008 .The resolution, which noted additional funding cuts were already planned, said: 'Such a reduction in HSE funding and staff would, if enacted, inevitably have an adverse impact on the HSE's effectiveness and ability to enforce health and safety standards at work.' It added that workers in high risk industries like construction and agriculture and young and migrant workers could be left more vulnerable as a result.
The resolution requires TUC's general council 'to seek government intervention to ensure that the HSE has the resources to prevent job cuts and avoid reversing the gradual improvement in the health and safety record of Great Britain; and to give full support to any campaign against the cuts by the HSE trade unions for the Health and Safety Executive to be properly funded and resourced.'
A separate motion calls on the TUC general council 'to do all in its power to secure better enforcement of health and safety legislation by the HSE', warning: 'The trend for the HSE to become less of an enforcement agency and more of an advisory body is symptomatic of a deregulatory approach.'
The HSE Website includes the following information regarding key dates for the CDM2 Regulations.
The CDM Working Group and the HSE are currently developing a launch strategy and compiling a list of events and activities that will contribute to the successful launch of the package. This will include the participation of Richard Boland, the HSE inspector who led the revision of the CDM regulations, at the Annual Ai Solutions Spring Conference mentioned below.
Compliance will become a major issue in CDM2. This seminar explores the issues raised in the new regulations and how everyone involved in construction will have to measure compliance in their projects, whether they are notifiable or not. Leading the way to measuring and reporting CDM2 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), we will explore how our prototyping can support the significant shift in the management processes required.
The seminar will be held in Leighton Buzzard and will include a buffet lunch for an inclusive fee of £35 plus VAT. Places are limited so please contact us now if you would like to attend.
Our 2007 annual conference will be held in London on Wednesday 18th April 2007 at the Royal Air Force Club Piccadilly. The keynote speaker will be Richard Boland of the HSE in his new role as Head of Construction Operations, London and the South East. He is in the process of handing over his former role as Principal Inspector H&S Construction Policy where he and his colleagues have completed the mammoth task of revising the CDM Regulations which are now expected to progress to the Statute Books this year.
The seminar will centre on the CDM2 regulations and how our ToolKit™ Compliance Software can help manage compliance not only in internal departments but also across organisations using the technology of your choice. Dave Carr Managing Director of Callsafe Services and Tim Britton of AA Projects will also be joining us as guest speakers.
The morning seminar will include a buffet lunch and will cost £95 plus VAT with a discount for ToolKit™ software users. Watch future newsletters for more details.
We regularly receive updates from our customers and contacts about changes to legislation, the latest rumours and so on. We try to be selective with what we pass on and acknowledge our sources as appropriate. If you have information of general interest in the Health & Safety, and particularly, CDM and Asbestos Management arena, then please let us know by e-mail if possible.