|Posted by wilkinsoncc on November 14, 2013 at 9:05 AM||comments (0)|
Podcast first published on Building Design Expert September 2013
We chat with Geoff Wilkinson, and he shares his thoughts on the current Building Regulations, their value and some of their short-comings, and a lot more besides.
This podcast is approximately 43 minutes long
The podcast can also be downloaded from iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/building-design-expert-blog/id639243437 ;
|Posted by wilkinsoncc on September 3, 2013 at 10:40 AM||comments (0)|
The HSE have announced it will carry out a major inspection and enforcement initiative targeting the refurbishment sector, from 2 to 27 September 2013.
The HSE has said it will focus in particular on small sites to demonstrate that it is prepared to use the enforcement tools at its disposal to prevent immediate risk and bring about sustained improvements
The initiative will focus on the main causes of accidents and ill-health in refurbishment, including: falls from height, temporary works (structural stability) asbestos & respirabile silica and site welfare.
To ensure that you are up to date why not subscribe to our Health & Safety Advisory service? For just £98 + VAT per annum you get
To find out more email email@example.com quoting #HSEAdvice
|Posted by wilkinsoncc on August 28, 2013 at 10:40 AM||comments (0)|
The Government have announced new online national planning guidance which it hopes will give much needed simplicity and clarity to the planning system.
Planning shouldn’t just be the preserve of technocrats, lawyers and council officers. Yet up to now even the experts have struggled to plough through all the background documents and find the right advice. To be effective planning needs to be supported by practical guidance that anyone can consult and follow.
The existing technical guidance, often complex and repetitive, is catalogued in an astonishing 230 separate documents and is almost impossible to use effectively. Following an external review, ministers have proposed a new streamlined planning practice and today (28/8/2113) sees the opening of the new tool in test mode and for comment. Unfortunately none of the current planning practice guidance can be cancelled until the final online guidance is in place and live later in the autumn.
This is a great step forward but I dont feel it goes far enough, and certaintly does nothing to speed up the process or improve the customer experience of making a planning application. Dont get me wrong some Council planning department are excellent, but a lot are simply shocking, missing deadline after dealine for getting applications processed. What I believe we need is an expansion of competition by allowing approved persons to certify and self-certify planning compliance or to allow applicants and agents to process applications under delegated powers or prior to commitee regardless of the location of the development.
We have already seen that competition between local authorities and Approved Inspectors in the provision of building control services provide a stimulus to greater efficiency and higher standards of service to the customer .
The introduction of competition in development control is the logical future for the new planning regime, struggling to balance the need to speed up the system with limited public resource. Whilst some might argue that it must remain a LA function performed by LA employees the truth is that there has already been creeping privatisation under the Labour Government - to the extent that saw entire departments taken over by private suppiliers (see http://www.capitasymonds.co.uk/partnerships/breckland.aspx) .
A proposal to allow Approved Persons could introduce competition in service provision but still ensure impartial and professionally managed local consultation and free up Councillors and their officers to focus on ‘the vision’: getting and keeping their policies and local plan-making up to date – surely this is the proper role for democracy in planning.
Todays announcement can be read in full at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-streamlined-planning-guide-launched-online ;
|Posted by wilkinsoncc on July 22, 2013 at 11:30 AM||comments (0)|
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|Posted by wilkinsoncc on April 25, 2013 at 10:30 AM||comments (0)|
Two companies were today (24 April) ordered to pay a total of £794,658 in fines and costs after a driver was run over and killed by his own lorry.
Father-of-three Gary Walters, 51, was working for Gloucester-based contract haulier Larkins Logistics Ltd when the fatal incident occurred on 11 October 2010.
He was collecting a trailer loaded with structural concrete products from Bison Manufacturing Ltd in William Nadine Way, Swadlincote, Derbyshire. He failed to apply the brake in his cab and, because Bison’s drivers had not applied the brake to the trailer, the vehicle moved off as he was coupling the two parts together.
Mr Walters, of The Street, Crowmarsh, Oxfordshire, is believed to have gone round the front of the vehicle, possibly in an attempt to get into the cab and apply the brakes, but he was struck by the cab and run over. He died of multiple injuries.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that drivers working for Bison did not routinely apply the trailer brakes to ensure the units were safely parked. Following Mr Walters’ death, a police vehicle examiner examined ten other trailers at the site but none had the brakes applied, and no other manual system of restraint, such as chocks or hooks, was in place.
Both companies had identified the risk to workers, but had failed to implement appropriate control measures. Their method of working ignored published safety guidance, which meant that drivers and other employees were all at risk.
Following a trial on 8 and 9 April 2013 Larkins Logistics Ltd, of Dobbs Hill Farm, Staunton, Gloucester, was found guilty of breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was today (24 April) fined £350,000 for the Section 2(1) offence, £100,000 for the Section 3(1) offence and ordered to pay full costs of £23,317.
Bison Manufacturing Ltd, of Bridge Place, Anchor Boulevard, Admirals Park, Crossways, Dartford, Kent, admitted the same charges and was fined £233,000 for the Section 2(1) offence, £67,000 for the Section 3(1) offence and ordered to pay full costs of £21,341.
Mr Walters had three children with his wife Vanessa – James, who was 19 at the time of the incident, Joanna, 15, and Tanya, 13. Mrs Walters said:
"I hope that people learn from this tragedy and that today’s prosecution will go some way to changing the way people in the same industry work. I do not want this to happen to another family.
"Telling our children their dad had died was the worst experience of my life. I felt so helpless that they were hurting and that there was nothing I could do to make it better. As a parent you want to protect your children at whatever cost.
|Posted by wilkinsoncc on April 18, 2013 at 1:00 PM||comments (0)|
A client is an organisation or individual for whom a construction project is carried out.
Clients only have duties when the project is associated with a business or other undertaking (whether for profit or not). This can include local authorities, school governors, insurance companies and project originators on Private Finance Initiative (PFI) projects.
However domestic clients are a special case and do not have duties under CDM Regulations. Domestic clients are people who have work done on their own home or the home of a family member.
BUT that does not relate to a trade or business, whether for profit or not. It is the type of client that matters, not the type of property.
Local authorities, housing associations, charities, landlords and other businesses may own domestic property, but they are not domestic clients. Also if the work is in connection with the furtherance of a business attached to domestic premises (ie a shop) the client is not a domestic client. Sometimes groups who would otherwise be domestic clients form companies to administer construction work.
A common example of this is a company formed by leaseholders of flats to undertake maintenance of the common parts of a structure. In such a case the company is not a domestic client and will have duties under the regulations.
As domestic clients have no client duties under CDM which means that there is no legal requirement for appointment of a CDM-C or principal contractor when such projects reach the notification threshold. Similarly, there is no need to notify HSE where projects for domestic clients reach the notification threshold.
However, its often forgotten that designers and contractors still have their normal duties as set out in Parts 2 and 4 of CDM and domestic clients will have duties under Part 4 of the regulations if they control the way in which construction work is carried out. Designers and contractors working for domestic clients have to manage their own work and co-operate with and co-ordinate their work with others involved with the project so as to safeguard the health & safety of all involved in the project. The guidance in http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg344.pdf is a great starting point.
If you are unsure if the rules apply to your project contact firstname.lastname@example.org for general advice and prices for writing Health & Safety Files, RAMS etc
|Posted by wilkinsoncc on April 16, 2013 at 9:40 AM||comments (0)|
GUEST BLOG - Poorer people are more at risk of house fires
Natasha Sabin - Island Fire Protection
The Philpott case is a harsh reminder of how poorer children are at greater risk of dying in a house fire. While the fire was deliberately ignited in the Philpott case, there are many other poor children who are victims of accidental fires. Older housing, fewer precautions and overcrowding are all factors.
The NHS reports that domestic fires are more prevalent in low-income areas. CAPT charity reports that children are 38 times more likely to die in a house if their parents have never worked, or are long-term unemployed.
Poorer housing conditions
Those from a lower-income household are more likely to live in poor condition housing. This means that there are far more hazards that can lead to house fires, such as faulty wiring.
On top of this larger families tend to live in smaller houses, meaning there is more clutter that will help the fire spread.
Another problem is that people from lower-income households are more likely to live in rented accommodation, which is another risk factor. Cornwall council states that you are seven times more at risk of a house fire if you live in a rented property.
This is because rented properties tend to be more poorly maintained – occupiers are reluctant to invest in a property that is not their own, and owners are less inclined to maintain a building they are not occupying. While it is the landlord’s duty to ensure the home is fire safe, tenants may not be aware of this. Similarly, landlords may not be aware that one of their houses is in need of repair or maintenance, especially if that home has been occupied by the same tenants over a long period of time.
On top of this, lower income homes also tend to have fewer safety devices. CAPT report that lower-income households are less likely to own a working smoke alarm.
Overcrowding in homes, which is linked to low-income and poverty, is also a factor. Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) are buildings occupied by more than one family. This includes flats, hostels and sheltered accommodation.
The more people occupying a building, the greater the risk of fire is, simple because there are more sources of ignition and electrical appliances. Also, types of buildings that house a large number of people are more likely to be poorly constructed and be occupied by vulnerable people.
According to Bedfordshire council, you are six times as likely to die in a fire if you live in a HMO as you are if you live in a single occupancy home. You are also more likely to sustain a burn or scald. The risks are even higher if tenants don’t know each other.
There is a strong correlation between income and smoking. If you are poorer, you are more likely to smoke. Cigarettes and smoking materials, of course, are one of the leading sources of ignitions in all house fires. Ironically, smoking in the house reduces the likelihood of having a working smoke alarm.
Natasha Sabin is a fire safety enthusiast from Island Fire Protection, who specialise in providing a range of services to help make the business sector safer.
photo credit: jc-pics via photopin cc
|Posted by wilkinsoncc on March 25, 2013 at 1:10 PM||comments (0)|
The latest Annual Report from BCPSAG in respect of the 2011/2012 returns has now been published. This is the first set of returns on the revised Performance Indicators, which have generated a record number of returns.
The Report is available on our links page or on the BCPSAG website at: http://www.cic.org.uk/services/the-performance-indicators.php
The results provide indicators regarding the performance of Building Control Bodies measured against the National Performance Standards.
This analysis work was carried out and the report produced by ELJ Consulting on behalf of the Building Control Performance Standards Advisory Group (BCPSAG). Funding was provided by the Department of Communities and Local Government.
The key findings of the analysis are:
• 199 BCBs participated this year, more than double last year's response of 85. Of these 89 respondents took part in the survey for the first time.
• Performance in the Process Management Performance Indicator was good, with the majority of respondents covering 12 or more of the 14 areas questioned. Three areas were identified as having room for improvement; pre-application advice, checks on dormant jobs, and certification before completion.
• Responses to the Complaints Handling Process Indicator showed complaints rates were very low, with the average BCB receiving only one complaint per 236 applications. Half of the respondents resolved 80% or more of their complaints to customer’s satisfaction, though individual performance varied widely.
• The Building Control Work indicator clearly shows that whilst domestic alterations, extensions and improvements constitute an average 68% per cent of applications this generates only 56% of fees, conversely for other types of project fees generate a higher percentage than projects.
• Responses to the Building Control Staff questions showed that BCB's predominantly employed full-time direct staff over half of whom were fully qualified with corporate membership of relevant professional bodies.
• At just over 18% the largest proportion of staff had specialist experience in fire engineering and risk assessment, whilst the lowest area of expertise was acoustics which on average1 stood at 4% of staff.
• Women made up an average proportion of 24% of staff. Almost two-thirds (63%) of staff were between the ages of 41 and 60 with the under 24 proportion being low (3.2%).
• Over the past year more BCBs lost employees than gained, but the majority of respondents reported no change. This suggests a slight reduction in the size of BCB workforces over the last 12 months.
If you would like to know more about how we scored contact email@example.com
|Posted by wilkinsoncc on November 19, 2012 at 7:25 PM||comments (0)|
In the Guardian today (October 26th) the Government have announced another review of the Building Regs http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/oct/26/government-building-standards-review-regulation
Twitter has been awash with people condemning the move and blasting the Government, but actually I would support the move. Heres my top 10 'Regulations' to slash and burn this Halloween.
1) Local Acts - This is long over due, there really is no justification in requiring sprinklers in an office in an Inner London Borough such as Hackney, but not in an outer London Borough such as Waltham Forest.
2) Code for Sustainable Homes - CSH is often applied through Planning Consents by Planners who have no understanding of how buildings are constructed, and should be withdrawn.
3) BREEAM - In fact not only would I remove CSH, I would go further and break the link between Planning and Energy use completely, and also remove BREEAM, and all the other energy codes and models. The Building Regs Part L are the only regs we need, and these should also be updated to reflect Passivhaus standards
4) Warranty Link Rule - WLR prevents competition in the housing market by requiring a registered warranty with any new build house. This means that houses sold with an architects certificate cannot be signed off by Approved Inspectors and therefore must go through the Loacl Authority Building Control system.
5) Part G Water use calculations - This is a beaurcratic nightmare for small builders, the same effect effect could be achieved by local water metering of appliances in new buildings to show the actual cost to the consumer.
6) Approved Document D - An entire document devoted to preventing toxic fumes from Urea Formaldehyde. Cant remember the last time I actually saw UF in use, and certaintly doesnt warrant a reulation of its own.
7) Construction Design & Management regulations - These could be incorporated within the Building Regulations and over seen by a single body rather than requiring seperate notification as at the present time.
8 )The Scottish System - Currently there is no choice of service provider in the Scottish System. Introducing Licensed Approved Inspectors would mean builders north of the border would finally have an alternative to the current beaurcratic system.
9) Extend the Self Certification system - Competent Plumbers, Electricians etc can already self certify thier own work (EG under Part P). There is no reason why this could not be extended to other trades, services or even entire buildings, indeed there is already legislation to allow this (Appointed Persons) - it just needs to be enacted.
10) Secure by Design - Another standard that should simply be absorbed into the main building regulations.
|Posted by wilkinsoncc on September 10, 2012 at 2:50 AM||comments (0)|
The past few weeks have been dominated by the 2012 Paralympics which has almost certainly changed people's attitudes towards disability permanently for the better. For too long compliance with access regulation has been considered a burden when in fact it presents a huge opportunity if they are willing to grasp it. With the evolution of building automation technology, designers have the potential to make a huge difference to the lives of many people. The press coverage and controversy about 'blade runners' has shown just how advances in technology have transformed the lives of amputees and now enables them to compete (and even outperform) able bodied athletes.
The Paralympics have also done an excellent job of educating the public that disability comes in many forms and is not just about wheelchairs. Indeed there's now much greater recognition that most of us will be less than fully able, be it physically, sensory, or intellectually, at sometime in our lives – through birth, disease, accident or age. This is especially important to understand given the expanding aged population which is predicted to grow by 71%* by 2040 (*% increase in people over age 65 in 2040 compared to 1998 according to Joseph Rowntree Foundation).
From the regs perspective its now over a decade since the introduction of Access Requirements in Part M of the Building Regulations 2000, which were subsequently widened in 2004 to cover the needs of all people, including those with limited mobility, and other impairments.
The current principal route for compliance is the 'Access Statement' which has been a recommendation within the Approved Document since 2004, and under planning law, since 2006. The function of the Access Statement (AS) is to demonstrate how people are offered ‘reasonable’ access to buildings and their facilities. Developing an AS can allow flexibility from the guidance in the Approved Document, particularly when dealing with the constraints of existing buildings or historic environments, allowing innovative approaches to be explored and recorded. The AS also serves as an audit trail in case of future claim under the Equalities Act 2010 (which replaced the Disability Discrimination Act) and also give guidance for those responsible for the building.
AS can take various forms and the level of detail required will vary according to the size, nature and complexity of the proposed project. A proper AS should be project specific, although some elements, such as company policies, may be more generic.
Basically, there are four stages in the preparation of complete access statements:
Stage 1 - Overview
List relevant legislation, the basics of the project and existing conditions (where appropriate)
Stage 2 - Global/Site Level
Details of the site plan including transport links to the development and external landscaping,
Explain what access issues were considered when formulating the planning application.
Details of any consultations with user groups or the wider community
Stage 3 - Building Design
This should cover
Horizontal circulation within the building
Facilities such as toilets, changing areas, tea points etc
Ideally you should identify which standards and guidance were used.
Identify deviations and any assumptions made.
Stage 4 - Occupancy
This section should explain the proposals for on-going maintenance and consideration of future accessibility issues.
However, the use of AS has been subject to abuse and in December 2010 DCLG announced an intention to review existing guidance that promotes the use of Access Statements in order to consider whether they remain appropriate. This was prompted by a range of concerns expressed during the consultation on future changes to Building Regulations in 2010, and subsequent discussions with key parties.
• Access officers said that even where an AS is mandatory (at the planning stage) the quality and usefulness varied considerably and that there was confusion as to how planning and building control stages overlapped or were intended to work together.
• Groups representing disabled people believed AS should be more widely used in particular to address common errors in provision. They also expressed concern as to the level of priority given to access issues by building control bodies and designers and suggested that inclusive design training needed to be improved.
• Building control officers supported the view that the quality of Access Statements varied considerably and noted that they were typically poor
• and often misrepresented what was actually included in proposals.
The 2012 consultation document* proposed that guidance should be revised to move away from reliance on written documents and instead set out the need to agree an access strategy which ensures reasonable provision by focusing on key risks and issues. The revised approach is also intended to encourage a wider range of interaction between applicants and building control bodies which may be better suited to the skills and resources available to applicants.
The consultation also recognised that there continues to be confusion about which matters are best considered at the planning stage and which are best considered at building control stage. To address this DCLG are looking at how a clearer understanding of access considerations at a planning and building control stage can be promoted. This is likely to be based upon a campaign to improve skills and understanding amongst design professionals including building control officers, planners, access officers, architects, landscape architects, etc. Inclusive design should already form part of most continuing professional development programmesand educational curricula and extensive guidance are freely available, but are not seen as a priority by many.
Hopefully the Paralympics will encourage you all to undertake further training and raise the profile of technology as a way to further the design of accessible environments. For example 'sexy' features such as building automation are a way in which technology can improve the lives of those with disabilities, providing them with the independence to do simple everyday tasks, at the touch of a button. Technology now means occupants (able bodied or not) can benefit from a holistic solution to control everything from door opening/closing, TV or audio devices and lighting levels remotely from a simple keypad (or even a Smartphone). As a result the less able can be more self-reliant and architects no longer need to have discussions about the height of switches and sockets!
* the consultation can be seen at http//:communities.gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/brconsultationsection1
We will be running Access Design CPD events in assocaition with Proudlock Associates at our offices in Portsmouth London and Kent - register your interest now by clicking on the enquiry page (link above).
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