Construction News

Sun September 19 2021

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Construction work that really is critical

27 Mar 20 Construction Industry Council chief executive Graham Watts has produced a list of construction work that is genuinely critical and must continue – and it’s a surprisingly long list.

Graham Watts
Graham Watts

Writing on the website of the Construction Industry Council, the umbrella body for the industry’s professions, Graham Watts backs calls for all non-critical construction to start to wind down immediately. “Construction sites cannot just be left,” he writes. “They need to be prepared for closure and left in a way that is safe and secure."

Industry guidance will soon be available on how to mothball sites safely.

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Mr Watts' list of critical works that have to continue makes for discussion. Here it is:

  • Make good unsafe buildings/dangerous structures – district surveyors need powers to instruct emergency work to be done to make them safe if any occur – and a hastily abandoned site might just lead to a dangerous structure occurring
  • Structural inspections for subsidence / movement to determine risk
  • Structural and roofing problems, loose tiles/chimney stacks, weathering
  • All general building control work (both LABC and AIs) for nationally important buildings / facilities, e.g. NHS estate, GPs, etc. 
  • Drainage works / maintenance etc – important to avoid any increased public health problems in this respect
  • Fire safety inspections
  • Requirement for maintenance of fire protection systems and equipment to meet fire safety legislation – even if buildings are not occupied
  • Ongoing need for fire risk assessments, both to meet legislation and new circumstances in buildings
  • Remedial work required to remove unsafe ACM cladding etc.
  • Glazing replacement
  • Locksmithing / lock replacement
  • Gas safety work/ suspected gas leaks
  • Electrical safety work/ electrical failures
  • Flood remediation (especially to homes hit by recent floods)
  • Plumbing and heating failures including loss of heating/condensation problems/hot water services
  • Emergency Leaking/ flooding
  • Health risks associated with blocked drainage/sewerage systems
  • Water companies – remedial / emergency work to buildings and assets that are crucial to the supply of clean water,
  • New or business/safety critical maintenance work on establishments which are involved in supply chain of vital NHS equipment (for example where manufacturers are building units to make ventilators)
  • Factories that are making anything required to combat the virus (e.g. a new hand sanitiser factory is under construction);
  • Food supply chain – essential new builds or maintenance on existing buildings
  • Extra warehouse space for food distribution by online platforms (to cope with massively increased demand)
  • New or business/safety critical maintenance work on establishments which are involved in supply of medicines,
  • Essential maintenance on morgues, funeral parlours, and crematoriums
  • Essential maintenance and remediation across the health sector
  • Installation/maintenance technicians providing services to key sectors – health, power etc
  • Emergency callouts, safety checks and essential work in care homes
  • Ongoing supervision and security measures
  • Sites where anti-terrorism considerations need to take precedence over other concerns – eg Palace of Westminster.
  • Urgent works on emergency service properties other than health - police, fire, for example
  • Unsafe infrastructure – if a lorry strikes a bridge during the shutdown, for example, then work may be needed to make safe the affected structure
  • Bridge inspection and maintenance
  • Dam inspection and maintenance
  • Maintaining key national infrastructure: power stations and grid, motorways, railways, utilities etc.
  • Repair and maintenance of telecommunications, energy waste and water – these are vital to work from home
  • R&D facilities, where related to vaccine development or virus treatment
  • Work on factories that make materials that are vital to all elements on this list

He emphasises that this list is not exhaustive and other safety-critical work needs to be added. Suggestions?

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