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Cuddy crisis deepens…

Work stopped on major site as administration bites.

It is just over a week since DemolitionNews broke the story that long-established Welsh contractor Cuddy Group had appointed an as-yet-unnamed administrator. Sadly, it appears that the crisis at the company is deepening.

Industry news portal Construction News is reporting that work has been halted on at least one major project. Furthermore, calls by Construction News, Demolition News and – no doubt – a large number of concerned creditors continue to go unanswered across Cuddy Group offices.

According to Construction News, the ongoing administration has resulted in work being halted on the demolition of the former Pontrilas factory in Llanelli. Carmarthenshire Council confirmed that the project was now “on stop”, and that it was in discussions with Cuddy operatives.

“Should Cuddy not be in a position to complete the remaining site works, we will engage with alternative contractors to complete what is required,” says the council’s executive board member for resources, David Jenkins. “No decision will be made until we are fully informed of the Cuddy situation.”

At the time of writing, Cuddy Group continues to appear as “compliant” on the website of the National Federation of Demolition Contractors.

Jobs – AOC Demolition seeking key staff…

New job opportunities with respected North West contractor.

Whitefield, Manchester-based demolition contractor AOC demolition has hit the recruitment trail and is seeking personnel across a broad spectrum of disciplines for work primarily in Yorkshire and the North West of England.

The company is seeking:

  • Demolition Machine Operators
  • CCDO Labourers
  • CCDO Gold Card Supervisors

All applicants must have demolition experience

Please contact AOC Demolition by email: info@anthonyoconnor.co.uk or telephone: 0161 766 4749

Another accident, another massive fine…

Two companies fined half a million pounds after worker left paralysed

Fines of more than half a million pounds have been handed down to two companies involved in an accident in which a worker was left permanently paralysed, losing the use of his legs.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 5 November 2015, Mr Marcel Păduraru, a Romanian construction worker, fell onto and then through a fragile plastic skylight into a basement over three metres below. He suffered a severed spine injury and will not regain the use of his legs. He was 30 years old at the time of the incident.

Grangewood Builders Limited had been appointed as the principal contractor to carry out a £5,000,000 refurbishment at a large house near Buckingham Palace on Chapel Road, London. Grangewood had engaged Trenchco Limited of to carry out specialised demolition work at the site.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that, despite work being carried out directly by the site skylight, neither company checked if it was fragile or took action to stop people falling through it.

Neither company ensured the work was adequately planned and, as a result, safe systems of work were not identified and implemented. Workers had been put at risk from construction activities at the site ranging from demolishing a roof without edge protection to manually handling wood beams weighing an estimated 200kg.

The investigation also found that the Trenchco supervisor directly controlling the work had no formal training relating to supervision and some of the workers, including the Romanian victim, had to rely on unofficial interpreters to pass on instructions and tell them what the health and safety records contained.

Grangewood Builders Limited of Lionel Road, Canvey Island, Essex pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 13(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and was fined £270,000 and ordered to pay £7,025.98 in costs.

Trenchco Limited of Clewer Crescent, Harrow Weald, Middlesex pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 15(2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and was fined £270,000 and ordered to pay £7,025.98 in costs.

“The risks relating to fragile skylights being fallen through and the simple solutions to avoid this are well known. The failings at the site were not limited to the unprotected plastic skylight. Other activities such as the demolishing of a roof without edge protection could also have resulted in a serious incident,” says HSE inspector Andrew Verrall-Withers. “While these companies may have wanted health and safety compliance, their failure to pay enough attention to their actual performance at the site resulted in a tragedy occurring. No one should go to work and return unable to walk again”

Video – The Chuck Norris of smartphones…

Tired of destroying valuable smartphones on site? We may have the answer:

Contained within a military-grade case, the T400s smartphone is water and dustproof.; drop and shock resistant at heights of up to 1.5 metres, and might just be the first truly demolition-proof smartphone.

DemolitionNews took it for a test drive during the Hillhead 2018 exhibition, and returned suitably impressed.

If you like what you see, you can buy one from TuffPhones.co.uk and take advantage of a 10% discount by using discount code: DemolitionNews10.

Comment – Temporary fix is not the answer…

David Keane might steady the NFDC ship; but can he fix the holes below the waterline?

In the period from its formation in 1941 to its 70th anniversary in 2001, the National Federation of Demolition Contractors had 31 presidents. Although the figures are queered slightly by the fact that Sidney Hunt Snr returned for a second stint in the role, that equates to roughly a president every two years.

Since the beginning 2017, the Federation has had two presidents, a pair of caretaker presidents, and now an acting president who will attempt to steady the ship until the scheduled annual general meeting in March 2019.

During that time, the Federation has seen its membership dwindle to an all-time low, a process that could gain pace with recent company acquisitions and closures. And its influence has waned amidst prolonged and protracted in-fighting and political jostling.

That jostling ousted one passionate but divisive president – Paul Brown – earlier this year. And now in a case of “hoist by their own petard” writ large, it now seems to have robbed an eminently qualified and committed man – Martin O’Donnell – of the chance to take up a role he has earned over the past decade.

The return of David Keane as acting president is not entirely surprising. Keane’s name – together with that of another former president David Clarke – was bandied about as a potential temporary stand-in when Paul Brown was unceremoniously handed a sword upon which to fall earlier this year. And, in many ways, he is the ideal candidate.

Keane is widely respected and he is seen as one of the Federation’s last true diplomats and statesmen. He will need all those powers and a good deal more if he is to steady a ship tossed by waves of self-inflicted disorder and rocked by adversity.

But for all his qualities, the odds are stacked against Keane being able to turn around the Federation’s fortunes in the nine or so months he is expected to hold the role. Because while the focus has been on the revolving door to the president’s office, the real malaise runs considerably deeper and will be significantly more difficult to fix.

In recent years, the Federation – together with its training arm the NDTG – has pursued profit over influence. It has used weasel-worded advertising to suggest that NFDC members are – universally – the industry elite, even though evidence proves that they are every bit as prone to accidents and every bit as predisposed to financial troubles as the rest of the industry. It has attempted to shore up a dwindling corporate membership with more associate members and an erosion of the rules that had formerly seen drilling and sawing companies and plant hirers as possible competitors rather than fellow members. And it has pursued, largely in vain, an attempt to encourage members of Build UK – an association of the UK’s largest and most influential main contractors – to work only with Federation members.

Most unforgiveable of all, the National Federation of Demolition Contractors has failed to provide value to its members, the very people it was created to help and whose needs are the very reason for the Federation’s very existence.

I sincerely hope that Martin O’Donnell is granted the opportunity to become president. He has earned the right. I sincerely hope that David Keane’s acting presidency is successful. Accepting such a potentially thankless task is the mark of a true Federation man.

But the president is not the problem. The members are not the problem. The industry, which is enjoying a period of almost unprecedented stability, is not the problem either.

And until the wider membership recognises that, the problems that have seen the Federation have a decades’ worth of presidents in less than two years will persist.

Keane to help…

Former NFDC president returns to steady ship.

In the latest twist in the ongoing saga at the National Federation of Demolition Contractors, former president David Keane has stepped in as acting president, taking up the tiller until the next annual general meeting in March 2019.

The Federation’s presidency was thrown into turmoil earlier this year when Paul Brown was forced to step down when his employment with an NFDC member company came to an end. In a hastily agreed solution, Brown’s vice president Martin O’Donnell and second vice president Holly Bennet were to share the role until the 2019 AGM.

But as we reported just a few weeks ago, with the acquisition of Martin O’Donnell’s company KDC Contractors by Veolia, O’Donnell questioned whether he too might fall foul of the Federation rule that saw his predecessor ousted.

Although the obtuse nature of the statement issued by the NFDC in the wake of yesterday’s National Council meeting makes it impossible to tell if O’Donnell will be permitted to stand as president, it is clear that the presidential mantle will be temporarily taken up by David Keane who last wore the chains of office way back in 2001.

“I am delighted to have the opportunity to serve as Acting President of the NFDC in the interim until the next AGM on 8th March 2019,” Keane says. “I will be supported by Martin O’Donnell and second vice president Holly Price both of whom have done an outstanding job for the Federation since their appointment.”

Read more here.

Video – Demolition stress relief…

Manhattan company using “demolition room” as therapy.

It is an idea that could only have originated in the US, home of therapy for just about anything that ails you.

A company in Manhattan called Wrecking Club has created what it describes as a “demolition room” where customers can vent their anger and relieve the stress of the day by beating the living crap out of a series of inanimate objects.

Sadly, the video (below) doesn’t explain how stressed or angry demolition workers might benefit from a room that seeks to replicate their day job:

We Test Ultimate Stress Relief DESTRUCTION THERAPY from Ryan McDaniel on Vimeo.

Card cost set to rise…

…and in other news, water is wet.

Industry news portal Construction Enquirer is reporting that the cost of skills card issued by the Construction Skills Certification Scheme is set to rise to £36 from September.

The 20 percent rise from the current rate of £30 is the first increase for eight years and applies to all cards administered directly by CSCS.

Graham Wren, CSCS Chief Executive said: “We have managed to maintain the current card price for the last eight years however inflationary pressure, together with increased costs associated with combatting fraudulent activity, have pushed our costs up to the point where the current price is not sustainable.

“In addition, with our current contact centre provider CITB having served notice to exit the service contract the CSCS Board have agreed to invest in new technology and systems to ensure the application process is modernised.”

CSCS says it is announcing the price-rise now to ensure the industry has sufficient time to make the necessary “adjustments” before September.

One for the girls…

Our second children’s book meets need from young girls.

As regular readers will recall, a few weeks ago we took a bumper order for our original children’s book – My Dad Does Demolition.

Those books were destined for a number of schools to help demolition contractors engage with young people and to give them an insight into precisely what demolition is all about.

A teacher at one of those schools was very impressed, but also wondered if – perhaps – we might have a book in which young girls were featured more prominently. And thankfully, we could tell her that we do indeed.

As a result, there is a box-load of copies of My Dad Drives a Digger – which features a young girl as the central character – winging its way to a school in the Midlands as we speak. In fact, that order was so large that it has almost depleted our stocks (although we have a few copies available). So we have ordered yet another reprint to help satisfy demand.

You can grab the books using the linked below:

My Dad Drives a Digger
My Dad Does Demolition

Video – We have blast-off…

Controlled implosion brings down historic Cape Canaveral launch-pad.

They supported some of the US’ first satellite launches, helped send probes to other planets and to establish the GPS satellite constellation so embedded in everyday life.

But earlier today, the twin towers at Launch Complex 17 at Cape Canaveral collapsed in a cloud of dust, brought down by controlled explosion.

Complex 17 was activated in 1957 for test launches of Thor ballistic missile, and was later known for space missions by Delta rockets. In all, it hosted 325 launches.

Most recently, the site was home for more than 20 years to United Launch Alliance’s workhorse Delta II program, which last flew from the Cape nearly seven years ago, sending a pair of gravity mapping probes to the moon for NASA on 10 September 2011.

Launch Complex 17 and neighbouring Complex 18 now are occupied by Moon Express, a private company developing small lunar landers that NASA may use to send science instruments to the lunar surface in the next few years.

Read more here, or view the video below:

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