Sinclair goes global…

“Grandfather of demolition” shows no signs of slowing.

Someone recently described David Sinclair as the “grandfather of demolition”. I am sure it was not intended to be disparaging in any way. Sinclair turns 74 fairly soon and he has spent much of his working life in the demolition sector. He is also a grandfather.

But the term grandfather of demolition suggests that he will soon be sat in a rocking chair, a blanket strewn across his lap, reminiscing about the “good old days” in his native Scotland; Australia, where he lived for some time; and the US where he now resides.

And that could not be further from the truth. Sinclair was recently recruited by the international firm of consulting engineers, Wood Environmental & Infrastructure Solutions Inc. He will operate from his base in the USA and will be involved in the future with Wood on demolition and dismantling projects on a global basis.

He plays a major role in the development of project specific demolition and decommissioning execution plans including assisting with the preparation of the health and safety plan, means and method statements, risk assessments, scheduling and project budget costing.

In addition to his new role, Sinclair will continue to assist US-based Envirocon Inc.

A grandfather he might be. But David Sinclair shows no signs of slowing. If anything, he just got his second breath!

Demolition thrill ride…

You will not see a better demolition drone video in this lifetime.

If you uffer from motion sickness, look away now. If you have just eaten breakfast, hold on tight as you might be seeing it again VERY soon.

We were sent the video below all the way from Russia and, without wishing to spoil the surprise, it is an astonishing thrill ride through, over and around a demolition site like nothing oyu have ever seen before. So strap in, brace yourself for the G-force, and hit the play button below:

Indian cooling towers felled…

Video captures double cooling tower demolition.

Crews have carried out the controlled explosive demolition of a pair of cooling towers at the Gandhinagar power station in the Indian province of Gujarat.

Ironbridge implosion imminent…

Less than a week till the colling towers come down.

Work is progressing one the demolition of the Ironbridge Power Station. But on Friday this week, the project will hit a major landmark as the former power station’s cooling towers are blasted.

Jet powered implosion…

Precision blast fells former bank building in South Africa.

Jet Demolition successfully imploded the fire-damaged Bank of Lisbon building in Johannesburg CBD yesterday.

Standing at 108 metres tall and within less than eight metres of its neaest neighbour, the contract qualified as one of the most technically demanding projects Jet Demolition has ever undertaken.

It took 894 kg of explosives, and approximately eight seconds to safely bring this giant down. The blast managed to place the structure within its’ own basement, on a bias due to space restrictions, with no overspill on an incredibly dense site.

Florida felling…

CDI chalks up another major blast success.

Controlled Demolition, Inc. (CDI), acting as explosives subcontractor to Hardin Industrial Services, LLC. of Cypress, Florida has carried out the explosive felling of a boiler and a 99 metre tall reinforced concrete chimney in Auburndale, Florida.

Liverpool of talent…

Initiative aims to help plug skills gap.

Complete Training Solutions, a health and safety specialist training organisation based in Liverpool, has been running a successful partnership with Job Centre Plus to help fill skills shortages in the demolition sector.

At the beginning of the year, Complete Training Solutions entered into a partnership with Jobcentre Plus to provide those struggling to find work with real qualifications and training, as well as an opportunity to find work afterwards, in the demolition industry. With a growing demolition need and a skills shortage, there is a need for safety training to help fill those skills shortages. Some of the qualifications that were gained through the programme include: CCDO Card, UKATA Certification and Emergency First Aid at Work.

The programme lasted 2 weeks, with a variety of courses being conducted depending on the needs of employers and the best fit for the individual. Participants were guided through safety courses necessary for work on a construction site, gaining skills such as manual handling and asbestos safety in order to meet health and safety standards.

In addition to technical skills, participants gained valuable employment skills from the programme. Knowledge about operating within the demolition sector was key, with the added bonus of timekeeping and teamwork skills. Overall, the programme aimed to create a well-rounded individual ready for entry into a demolition site position.

“It has been really rewarding for us, as a training provider, to see individuals being given the chance to up-skill themselves and then move on to meaningful, sustainable employment,” says Complete Training Solutions’ CEO Tom Powell. “We have operated in the training sector for the past 5 years and it is nice to be in a position to give something back to our local community.”

Since the beginning of the partnership in February, 58 participants have moved through the CCDO programme, with over 70% having since entered the workforce. Staff Hire UK has been instrumental with recruitment efforts throughout the duration of the program, helping to connect a number of participants with employers. According to market research giant Ibis World, the UK demolition sector has seen a 19.3% annual growth rate over the past 5 years, with an overall industry value of £1.4 billion. It’s the hope of both Jobcentre Plus and Complete Training Solutions that these numbers will reflect a steady frame of employment for participants of the programme.

Click here to find out more.

Shark Attack!

World-exclusive of new British-built demolition robot.

There is a new entrant to the highly competitive demolition robot arena. Bedfordshire-based ES Robotics has unveiled a new four-model range of remote controlled machines, each of which benefits from dual ful diesel/electric power for faster travel speeds coupled with low emission operation.

There will be a full report on the new Akula (Russian for shark, apparently) range in the next edition of the Demolition magazine.

In the meantime, please check out our world exclusive video of the new machines:

Jobs – Demolition Project Manager

One of the South East’s longest established providers of demolition is looking to recruit a Project Manager to join their team.

Minimum requirements:

  • 5 years experience of managing demolition projects
  • CCDO black card
  • Be based in London/Home Counties

Preference will be given to candidates that have knowledge of environmental and quality management, as well as those with a strong background in asbestos removal. The Candidate will ideally have SMSTS.

Responsibilities
This role requires strong management skills to oversee complex projects involving the demolition of commercial, residential, industrial buildings and infrastructure throughout the South East. Applicants must have a thorough knowledge of demolition site procedures and be fully conversant with current legislation.

The successful candidate will be confident, well-organised, proactive, have excellent communication and IT skills and the ability to liaise with colleagues, clients, contractors and members of the public at all levels.

The role will include the following specific tasks:

  • Risk assessments and preparation of RAMS
  • Managing project resources
  • Project cost and budget management
  • Management and liaison with asbestos removal teams
  • Management of site personnel
  • Client liaison, attendance at meetings
  • Ensuring the preparation and completion of all site documentation
  • Producing weekly project reports
  • Ensuring employees’ and sub-contractors’ work conforms to the Company’s quality, safety and environmental standards (ISO 9001, OHSAS 18001, ISO 14001)

 

About the company
Established in the 1960s the Company specialises in demolition, asbestos removal and building works. With a current turnover of circa £10 million, the Company delivers projects throughout London and the South East which range in value from £50k to £4million and has a well-earned reputation of professionalism and quality.

Please email your Application/CV to enquiries@handmademarketing.co.uk

 

Caught in the NVQ Poverty Trap

The human cost of high-cost training, qualification and competence verification.

Last night, just after normal office hours, I took one of the most difficult phone calls of my professional career. Given that I have previously received calls from the bereaved families of men killed in the line of demolition duty and from those that have just seen their life’s work crumble into insolvency, that is really saying something.

I won’t use the real name of the caller, even though he was happy for me to do so. In light of what he said to me, I personally fear that naming him would further jeopardise a position that already sees him on the brink of both financial and mental breaking point.

The man in question – let’s call him John – is 48 years old and has been working in the demolition industry for 29 years. He has worked for reputable and well-respected companies such as McGee and 777 Demolition, rising through the ranks to become a qualified Demolition Supervisor. He is married with five children and has a mortgage.

He sat the Demolition Supervisor course some three years ago, finishing second in his class. But he now has until March to stump up £1,750 to take his NVQ Level 3; a largely meaningless exercise that merely produces a piece of paper that says a man can do the very thing he’s been doing his entire working life.

And that is where the vicious circle that has led John to the brink begins.

For a number of years, there has been an increasing use of agency labour as demolition companies seek to relieve themselves of the various burdens of employment and just pick up staff when they need them, and put them down when they don’t. John is just one of those many workers rendered expendable by this trend. His work currently is, at best, sporadic. And NVQs require the individual to be monitored carrying out specific tasks. So, even if he could afford to pay just under £2,000 to prove what all his peers and former employers could verify, he doesn’t currently have sufficient continual work to allow an adjudicator to actually monitor him.

There’s a lot to unpack here; so let’s take things one at a time.

The very fact that I felt it necessary to retain John’s anonymity for fear of reprisals and recriminations should itself set alarm bells ringing. No working man, nor someone helping him, should be afraid to voice his concerns.

The UK demolition industry speaks regularly about a skills shortage, and yet here is a man that might be forced to leave not just the industry but the country itself because the training and qualification system has been skewed against him. Not only will the industry lose a qualified and valuable demolition worker, it is in danger of losing all the knowledge and experience he has accumulated and that he can impart to those around him; all because the demolition training regime has become a way to generate vast revenues rather than a way to ensure that men and women are safe on site.

The UK demolition industry has recently leapt aboard the mental health awareness bandwagon. But through its own actions and inactions, it has driven a working man (and I certainly do not believe John’s case is unique) into a depressive state that is now being exacerbated by rapidly worsening financial worries and escalating debts.

The majority of UK demolition companies pay a levy to the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB). If John was employed by one of those companies, that company would pay for the NVQ, recouping a large proportion of the cost of his NVQ in the form of a grant. However, as a private individual, John does not have that privilege. Instead, he will have to find the £1,750 out of his own pocket, and he will not get any of it back. The bitter irony is that many demolition and construction companies do not even bother to reclaim the grant funding owed to them.
And then, of course, there is the rise and rise of the employment agencies that effectively earn their living through the labour of others; taking a cut of their daily wages while workers’ rights are slowly but inexorably eroded on their watch.

When I spoke to him on the phone, John sounded downtrodden, sad and fearful. He was also angry. Angry that the industry to which he has devoted his life has seemingly cast him aside through no fault of his own; and angry at the National Federation of Demolition Contractors (NFDC) and National Demolition Training Group (NDTG) for their role in his current predicament.

He is right to be angry. I would be angry too if I couldn’t afford to feed my children; if I was falling behind on my mortgage payments despite being ready, able and eager to work; and if three decades of accumulated knowledge and experience had been dismissed by the sweep of a bureaucrat’s pen.

But John is only partly right in the aim of his anger. In this instance, the NFDC’s greatest failing is the fact that it has allowed this tick-box training regime and the resulting “NVQ Poverty” to be foist upon the UK demolition industry by external forces with little or no understanding of the demolition process. To its eternal shame, the greatest failing of the NDTG is that it has chosen to profit from these circumstances and then to sit on those vast proceeds (estimated to be in excess of £1.0 million) while people like John and his family potentially go hungry. The founders of the National Demolition Training Group would likely turn in their graves at the way in which their vision of a way to protect and upskill demolition workers is now being used to actively discriminate against them.

However, the real blame for this situation lies with organisations like Build UK that insists upon pieces of paper to prove that which is patently obvious; and the Construction Industry Training Board, a barely fit-for-purpose organisation whose own existence is regularly called into question and which many believe to be directly responsible for the current and ongoing skills shortage.

Blame, regardless of the direction in which it is aimed, does not help John. It doesn’t get him back to work. It doesn’t get him a piece of paper that proves what we already know about his capabilities. It doesn’t put food on his family’s table, it doesn’t help pay his mortgage, and it doesn’t halt his spiralling debts. But currently, blame is pretty much the only weapon at his disposal as he fights alone. Sadly, the term “no man left behind” apparently does not apply in demolition circles.

I will leave you with three thoughts.

Firstly, I do not need a piece of paper to tell me or anyone else that I am a journalist. I do, therefore I am. There is no organisation that can take that away from me or that requires me to pay to prove that I can do the very thing that has kept a roof over my family’s head for the past 30+ years. Why should John’s situation any different?

Secondly, yes, I could start a crowdfunding programme to help raise the £1,750 that John requires; and I would be more than happy to do so if there is sufficient support out there. But, the fact is, neither I nor we should have to. Surely the very purpose of industry training is to help people up, not to force them out? Maybe the NDTG might like to consider offering interest-free loans to those caught in the NVQ Poverty trap; paid back via direct debit at an affordable £10 per week and with the card being suspended in the event of non-payment.

Finally, I am writing this on the day that the London & Southern Counties Region of the NFDC is gathering at a swanky London hotel for its annual luncheon; an event at which most (if not all) tables are sponsored. The sponsorship of a single table would be more than enough to pay for John’s NVQ Level 3.

And if that doesn’t make you question the industry’s priorities, then nothing will.