Button’s CMA fears…

NFDC CEO “very worried” about potential impact of collusion investigation.

National Federation of Demolition Contractors CEO Howard Button has admitted that he is “very worried” about the possible impact of the ongoing Competition & Markets Authority investigation into possible collusion within the UK demolition industry.

Speaking exclusively to DemolitionNews, Button says the investigation could “jeopardise the whole Federation and the whole industry,” he confides. “I am dreading it.”

Asked if a successful prosecution of an NFDC member over financial impropriety could see a company kicked out of the Federation, Button says that this remains a possibility. “In our history, we have banned only one or two companies that I can remember, but never for anything like this,” he continues. “This is not even in our current rules and articles of association. It is a learning curve for us.”

Amidst rumours that the companies of some NFDC officers are among those under the CMA microscope, Button says that could have “serious implications”. “We may have to take it to a members’ vote,” he says. “This is such unprecedented ground that I genuinely don’t know.”

With the Competition & Markets Authority refusing to clarify just who is currently under investigation, Button and the NFDC officers are having to work on the basis of hypothetical outcomes.
But Button is under no illusions of the potential damage that a successful prosecution of as many as six NFDC members might have. “It would look very bad,” he admits. “I don’t think it would break us but it would put us on very dodgy ground.”

Ferrybridge sentinels downed

More colling towers blasted during weekend implosion.

Demolition at Ferrybridge C Power Station in West Yorkshire has begun in what’s been described as a “significant milestone” in UK energy.

The demolition of the towers, which stood at 114 metres high, took around 10 seconds.

The West Yorkshire power station provided the UK with energy for 50 years, before its owners, SSE, closed the plant in March 2016, believing it to have no longer been economical.

Thought for the day…

Mates in Mind calls on industry to improve workplace mental health.

A recent survey conducted by UK Construction Week, with support from Mates in Mind charity, has found that six out of 10 workers in construction have suffered mental ill-health because of their work. Mates in Mind is now calling on industry leaders and government to be more considered and consistent if they want to achieve meaningful improvement within the workplace.

This has never been more important in the fight to address the high rate of suicide within the UK construction industry. Construction is a sector in which the impacts of mental ill-health and suicide are particularly prominent, with alarming reports showing that within the industry, two workers take their own life every working day.

Thursday 10 October is World Mental Health Day, an internationally recognised day in which organisations and individuals come together to break the silence surrounding mental ill-health.

This year’s theme focuses on suicide prevention. According to The Office of National Statistics, in 2018 there was a rise in the number of deaths by suicide with 6,507 recorded – the highest level since 2002.

“We are deeply concerned to see a rise in this figure, despite the attention that has been given to suicide prevention and increased awareness of mental health in recent years. The work that Mates in Mind is doing to further raise awareness, address the stigma and improve mental wellbeing throughout workplaces across construction and associated industries, continues unabated. And over the last three years, this interest hasn’t dropped off, in fact just the opposite,” says James Rudoni, managing director, Mates in Mind. “A significant part of the work that we do is to provide real understanding and clarity around the issue of mental health. Signposting and supporting organisations to deliver the right support for their workforce. It is vital that organisations realise that this requires them to listen, encourage and support employees, rather than simply running short-term awareness campaign or one-off training. We are seeing the evidence from an increasing number of our Supporter organisations that taking a ‘whole organisation’ approach is having both quantifiable and qualitative impact. Amongst the benefits we are witnessing are improved sickness absence rates, improved staff retention rates and more engaged workforces.”

For example, in the last two years, Tideway has reported a twelve per cent rise in the number of staff who felt that they could approach their boss with a mental health problem – up from 64% in 2017 to 76% in 2018. A similar increase was reported in RSE Building Services, an SME firm, where they reported a nine per cent rise in staff feeling supported in relation to mental health – up from 66% in 2018 to 75% in 2019.

“It is important to create space to talk about mental health at work, and through improved awareness, increase individual’s understandings of how and where they can get support. That is why we are so pleased to be a partner supporting Public Health England’s campaign Every Mind Matters – enabling individuals to understand and better manage their own mental health.

But the fact remains, employers, must do more to ensure that the environments in which their workers are operating are improved to sustain an individual’s mental wellbeing, and in turn their businesses overall.”

Brayton Point blaze…

“…fires can be a common occurrence during demolitions..”

Fire crews are tackling a blaze at the former Brayton Point power plant in Massachusetts which was the subject of a controlled implosion back in April of this year.

According to local TV news stations, this is actually the fourth such blaze to occur at the site which is still undergoing demolition.

Divide & Conquer…

CDI splits paper mill stacks in text book blast.

Controlled Demolition, Inc (CDI), acting as explosives subcontractor to main demolition contractor, Envirocon, has carried out the explosive felling of a pair of two 70 metre tall brick chimneys in Milford, New Jersey.

RAIDED!

Demolition company HQ raided as anti-collusion net tightens.

Officers from the Competition & Markets Authority are understood to have intensified their probe into the demolition industry with another contractor raid this week.

Industry news portal The Construction Enquirer is reporting that CMA officials raided the offices of a leading demolition specialist.

An industry source said: “The officers locked-down every computer in the head office. Everyone in the office was ordered to freeze and not touch their computers while the entire server and IT system was downloaded by the authority.”

Six demolition contractors are understood to have come under the spotlight of the CMA since it launched a probe into possible collusion in the supply of construction services in Britain in March.

The CMA was originally hoping to make an announcement on the progress of the investigation by the end of September but that deadline has now been extended.

Read more here.

Dykon paves the way

Weekend implosion clears path for new Invesco HQ.

Work on the future home of Invesco’s headquarters started this weekend — with a bang.

A five-storey building, originally developed more than 60 years ago, was imploded to make room for the new 26-storey tower that Atlanta-based Invesco Ltd will occupy.

The demolition of 1330 West Peachtree was a “key milestone” in preparation for the first phase of Midtown Union, the development team said. The Midtown Union project is expected to be completed in 2022.

Blast fells French tower block…

Six seconds to drop 16 storeys.

Just after lunchtime on Sunday, demolition crews carried out the controlled explosive demolition of the Albret tower which stood in the Beauval district, in Meaux, France.

Within seconds, the block – which comprised 169 apartments spread over 16 floors in three wings – was gone in the latest phase of the urban renewal programme in Meaux. This is the 16th demolition of this type since 1990.

Rampage!

Digger driver goes on destructive rampage.

CCTV has captured the moment an excavator operator ran amok in a company yard, attacking first a car and then a lorry.

Reports suggest that the incident took place at the yard of UK demolition contractor Thomas Crompton Demolition of Bradford although this is unconfirmed at this time:

Danish cartel laid bare…

Three companies accept penalties in ongoing cartel case.

In what is yet another development in the multiple cases about cartels in the demolition industry, three demolition companies have accepted penalties totalling DKK 6.4 million (approx £760,000). Also, three senior employees of two of the companies have agreed to be fined DKK 125,000 (approx £15,000) each for their part in the infringements.

The competition authorities learned about the cartels in the demolition industry in 2015. The authorities found that companies in the industry had engaged in bid rigging and illegal exchange of prices in the period from May 2011 to October 2013. Judgments have already been delivered in some of the cases.

In the latest cases. all three companies all accepted the penalty notices presented by the Danish State Prosecutor for Serious Economic and International Crime: G. Tscherning A/S accepted a penalty of DKK 5.9 million (approx £703,000)for having, from April 2012 to August 2013, illegally exchanged price information with competitors on 12 occasions. Villy C. Petersen Entreprise A/S accepted a penalty of DKK 400,000 (approx £48,000) for having similarly, from January 2012 to August 2013, illegally exchanged price information with competitors on four occasions. Likewise, Brandis A/S accepted a penalty of DKK 100,000 (approx £12,000) for having, from June 2012 to October 2013, illegally exchanged price information with competitors.

The investigations and prosecutions in Denmark have parallels here in the UK where it is thought that as many as six demolition companies are under investigation by the Competition & Markets Authority. However, based upon charges brought in other sectors of the UK construction industry, the penalties in the UK are likely to be far stiffer than in Denmark whould any of the companies be found guilty.

Several directors have been struck off for as much as seven years, while the fine handed down to five fit-out firms prosecuted for cover pricing amounted to around £7.0 million.

Read more here.