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Grenfell triggers call for health and safety “sea change”…

UK Government urged to end health and safety deregulation following Grenfell Tower blaze

The UK Government has been urged to scrap its approach to deregulation of health and safety legislation in the light of the Grenfell Tower blaze.

In an open letter to Prime Minister Theresa May, over 70 leading organisations and figures from the UK’s safety and health profession have jointly called for a political sea change in attitude towards health and safety regulation and fire risk management following the tragedy.

The collective has also pressed the Government to complete its review of Part B of the Building Regulations 2010 – the regulations which cover fire safety within and around buildings in England – as a matter of urgency, and to include a focus on improved safety in the forthcoming Parliament.

The letter is signed by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), Park Health & Safety, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) and the British Safety Council.

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA), International Institute of Risk & Safety Management (IIRSM), National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH), Trades Union Congress (TUC) and Unite the union have also given it their backing, alongside senior health and safety professionals.

“We believe it is totally unacceptable for residents, members of the public and our emergency services to be exposed to this level of preventable risk in modern-day Britain,” the letter states.

“At this crucial time of national reflection and sorrow, we urge all politicians to re-emphasise the need for effective health and safety regulation and competent fire risk management. These are fundamental to saving lives and sustaining our communities.

“We believe it is vital that this disaster marks a turning point for improved fire safety awareness and wider appreciation that good health and safety is an investment, not a cost.”

In calling on the UK Government to complete its review of Part B of The Building Regulations 2010, the signatories add: “Together, we offer our organisations’ support in undertaking the review – we all have valuable links to experts in this area who can advise on best regulatory outcomes. In the meantime, we welcome the Government’s commitment to act and to implement the interim findings of the forthcoming public inquiry.

“You have it in your power to remove immediately a further risk to people at work and outside of the workplace – unwise deregulation – which threatens public and worker safety.

“We, leaders in health and safety in the UK, call on you to scrap the Government’s approach to health and safety deregulation and think again.”

The open letter, in full, is as follows:

Dear Prime Minister,

There have, understandably, been strong public reactions to the terrible fire at Grenfell Tower and its tragic consequences – the largest civilian loss of life from a single event in the UK since the Hillsborough disaster.

The occupational safety and health community is deeply saddened and disturbed by the Grenfell Tower fire and all the lives it claimed. We believe it is totally unacceptable for residents, members of the public and our emergency services to be exposed to this level of preventable risk in modern-day Britain.

Central Government and the Kensington and Chelsea local authority share responsibility for building standards and their enforcement locally, as well as for the funding and management of the maintenance of social housing. These responsibilities must be backed up with good, essential regulations.

However, for many years, Ministers and others with influence over them have called for, including in health and safety, regulations to be axed as a matter of principle. Arbitrary rules were imposed to establish deregulation of health and safety, such as a requirement to abolish two health and safety regulations (and more recently, three) for any new one adopted.

This mind-set has meant that, even when it was recommended and accepted that mandatory fitting of sprinklers would make homes or schools safer, this was rejected in favour of non-regulatory action. In practice, this approach favours inaction.

Good, well-evidenced and proportionate regulations in health and safety, based on full consultation, are developed and adopted because they save lives and protect people’s health and wellbeing. They are not “burdens on business” but provide essential protection for the public from identifiable risks.

At this crucial time of national reflection and sorrow, we urge all politicians to re-emphasise the need for effective health and safety regulation and competent fire risk management. These are fundamental to saving lives and sustaining our communities.

We believe it is vital that this disaster marks a turning point for improved fire safety awareness and wider appreciation that good health and safety is an investment, not a cost.

We call on the Government to accelerate and confirm the timeframe for completing its review of Part B of The Building Regulations 2010 and to include a focus on improved safety in the forthcoming Parliament.

Together, we offer our organisations’ support in undertaking the review – we all have valuable links to experts in this area who can advise on best regulatory outcomes. In the meantime, we welcome the Government’s commitment to act and to implement the interim findings of the forthcoming public inquiry.

You have it in your power to remove immediately a further risk to people at work and outside of the workplace – unwise deregulation – which threatens public and worker safety.

We, leaders in health and safety in the UK, call on you to scrap the Government’s approach to health and safety deregulation and think again. This could be announced immediately, it does not need to await the results of a public inquiry, and is the least that the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire deserve.

Comment – The pernicious problem of “value engineering”…

Grenfell Tower disaster highlights the issue of value engineering in demolition circles.

Over the past few weeks – and whilst wearing my Diggers and Dozers hat – I have posted a couple of “rant” style videos in which I bemoan one form of industry injustice or another (you can see them here if you’re that way inclined).

These have proved incredibly popular, particularly on Facebook where my pro-JCB rant has racked up almost 30,000 views and is still climbing.

Based on those figures, and since I have another bee in my journalistic bonnet, I thought it was about tie that we trialled this kind of film here on DemolitionNews.

And the target of my bile and vitriol is value engineering which – surely – is just a fancy term for the cost and corner cutting that is imposed upon demolition and construction companies before and even after they have bid successfully on a tender.

We hope you like this format and that this won’t be the last subject to fall under myy steely gaze:

Mick George donation station for tower victims…

Demolition contractor leaps to aid of those impacted by Grenfell Towers fire.

IMG_4323Following the unfortunate events in North Kensington yesterday, an appeal led by Heart radio has seen Cambridge businesses unite in support, requesting donations of items to those left stranded following the Grenfell Tower Fire.

Residents in the 24-storey Grenfell Tower were evacuated from their flats in the burning building in the early hours of the morning, and with smoke still bellowing out of the structure, many residents were forced to sleep in makeshift shelters last night.

At least 70 people have been confirmed to have been taken to five hospitals in London for treatment, with many more expected to be announced in the near future.

The tragedy has left hundreds of people without their possessions, food and drink. A number of locations have been set up throughout the county for you to offer your assistance. The early support has been magnificent, with numerous Mick George vehicles already full and ready for distribution to the Grenfell site.

Donations of the following items would be much appreciated:

– Blankets
– Clothes
– Toys
– Toiletrees and Nappies
– Other basic necessities

If you would like to help, you can drop off at the following nearby locations:

Mick George Ltd
8am-2pm (Thursday 15th June)
6 Lancaster Way, Ermine Business Park, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, PE29 6XU

Better Removals and Storage
6.15am-12pm (Thursday 15th June)
Flint Park, Barley Road, Royston, SG8 7PU

Murketts
8am-2pm (Thursday 15th June)
137 Histon Road, Cambridge, CB4 3JD

The Cresset
8am-2pm (Thursday 15th June)
Rightwell, Bretton, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, PPE3 8DX

A champion in the making…?

Who fancies a night of boxing in the greatest city in the world?

seanDownwell Demolition’s Matt Phillips is fit. The man runs marathons like an African and is – as the expression goes – as lean as a butcher’s dog.

But by comparison to his son Sean, Matt is a slouch and a layabout. Because Sean is about to make his professional boxing debut on the undercard of a world title fight featuring world class middleweight Billy Joe Saunders.

The event will take place at the Copper Box Arena in London on 8 July 2017. This is an ideal opportunity for the industry to get together to support a possible future champion; and to hang out with fellow demolition folk and aficionados of the noble art.

Tickets are available through Sean Phillips own website – Click here for details.

DemolitionNews is hoping to be there (assuming we can move a prior engagement) – We’d love to see you there to cheer on one of our own…in every sense of the word.

Comment – Nothing can prepare demolition workers for this…

Like many of my fellow countrymen, I awoke this morning to the tragic and terrible news of the fire that engulfed and seemingly destroyed the Grenfell Tower residential block in West London. It is too early to speculate, but news sources suggest there have been multiple fatalities.

It is trite but, having grown up in a tower block myself, I can only imagine the horror of being trapped in a high rise block while it is ablaze. My thoughts go out to all those affected.

My thoughts go out also to any demolition workers that might ultimately find themselves working to make this block safe or – more likely – to demolish it entirely. Initial news reports suggest that there are fears the block might collapse. If that is the case, then demolition crews are likely to be required to attend.

The emergency services are trained to handle disasters and loss of life on this scale. Whilst I have nothing but admiration for those working in the fire and ambulance service, I would imagine that they develop a degree of immunity to such tragedies; that over the course of months and years and multiple accidents and incidents, they learn to cope with the horrors such events present.

Demolition workers have no such protection. Most will – thankfully – work their entire careers without ever encountering a scene like that of Grenfell Tower. Most will never have to work where men, women and children have perished. Most will never have to carry out work that constitutes a form of desecration, constantly in fear and dread of uncovering the undiscovered body of an unfortunate victim.

But some will. And those that do will do so without the cloak of immunity built up by the emergency services. They will do so without specific training on the tragedy of what they might encounter. And they will do so – often – with no form of counselling and support in the aftermath of what must surely be the worst aspect of the demolition trade.

In the event of a disaster such as that at Grenfell Tower, no-one is better equipped to deal with the aftermath than the demolition industry. The industry has the expertise to deal with unstable buildings and structures. It has the equipment required to do so delicately and safely. And it has men and women brave enough to work where others fear to tread.

But it is important that we are mindful of the potential impact that working in such an environment might have on those demolition workers. They are prepared to work anywhere and at any time. But nothing can prepare them for a tragedy such as this.

RVA appoints new Ops Manager

Decommissioning consultancy strengthens leadership team ahead of further growth.

NickRVA Group has appointed Nick Clark as Operations Manager. With a wealth of experience working in high hazard environments, he joins this organisation following 15 years’ management in the offshore and onshore oil sector.
 
Proficiently skilled in the running, maintenance, and decommissioning of multifaceted plants, Nick will play a key role in the increasingly complex projects that RVA is consistently securing. He is a chartered member of IOSH, with a vast portfolio of EHS, CDM, asbestos management and quality assurance training, and has helped to form and develop a number of multi-skilled teams in his previous roles.
 
Nick’s appointment coincides with RVA’s 25th year in business. During this time, the company has completed over 700 complex, high-hazard and large-scale decommissioning, dismantling and demolition projects in the petrochemical, chemical, power generation, oil, gas and pharmaceutical sectors.  In addition to providing support for the physical removal of process plants, RVA is also being increasingly called upon to develop detailed strategic medium and long-term redundant asset management plans.
 
But the company does not rest on its laurels, comments founder and Managing Director Richard Vann: “We have an enviable – yet justifiable – reputation in this niche field, and to mark 25 successful years in business is a testament to the hard work of everyone within our 15-strong team.
 
“However, we’re here to build an RVA fit for the future too. So, as we prepare for the next 25 years in business, we need to continuously bring in fresh, dynamic talent that will enable us to push new boundaries as industry challenges evolve. Nick is one of five members of a new leadership structure, which will take us confidently into the next decade and beyond.”

Operator killed on Indian site…

Young worker crushed beneath excavator as it falls into unseen basement.

The demolition of the fire-ravaged Chennai Silks building on Usman Road in Thyagaraya Nagar was suspended on Saturday after a 22-year-old operator of an excavator died in an accident at the site.

One of the two excavators that were involved in the demolition work developed an oil leakage. An operator – G. Sarathkumar – came out of his cab and was checking the machine when suddenly the earth under the machine caved in to a depth of 10 feet. Realising the danger he was in, Sarathkumar started to run, but the boom of the excavator crashed down upon him.

“Using an earth-mover, we pulled out the jaw-cutter from the pit and removed Mr. Sarathkumar who had been caught under,” said G. Selvakumar, fire officer at T.Nagar,

Read more here.

chennai

World Exclusive – The Dawning of The Destroyer…

Brown and Mason’s new monster machine gets ready for work.

The latest addition to the fleet of power station demolition specialist Brown and Mason is undergoing final preparations at the Messiah Corp. yard at Grays in Essex. And DemolitionNews got to see it first.

Weighing in at 135 tonnes and equipped with a massive Genesis GXP1500R attachment, the Hitachi EX1200 machine is being readied for a three-month stint at Didcot A Power Station before heading for the Longannet Power Station in Kincardine, Scotland where Brown and Mason has a four-year demolition project.

“With the help of Messiah, we bought the machine from a company in Spain and had it shipped back to Grays,” Brown and Mason’s Nick Brown explains. “Messiah also helped us source the Genesis shear and they have helped us get the machine ready for work.”

The shear alone weighs more than 13 tonnes and has a jaw opening of 1.118 metres. When it goes to work, it will be one of the largest of its kind in the UK.

We will be bringing you more details in the next episode of Demolition TV. But, until then, you can see this massive machine in this exclusive new video:

Video – Spectacular offshore demolition…

Barslund takes to the water.

Danish contractor Barslund A/S has carried out the offshore demolition of the base of a former wind turbine.

And the company has captured the action in this stunning 4K video:

Silver bullet for Silverdome…

Adamo opts for high reach approach to stadium demolition.

As contractors in Georgia prepare to take down the famous Georgia Dome using a controlled explosion, the end of Detroit’s Pontiac Silverdome will begin shortly in less dramatic fashion.

Richard Adamo, president of Detroit-based contractor Adamo Group, said Friday that his demolition crews hope to start tackling the empty sports venue within 45 days. The firm is under private contract with the Silverdome’s owner, Triple Investment Group, and has applied for a demolition permit from the City of Pontiac.

Adam said he is just waiting for utility companies to disconnect all electricity, gas and water from the 127-acre site before the permit can be issued.

“Within 45 days, there should be some significant demolition activity going on,” Adamo said in a phone interview. The entire process — including filling and grating the hole —should take about a year.

The demolition will be done with hydraulic excavators and accomplished in sections. “I don’t really see any reason to implode at this time,” he said.

Read more here.

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