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Women Needed To Stop Construction Crisis

A construction specialist believes the taboo against women in the industry is leading to a massive gap in the market.

As workloads are rising faster than the worker pool, a huge skill shortage could be on the horizon, with the current situation only looking to get worse through 2017, according to specialist One Way.

“There’s still far too few people operating within and, crucially, entering the field,” said One Way’s managing director and co-founder, Paul Payne.

Getting more women into construction this year could be a game changer, with One Way launching their own initiative, #GirlsAllowed, explaining “more programmes like this are drastically needed.”

Construction contributes an estimated 6% of the economy, so seeing a longer term solution is becoming a growing concern that isn’t looking to stop in 2017, especially as the demand for experienced roles like planners, estimators and project managers becomes greater.

The demand could grow even more than anticipated, as research suggests projects resuming after delays caused by the Brexit vote will lead to a further surge.

“As investors shake off their Brexit fears, something is going to have to change fast,” explained Mr Payne, “these are skilled positions that require a considerable amount of training and experience so they can’t just be recruited off the street and placed in roles.”

Ireland work fatalities drop by nearly a quarter in 2016

Fatalities in the Irish workplace have reduced by 21% in the last year compared to 2015, according to figures by the Health and Safety Authority.

Many work sectors saw a large drop in deaths within 2016, while agriculture saw a rise of 21 from 18 in 2015.

The fatalities marked the lowest rate since 2009, a number that was reluctantly welcomed by analysts.

“It is especially important that as the numbers at work increase, accident rates are moving in the opposite direction,” said Martin O’Halloran, Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Authority, “nevertheless we must not forget the many families that experienced devastation and tragedy in 2016. It was a time when they lost loved ones due to events that should have been prevented.”

Of the deaths, 88% were men aged 25+, nine men over the age of 65 killed in the agriculture sector, and 45% of all deaths involved vehicles.

“It is clear that there is a systemic problem with safety on our farms,” continued Mr O’Halloran, as the agriculture sector continues to hold the highest recorded fatalities year on year, Our farm safety walks and knowledge transfer groups are designed to effect long-term behavioural change and it is only through this type of transformation that we will see a significant reduction in farm deaths.”

Imtech Inviron in blockbuster contract with BFI

Imtech Inviron have announced a three year deal with the British Film Institute (BFI).

The major project involves full time mobile engineering, helpdesks, energy solutions and further services across BFI’s five UK sites.

The meticulous planning and organising involves covering film premier events, as well as protecting the Master Film Store, a £12 million Warwickshire archive securing highly sensitive film reels dating back to the birth of film.

The almost half a million make up the world’s largest collection of moving image and film, which consists of cellulose nitrate, an incredibly flammable material that requires specially trained HVAC engineers.

“We are delighted,” said Duncan McKeich, BFI’s head of facilities, “The team have a great attitude and knowledge of all our sites, which is vital.”

“Their technical expertise and experience in this sector has ensured the smooth operation of our portfolio and through new initiatives, the partnership continues to evolve.”

The continued upkeep of the Master Film Store, according to McKeich, ensures “preserving the National Collection for future generations.”

One Event Management acquires Absolute Taste

One Event Management has acquired Lyndy Redding and McLaren Technology Group’s award-winning event design company Absolute Taste. As part of the acquisition, One Event Management’s premium catering brand Mecco and Absolute Taste will rebrand to form Europe’s foremost luxuxry event design company.

Both businesses will operate as Absolute Taste across a broad spectrum of hospitality services and concepts, including the existing portfolio of restaurants and cafés, private jet catering, bespoke events, fixed site contracts and performance sports hospitality, as well as live events and high-profile occasions.

Neil MacLaurin, Chairman of One Event Management said: “We couldn’t be more pleased that Lyndy and her team will be joining forces with One Event Management. Absolute Taste marks the best of the best in food design and hospitality, and is a fantastic fit as we strive to reach the pinnacle in food, drink and customer entertaining. We’re busy planning this year’s events and our new team is sure to knock creativity out of the park and create some phenomenal customer experiences.”

Lyndy Redding, Founder and Managing Director of Absolute Taste added: “I love Absolute Taste. It’s my life and the people who work for us are my family, therefore this is such an exciting opportunity as it widens our scope and brings us a raft of fabulous new events to work on and extraordinary people to work with. Being part of the McLaren Technology Group for 20 years has been amazing; we will always have their DNA in the business and we look forward to continuing working with McLaren both in F1 and at the McLaren Technology Centre. This new chapter will see us working with like-minded individuals who all share our unique attention to detail and unrivalled levels of service.”

Industry Spotlight: Advice and tips on attracting future engineers…

Doug Anderson, sales and marketing manager at Guttridge, discusses the importance of attracting future engineers and offers a few top tips along the way.

As a company, it’s important to not only chase the next customer, but also chase the next employee. The engineering sector should constantly attract new talent and actively encourage more females into what has traditionally been a male-dominated environment. It’s vital that future engineers should be motivated and passionate at the earliest stage in their professional development…

Why work in engineering?

The engineering sector is regarded as a cornerstone of the UK’s economic progression. In the future, engineers will be charged with producing cutting-edge technology and building structures that will help the UK tackle any renewable energy issues. To achieve this, there needs to be as many people entering the industry as possible. Organisations must remove any existing preconceptions and make engineering an attractive career path for all young people, by taking actions to promote and encourage working in the industry. How do we do this? Well here are four tactics to help secure the future engineering talent.

Generate interest early

Firstly, it’s vital to ensure that children and students of all ages, male and female, are informed about engineering. There are many different disciplines within the sector, offering different opportunities. Young students who are passionate about engineering and keen to enter the industry should have the opportunity to make informed educational decisions in order to realise their ambition.

The education sector and schools are improving increasing awareness in the sector, by using dynamic teaching methods to help bring science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) to life. Attracting girls to the industry is a huge priority as they are still scarce in the engineering profession despite the career opportunities it offers.

As well as emphasising the importance of STEM to students, male and female, it is just as important that teachers and parents are aware of the importance and benefits that working in engineering can bring.

Earning and learning

In the past, engineering companies tend to lack an on-campus presence at schools, colleges and universities which hasn’t helped graduate intake into the sector. However, in recent years the visibility in terms of career potential are now in front of young talent.

The cost of attending university deters many young people, so it’s crucial to make them aware of the existence of other routes to a successful and rewarding career. Apprenticeships and internships offer an opportunity to learn whilst earning a wage, and can become a huge step to further education later in life. In-house training is offered alongside fully funded qualifications to help employees enhance their formal education. Organisations need to provide these development opportunities to help attract engineers from a wider range of social backgrounds. Learning on the job can produce more well-rounded employees – as it requires hard work and dedication.

Removing industry preconceptions

In the past engineering has been perceived as a male-oriented industry, and the lack of female engineers in the UK suggests that very little has changed. Given the diversity roles within the sector, there is absolutely no justification for this.

Perhaps as an industry we need to effectively relay the message that a career in engineering offers a wealth of opportunities that actually take place in very modern and high-tech environments, as opposed to grubby ones.

Wealth of opportunity

The scale of opportunity that engineering can provide for entry level students is superb. Engineering is an exciting career field to be involved in, and new opportunities are always available for qualified engineers. It is a flourishing and fast growing sector, not to mention engineering graduates earn some of the best salaries in the country.

Many engineering businesses have offices overseas, so there are also opportunities for graduates to travel abroad, especially to the MENA area.

When it comes to interviews and the selection process, recruitment of new staff in the engineering sector needs to be based on talent alone, rather than gender or any other arbitrary factor. The more that a company builds its female workforce, the more women will be attracted to fill positions in the industry, and the industry will thrive.

It is therefore up to those currently involved in the engineering sector, to spread the word and improve the appreciation of a career which knows no bounds, and continue to do what we can for our future engineers.

At Guttridge we encourage the STEM subjects by working with The Imagineering Foundation to introduce school children to the fascinating world of engineering and technology. We are seeing extremely encouraging results with our local school and are working hard to ensure the children are inspired to consider a career in engineering.

Access the original article here


‘Modern’ safety and health challenges studied in new book…

A new book based on research funded by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has investigated the changing context of health and safety policy and
‘modern’ concerns emerging in the OSH sector.

The chartered body commissioned studies over a five-year period by teams from: the
Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM), Cranfield University, Loughborough University, and the universities of Reading, Portsmouth and Nottingham to create Health and Safety in a Changing World (2017, Routledge).

Shelley Frost, executive director of Policy at IOSH and co-editor of the book alongside professor Robert Dingwall, said:OSH is steeped in a colourful history, shaped by public perception and hugely dynamic.  This book explores those facets and provides a perspective on how the OSH professional can respond to the changing needs and expectations of the world of work.

“There are real opportunities explored on how those driving forward OSH agendas can position themselves to influence and shape the future.”

Considered to be one of the most ambitious research projects undertaken about the ways people are protected from injury and ill health in the workplace, were published in October 2016 and can be found here.

To find out more about the book, click here

Guest Blog, Cathy Hayward: FM in 2016 – what we’ve learnt and 2017 predictions…

The end of a calendar year provides the perfect opportunity for lines to be drawn, and predictions forecast. And while 2016 will largely be remembered for the number of famous lives it took, the surprise Brexit decision and election of Donald Trump, there were also more positive developments in the FM and workplace sector.

This year saw the word wellbeing become part of the workplace lexicon and that’s only going to intensify in 2017. Workplace design will focus on creating less sedentary work practices, says Adrian Powell, director at office design and build firm Active, through encouraging movement around the office space. “Companies recognise this will lower absenteeism and help to attract talent. Employees are certainly more educated now about healthy living and have become much more health conscious. Companies also realise that workplace stress is a massive health issue, so designing and creating a healthier and more relaxed environment will create true benefit.”

Powell predicts a real emphasis on ‘teams’, continuing the theme of collaboration spaces which took centre stage in 2016. “Employers are beginning to recognise that companies structured into high performing teams are enabling themselves to compete and win! This will be pushed for by millennials and gen Z workers who have grown up playing team sports, who may have the same expectations of their office.”

With a growing millennial workplace population, technological innovations will continue to make a major impact on the FM world. There will be more connection, more automation, and more significant impact in business and investment than ever before. “Service companies will need to be more technology savvy in the delivery of services and production of management information, as technology is shaping the human life at a rapid pace and service delivery needs to keep a pace with that ‘instant’ culture,” says Glen Cardinal, managing director of Platinum Facilities and Maintenance Services.  But he acknowledges that there’s a balance to be had with old fashion face-to-face customer relationships.

The Internet of Things which started being talked about in 2016 will become more affordable and be used by leading organisations to support enhanced workplace experiences. That’s the prediction of Andrew Mawson, founder and MD of Advanced Workplace Associates. And it’s backed up by Andrew Sugars, director of corporate development at Servest Group. “Data analytics and IoT will be more entrenched in FM’s way of thinking, in terms of helping the decision making process of where to direct their focus. The move from service focused KPIs to enhancing customer experience metrics will be driven predominantly through apps, that are changing the way end users interact day to day with their work environment.”

2017 will yield even more integration of CAFM and other systems within a building, adds Gary Watkins, CEO of CAFM provider Service Works Group.  “Effective management of the facilities lifecycle is often cited as an enterprise’s second largest expense, and system integration will allow better access to information, with intelligent workflows automating processes for high efficiency.  We expect data across all applications to be standardised, driving the market forward in areas such as automated guided vehicles, increasing productivity and work place safety.” Watkins also forecasts increased mobility, the rise of ruggedised devices, more wearable technology, increased location-based services and bigger big data.

There will also be a fundamental shift in service delivery models. Traditional FM service delivery models are going to come under increased pressure following the uncertainty of the Brexit decision, the recent election of Donald Trump as US president, Government policies around the apprenticeship levy, the new minimum wage level and the pressure, in the public sector at least, to involve SMEs in the supply chain.

“We are going to see more innovation around FM models, particularly for organisations with large property portfolios,” says Colin Kenton, managing director, FM services at KBR. “The Integrator model, whereby one outsourced organisation offers the client a cohesive solution by integrating process, technology, reporting and performance measurement/management across all service providers in the supply chain, will gain ground,” he predicts. This matured and adapted version of the managing agent model provides the client with a stand-alone matrix of processes, resources, skills and knowledge to manage all of its services, which crucially, meet their specific needs. Its innate flexibility responds well in changing economic and political times.

There will be further consolidation in the FM supply base, as service providers become unprofitable after further cost cutting. That’s the prediction from AWA’s Andrew Mawson. “Meanwhile larger SMEs and more thoughtful occupiers will seek out boutique FM supply companies to provide more innovative partnership based ‘workplace management’ services.”

With all these changes, there will be a major push by companies to attract and retain the top talent in the industry, forecasts Dave Kentish from people development specialists Kentish and Co. “This means that they will have to invest in developing people within their business and making sure they get known for being the company to work for. It’s all about growing your own.”

That’s certainly something that Nikki Dallas, MD and founder of FM recruitment business Talent FM, agrees with. She forecasts a need for more project management and space management professionals once the timetable for Brexit is known and banks and other financial services firms decide if they’re leaving or staying in London.  There will also be a demand for UK qualified talent in the Middle East with Expo 2020 Dubai and the FIFA World Cup in Qatar in 2022. “These large events require an improvement in infrastructure which means more need for built environment and FM professionals,” she predicts.  

What’s clear is the ramifications of the big decisions of 2016 are going to be felt throughout next year and beyond, but the enthusiasm for the FM sector to innovate, grasp the nettle of new technology and new service delivery models will ensure it triumphs over any further adversity.


Cathy Hayward is a communications specialist with over 18 years’ experience in a range of journalistic and marketing roles. She founded Magenta in 2011 after 13 years as a business journalist where she launched FM World and edited Charity Finance as well as working on titles such as Financial Management, Supply Management, Unions Today, Marketing Week, Soccer Analyst and Director.

Guest Blog, Dave Bigham: Keeping the dust settled…

In 2014, the ice bucket challenge took social media by storm. The craze was a bid to raise awareness of neurological disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). One illness, however, that is still fairly unknown amongst the general public but affects up to 7,300 US construction workers every year is Silicosis, a respiratory condition caused by the inhalation of silica dust.

Silicon dioxide or silica is a chemical compound found in materials that are used regularly in construction, including sandstone, granite, brick and concrete. In the workplace, these materials create dust when they are cut, sanded and carved and, when fine enough, this dust can be inhaled by construction workers, causing health problems such as Silicosis or Bronchitis.

The quantity of silica contained in most materials can be estimated within 20 per cent. Sandstone has silica content between 70 and 90 per cent and there is between 30 and 45 per cent silicon dioxide in tiles. However, in concrete, the silica content can be anywhere between 25 and 70 per cent; therefore it is difficult to estimate what protection measures are necessary for each job.1

Using the correct dust collecting equipment is the easiest way to mitigate the dangers of silica dust. From grinding concrete to surface polishing, construction workers need to be aware that they will be creating silica dust, even if the particles are too small for the naked eye to see. Investing in a dust collector that attaches onto surface preparation equipment is the best way to keep silica dust enclosed and stop it from becoming airborne.

Vacuums and dust collectors with a one-filter system aren’t thorough enough to gather the finer particles that can pass through the respiratory system and cause health problems. When there is a risk of silica dust inhalation, look for a dust collector with an individually tested High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter and a high minimum efficiency. National Flooring Equipment’s range of dust collectors boasts a 99.995 per cent minimum efficiency rating at 0.14 microns.

The vacuum’s bagging system is also an extremely important component. If the silica dust becomes airborne when the user changes the vacuum bag, the work that the filters have done previously is wasted. Most top of the range dust collectors will come equipped with a continuous bag, which can be cut from the machine and disposed of without being unsealed.

In the United States, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has taken matters into its own hands by limiting construction workers’ exposure to silica. Over an eight-hour shift, workers cannot be exposed to more than 50 micrograms per cubic metre of air.2 This standard was passed on June 23, 2016 and construction companies in the US have one year to comply with the requirements

Despite the US pushing for stricter regulations, it’s a different story across the Atlantic. The United Kingdom’s regulatory body, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is said to be wary of implementing new controls because of their potential costs and the technical difficulties in monitoring a stricter standard. So far, there are no plans to set limits on the amount of silica that workers can be exposed to in Europe.

Contractors, original equipment manufacturers and trade bodies have to coordinate their efforts to mitigate the risks of silica dust by raising awareness about the dangers of breathing in small particles and by promoting best practice when working in environments with high silicone dioxide content.

Fun as it may be, an ice bucket challenge might not be the best way to spread awareness of the dangers of silica dust exposure. Instead, the industry needs to make workers aware of these dangers and use professional dust collectors correctly at all times.


  1. Health & Safety Executive, (2013) ‘Control of exposure to silica dust: A guide for employees’. [Online version] Available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg463.pdf [Accessed November 23, 2016].
  2. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, (2016) ‘Worker Exposure to Silica during Countertop Manufacturing, Finishing and Installation’. [Online] Available at: https://www.osha.gov/dts/hazardalerts/silica_hazard_alert.html [Accessed November 23, 2016].

Dave Bigham, director of National Accounts and Global Training has been in the surface preparation industry for more than 22 years. With experience working for several of the largest companies in the industry, he came to work for National Flooring Equipment in 2010, and his expertise and years of experience are invaluable to the company.

Industry Spotlight – ide Systems: Powering the future of business…

A major topic of discussion this year has been around the topic of digital strategy. The development of IT infrastructure has culminated in businesses being expected to uphold a comprehensive digital strategy. However, this drives a pressing need for an electrical power supply that is continuous and reliable.

It isn’t unusual to be constantly barraged with IT buzzwords like big data and cloud computing, concepts that they are told offer a wealth of benefits if adopted. These trends, in addition to a shifting business landscape through globalisation and outsourcing, have made it necessary for facilities managers to invest in the right infrastructure to support digitisation.

However, beyond the software and hardware, facilities managers often overlook the power being supplied to IT systems. While it’s important that businesses choose the right IT system, so too is ensuring that these systems continue to operate in the event of a power failure or an emergency.

For example, there was an incident in 2015 where one of Google’s data centres experienced a power failure. This down time was a result of transient voltages caused by lightning striking the local power grid in Belgium. Unfortunately, several disks worth of data remained inaccessible after the incident.

This highlights the need for two things: first, facilities managers should ensure that power equipment is protected against lightning strikes and, secondly, that a building’s power supply is connected to an effective changeover system that can keep systems running in the case of an emergency. If a company the size of Google can fall foul of power failure on such a scale, so too can smaller businesses.

Changeover power

How can facilities managers keep IT systems operational? An important step is to invest in a changeover system that meets the needs of the application. These are designed to facilitate a power supply shift from mains electricity to a backup generator with minimal disruption to service, so they come with a multitude of configurations available.

For example, ide Systems was recently approached by a large London-based business to design a 400A manual changeover panel to ensure reliable power to the building’s IT systems. To maximise its effectiveness, our engineers designed the panel with a lightning protection unit and, interestingly, a multifunctional power meter that included text message functionality.

A powerful feature for remote monitoring, the text functionality offers an additional level of reliability to the system. The power meter’s text message facility works on the incoming mains supply so that, in the event of a mains failure, facilities managers receive a text instructing them to switch the supply over. This gives peace of mind that important IT systems will not lose power.

Innovations such as this can only be designed into electrical equipment if facilities managers give due consideration to emergency systems. While it is easy to think of IT systems as the sole responsibility of IT managers and technicians, facilities managers have a key role in ensuring the ongoing power required to sustain an effective digital business strategy.


Words by Matt Collins, business development manager at ide Systems

ide Systems is an integrated electrical engineering company and a recognised name in the design and manufacture of permanent and temporary power distribution equipment for events and onsite backup power. The company is committed to the quality electrical engineering of both core and bespoke products, distributed across the whole of the UK and Europe for sales and hire.

Higher Education estates turnover reaches record £30 billion…

An annual report released by the Association of University Directors of Estates (AUDE) has revealed the university estates sector grew by £2 billion in the 2014-2015 academic year, with annual turnover for the whole of the UK now equating to £30 billion.

Despite what is considered a challenging funding environment, the ‘Higher Education Estates Statistics Report 2016’ details the evolving profile of the university estate. Capital expenditure grew by 5.6 per cent across the UK, which AUDE predicts is driven by investment as the sector continues to improve with the knowledge that staff members and students expect high quality and attractive facilities.

Expansion of university estates was also acknowledged. Individually, the universities of Cambridge, Manchester, Oxford, Edinburgh and Nottingham all have academic estates in excess of 500,000 square metres, excluding residential accommodation.

Trevor Humphreys, AUDE chair and director of Estates and Facilities at the University of Surrey, said:Universities have been through a period of significant upheaval and the sector should be commended on its robust management and efficiency strategies, which continue to serve it well.

“However, the future remains uncertain as we try to plan for the impact of the HE White Paper currently going through Parliament. Brexit is also likely to affect our student demographic, our workforce, our costs, as well as research funding.”

Total property costs have also remained relatively level for the past six to seven years, moving from £95 to £98 per square metre, indicating that the sector is committed to driving efficiency.