December 3, 2015

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Construction isn’t my business!

By Michael Spanczak, principal consultant, Turner & Townsend

So you think construction is not your business? Think again… Construction work is regulated by the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM). Section 2(1) defines construction and it is lengthy. Most businesses will carry out building maintenance, re-modelling, refits and refurbishments from time to time. By definition, this is construction, and no matter how big or small the job, businesses must comply with CDM 2015.

If your business is not in mainstream construction, you may find meeting your duties under the Regulations problematic and a potential minefield, because specialist knowledge and skills are required and these may not be available in-house.  If you are not wary you could easily slide into non-compliance.

The following are a few pitfalls to consider:

  • Managing construction works with business systems designed to support non-construction activities. For example, procurement processes supporting a Just-In-Time (JIT) production line may not be suitable for the procuring of contractors and specialist professional services, because critical factors for safe construction are not considered, such as:
    • Is the tender realistically priced for delivery (too low, too high, just right)?
    • What is known of the contractor’s safety record?
    • Is there sufficient evidence of competence?
    • Has sufficient lead time been factored in to mobilise people, plant and materials?
  • Interfaces between production, machinery fit-out, construction and maintenance activities.
  • Conflicting needs of the business and conflicting priorities between multiple internal clients.
  • Delivering to challenging, or time-critical programmes, including:
    • Fitting around planned shutdowns.
    • Limited time windows for some operations or accesses.
    • 24 hour/7 days a week construction working.

Getting it right may have cost implications and if you are on tight margins it may be tempting to ignore the pitfalls. However, you do that at your own peril! The additional costs of getting construction management right will pale into insignificance against those costs incurred if you get it wrong.

These costs can include remedial construction costs, wasted materials, unplanned waste disposal costs, additional labour costs, loss of production, legal fees, fines, and in the worst cases, damage to the organisation’s reputation. This list is not exhaustive and as the complexity of the job increases, it gets longer.

It does not matter if your organisation is a hospital, a factory, an office, a school or a shop; if you are an owner, a senior business manager, a facilities manager or a safety professional you need to understand CDM 2015. So read the regulations, read the guidance, talk to construction safety specialists and acquire knowledge, and with this gain understanding that construction is a part of your business.

Michael Spanczak is principal consultant at Turner & Townsend

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