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March 2007 – Safety success

March 1, 2007 by NSC2 in Comment
A main driver of the constructional steelwork sector’s aim to continuously improve its performance on all fronts has been the recognition of the importance of ensuring that workplaces are safe for employees, the employees of others and the public. Steelwork contractors have a very solid reason for congratulating themselves on this front, with release of figures from the BCSA (see News click here) showing that the steelwork sector is one of the safest parts of the construction industry to work in.

This puts to shame the recent suggestions in concrete sector advertisements that there was something unsafe about the steelwork industry. There are in fact a host of reasons why constructional steelwork sites are inherently safer than sites where a legion of trades is falling over one another. Any construction site is potentially hazardous when proper precautions haven’t been taken, and the steelwork sector can be proud that its efforts to make work safer for its employees, other workers and the public have been unstinting. The success of the strategy obviously makes the effort worthwhile.

Sheds show a sustainable way  

Sheds still have a lacklustre image, but the sector is turning into one of the most dynamic on the sustainability front. The dull image is out of date anyway, especially when you consider the increasing number of distribution and logistics centres that are keeping steelwork contractors busy up and down the country, with giant structures of 500,000m² increasingly becoming common.

It looks like the sheds sector has been selected by major developers to spearhead the property sector’s drive towards greener buildings. Last year at the major networking event for the sheds market sustainability was barely mentioned other than at specialist sessions. At this year’s Sheds event, held in February, sustainability took centre stage and two of the biggest developers seemed to be in competition to prove who could build the greenest distribution or logistics centre. There will be more about this in next month’s NSC.

The steel sector is at the forefront of these developments since virtually nobody chooses to build sheds in any other material. Other market sectors are taking note. Currently one of the construction boom sectors is shopping centres. Towns throughout the UK are being transformed in a new wave of retail investment, which has not escaped the notice of the government. As we went to press Chancellor Gordon Brown was to meet some of the UK’s biggest retail landlords as part of an ambition to push shopping centres to the fore of the sustainability debate. Corporate social responsibility promoters Business in the Community say shopping centres are often seen as climate change pariahs, but retailers are keen to show that they are playing their part in battling climate change.

Companies of all types are soon going to have to behave in radically different ways from what was enough in the past; it will not be enough just to not damage the environment, but companies will be expected to act in ways that positively promote sustainability. For example be able to measure their own carbon footprints if they want to work for many clients. Sustainability is no longer merely rising up the agenda – it now sets the agenda.

Nick Barrett
Editor 

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