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May 2009 – Case proven for steel

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We round up our Case for Steel series in this issue, with a four page section highlighting how and why steel construction so dominates the key markets in the UK. We have alternated the Case for Steel articles with a related series on the steel construction supply chain. Taken together they spell out why the UK leads the world in steel construction, technically and in terms of quality and market share.

We examined the Case for Steel under eight headings like health and safety, sustainability, economics and fire performance – we could have used others because there is such a wide range of benefits to be captured when steel is chosen.

A special supplement is included with this issue of NSC (some 140,000 copies of which will be circulated with construction magazines) called Value Benefits of Steel that spells out more about the benefits derived by architects, structural engineers and the users and owners of buildings from using steel. Again, a choice of benefits had to be chosen to focus on, but many others could have been selected.

Among the key benefits is health and safety, which seems to be suffering from a media backlash at the moment. A Panorama television programme in April identified health and safety as something of a nuisance, a killjoy weapon wielded by overzealous council officials to spoil our fun. Nobody involved in construction would identify with the naive message of that programme, and the steel construction sector, while not being complacent, is justifiably proud of its health and safety record and committed to continuously improving it.

The recession has brought a renewed focus on efficiency and value for money which are also areas that steel scores highest in. Being able to make an early start on site, with confidence in outturn cost and that the construction programme can be adhered to, is valued more than ever by project developers across the private and public sectors, and is increasingly important to nervous project funders who are anxious about when investments will start to pay back.

The steel construction sector routinely delivers challenging projects safely, sustainably, on time and within budget. Confidence will eventually return to the economy and when it does the benefits of steel will be more valued than ever.

Nick Barrett

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