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President’s Column: July/August 2023

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BCSA President, Gary Simmons

Welcome to my first President’s column.

In each edition, I want to discuss topical issues that are important to the industry and to the BCSA Membership, so if there is a subject that you think is worthy of discussion, then please contact the BCSA and we will endeavour to include it as best we can.

This month the focus is on what is available to you, as BCSA members, in relation to training and competency.

A recent CROSS safety newsletter reported on the incorrect installation of tension control bolts during the construction of a new highway bridge over a railway. Fortunately, this error was identified and corrected prior to completion of the works, but we shouldn’t need to rely on post-construction inspections to correct these potentially serious errors.

The BCSA run a series of training courses including one on Bolting Competency, which includes a specific section on preloaded bolt installation. Other training courses include Welding, Temporary Works, Painting and Steel Decking Installation.

So, to ensure that your staff are fully competent and are able to carry out their work in a safe environment, check out the new BCSA website and make use of either the in-house or e-learning training packages that are available to both members and non-members.

In addition to the physical training courses that the BCSA run, we are also here to provide technical advice on matters of design and fabrication, and also offer support on contractual and legal issues to our members. So again, please continue to use the facilities that your BCSA membership entitles you to.

If you attended the BCSA Annual Dinner in June this year, you will know that one of my aspirations during my term as President is to raise the profile of the Steelwork Contractor / Fabricator within the larger project delivery team. Despite our expertise and experience across a wide range of disciplines, our input into the structural design of the buildings and structures that we deliver is often restricted to a subcontractor role where we are unable to influence the decisions on (for example) materials, complexity and sustainability.

With a much earlier appointment and invitation to the design table, I believe that we can add both commercial and practical value to the design process, something that I have witnessed and have personal experience of on many projects.

The whole steelwork construction industry is working towards a more carbon neutral and sustainable world, and as the people responsible for delivering this goal, I believe that our involvement needs to be on an equal footing to that of the Architect and the Structural Engineer. This isn’t a difficult concept to understand, but it is one that challenges the traditions and structure of the UK construction industry, but one that I believe is worthy of major discussion.

Finally, to conclude my first column, I want to remind you of the BCSA’s Steel Construction Sustainability Charter that is available to all members. Simple registration and demonstration of your environmental credentials will gain you the appropriate Charter Level that can be used to validate your position on sustainable construction during the project tender period. This charter is now becoming widely specified within the Structural Engineer’s project specification to ensure sustainable construction, so if you haven’t already done so, I would advise you to apply and register as soon as possible.

Gary Simmons
BCSA President

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