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Steel builds for the future

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As NSC went to press the latest news in the very fast-moving COVID-19 crisis was, at last, positive. The rate of increase in the numbers of new cases looked like it might have peaked, which suggested that the country’s lockdown policy was having some success and the massive disruption to normal life and many parts of the economy was working.

The light at the end of this tunnel though remained darkly tinged by the fact that deaths from the virus would continue to rise for some time. Failure to stick with the lockdown restrictions until the all clear is given would of course render all the sacrifices that have been made so far meaningless, and we could be back to square one, facing lengthier lockdowns and more deaths.

Construction sites were still able to operate as we went to press. The construction industry clearly wants to play its part in this survival struggle but, as BCSA President Tim Outteridge says in News this month, the whole supply chain must play its part. That means clients, main contractors, specialists, sub-contractors and sub-subcontractors all have a role to play. Key to this is mutual respect for each other’s situations, and an acknowledgement that human life is more important than construction programmes.

Contractual clauses might prevent contractors from stopping work in the absence of clear instructions to do so. Clients may be safeguarding their positions by not ordering shutdowns. The BCSA and other industry bodies have called on main contractors to ensure that, while sites remain open, proper health and safety precautions related to preventing the spread of this coronavirus must be observed.

Work remains underway on a wide variety of impressive steel-framed projects across the UK, as you will see from this issue of NSC. They range from a ‘factory of the future’ for a Chinese biopharmaceutical company in the Republic of Ireland, a landmark training facility for Leicester City FC, a four-storey office building at a chemicals complex in Runcorn, and a replacement sports centre in Shoreditch, London, where this Editor once rose without trace on its squash club ladder.

In news we can see evidence of the extensive plans for projects that we hope to write about in future issues, and which show steel construction figuring in the plans of modern growth industries, including a factory for an aerospace manufacturer, a 141m-long flyover for the A19, planning approval for the UK’s first waste plastic to fuel facility, and approval for Bristol’s long awaited arena.

Steel is a modern method of construction by virtue of its whole life sustainability credentials and the offsite nature of its manufacture, and its benefits are highlighted in two just released guides aimed at clients and designers that you can also read about in News. As Tim Outteridge says, the economy is probably heading for recession. But when we emerge on the other side of this crisis the steel construction sector aims to be in sound shape to continue providing the levels of quality steelwork that our modern economy relies on.

Nick Barrett –

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Click on the cover to view this month's issue as a digimag.