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Faults in Google's NEST come home to roost?

Posted by wilkinsoncc on April 8, 2014 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Guest Blog

By Natasha Sabin

 

Is the Nest Protect fit for purpose?

 

A few months or so ago, the Nest Protect smoke and CO detector was hitting the headlines.

It was the shiny new smart detector that promised to make safety more convenient and less annoying. And it could be programmed via any internet connected device. The company that made them, Nest Labs, was Google’s latest acquisition that the conglomerate $3.2bn!

Could this be the start of the connected smart home we’ve all been dreaming of?

For example, rather than wailing at the slightest sign of burnt toast, the detector will give you an early warning. If the device does go off, you can silence it with a wave of your hand promised Google. Even better, the detector can communicate with Nest Labs’ thermostat. If too much CO is detected, your detector will be able to tell your thermostat to switch off the gas.

It sounds pretty snazzy. But are we sacrificing safety for convenience? Or does the convenience of the detectors make it easier for you to be safe? After all – it beats having a detector with a high pitched squeal that pushed you to the point of tearing it’s batteries out, thus rendering it useless.

Well first the product was hit by news of a study conducted by Consumer Reports found that the system was difficult to set up, which is a frustration when one of the detector’s boasts is that it makes life easier. Then it was discovered that the detectors are only strong at detecting a certain type of fire.  As the nest detector has a photoelectric sensor,  it’s great at detecting slow, smouldering fires. It’s not so great at picking up fast burning fires, which are best detected with an ionisation sensor, something the Nest Protect model is lacking.

And now there is worse news still as Google has admitted that the detector can be accidently turned off by one of its own key features. Nest Chief Tony Fadell was forced to admit in the London Evening Standard that the alarm can be deactivated by accident if people have waived there arms at it. Mr Faddell who previously helped Apple to develop the iPod said whilst unlikely "the fact that it can even potentially happen is extremely important to me and I want to address it immeadiately".

Sales of the product have now been halted and existing users are being advised to switch off the "gesture control" feature while it tries to fix the problem.

Natasha Sabin is a guest blogger from London City Fire Protection, specialist fire alarm installers in London. Visit their website http://londoncityfireprotection.com/ ; to read more fire safety guides.

Green Deal - Do you need Building Regs

Posted by wilkinsoncc on April 8, 2014 at 9:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has confirmed some additional measures that will be introduced into the Green Deal, and provided guidance to clarify where such measures are notifiable building work under the Building Regulations

The following table sets out the new measures which DECC have confirmed will be introduced within the domestic Green Deal later this year . It also confirms whether in the Department’s opinion they are notifiable building work under the Building Regulations; and whether there are competent person schemes for the measures. Where notifiable work was carried out by an installer not registered with a competent person scheme it would need to be notified to a building control body in advance in the normal way.


More information on the new measures is available at:
http://gdorb.decc.gov.uk/news-a-events/254-bre-publishes-updated-green-deal-occupancy-assessment-methodology



Construction Phase Fire Risk Assessments

Posted by wilkinsoncc on March 4, 2014 at 6:50 AM Comments comments (0)

This is a reminder to consider fire at the early stages of a construction project. Sometimes site conditions will be so difficult that alternative designs/ construction methods and materials should be considered at the outset.

 

Construction site fires are relatively rare, but often devastating and potentially fatal, not just to those on site but to neighbours too. Preventing and limiting the effect of a construction site fire depends on good initial design and planning and managing the risk throughout the build.

 

Construction dutyholders are legally required under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and the Regulatory Reform Order /Fire Scotland Act 2005 to identify the risks of fire and manage the key issues of general site fire safety. The key issues of which are

 

1. Risk assessment

 

2. Means of escape

 

3. Means of giving warning

 

4. Means of fighting fire

 

Certain building types are more vulnerable to fire during the construction phase when the final building regulation requirements are not yet in place, for example high rise construction and timber frame construction. Refurbishment projects can also present a higher fire risk. HSE expects higher additional precautions to be taken on sites that present a higher risk of fire.

 

Where the lives of people in adjacent properties are at risk from a fire on a construction site, an off the site assessment of the spread of fire to neighbouring buildings should be considered. The Structural Timber Association (formerly the UK Timber Frame Association) has free downloads of design guides on separating distances if you are considering building in timber frame.

 

All dutyholders in the supply chain should be actively communicating risks and controls of fire during the construction phase. Avoiding process fire hazards involves storing combustible materials safely away from sources of ignition. Further guidance for clients, designers and those managing and carrying out construction work involving significant fire risks can be found at HSG 168 Fire Safety in Construction.

 

We have experience of writing contruction phase fire risk assements for large and small projects, new build and refurbishment for clients including Lovell, JLL, and James Taylor. We have sucessfully worked with clients in the past to remove HSE enforcement notices, and to satisfy landlords requirements, to discuss your sepcific requirements please use our enquiry form.

5th Anniversary sees record growth

Posted by wilkinsoncc on March 4, 2014 at 6:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Feb 2014 marks the 5th anniversary of family run business Wilkinson Construction Consultants Limited.

Statistics* show that construction related start ups generally have a poor record of survival, with less than half still being in business after 4 years, never mind those set up in the depths of a recession. Yet Wilkinson’s have not only bucked that trend they have grown year on year, being appointed on 250 projects in 2013 compared to just 21 in 2009.

Initially working from home Directors Geoff & Amanda Wilkinson have gone on to open offices in Kent, London, and Hampshire and now employ 3 permanent employees and another 2 on zero hours contracts, and are looking to expand again. Their daughter Tara joined last year on an apprenticeship, bringing a second generation to the family run business.

The company offers range of construction compliance services, but the jewel in its crown is its Approved Inspector Licence. The licence granted by the Construction Industry Council means that Wilkinsons can offer an alternative to Local Authority Building Control services, checking plans and inspecting building sites to certify compliance with Building Regulations. Approved Inspectors form part of the Governments commitment to reducing the red tape and bureaucracy that holds up the building industry, and Wilkinsons typically process applications in 5-10 days rather than the 5-8 weeks taken by many Councils.

Wilkinsons offer this service to both individuals and businesses alike, and projects range from small domestic extensions to multi million pound commercial developments. They have already established their green credentials working on a number of exemplar eco projects including new Passivhaus construction and the ECO refurbishment of Diggs Field in Haddenham.

Despite still being a small business Wilkinsons have managed to attract major clients including household names such as Vauxhall, Coffee Republic, JCrew and Telecity. They have also won public sector contracts with Schools, Theatres, Churches, NHS trusts and even the Italian Consulate. Despite being a direct competitor to their own in-house Building Control staff a number of London Local Authorities have chosen to appoint them due to the quality and speed of service.

Wilkinsons have consistently achieved over 90% customer satisfaction and been awarded both ISO 9001 and EXOR accreditation. Such success has not gone un-noticed and Wilkinsons have even been approached by the World Bank to advise on Construction Regulations in the UK as part of their annual Doing Business report.

We would like to thank you all for your support and orders which have made this possible, and look forward to working with you again in the future.

*Source: Entrepreneur Weekly, Small Business Development Center 1.1.2014

 

Podcast

Posted by wilkinsoncc on November 14, 2013 at 9:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Podcast first published on Building Design Expert September 2013

We chat with Geoff Wilkinson, and he shares his thoughts on the current Building Regulations, their value and some of their short-comings, and a lot more besides.

 

This podcast is approximately 43 minutes long

 

The podcast can also be downloaded from iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/building-design-expert-blog/id639243437 ;


                                                                                                                                                                                            


 

HSE Refurbishment crackdown in September 2013

Posted by wilkinsoncc on September 3, 2013 at 10:40 AM Comments comments (0)

The HSE have announced it will carry out a major inspection and enforcement initiative targeting the refurbishment sector, from 2 to 27 September 2013. 

The HSE has said it will focus in particular on small sites to demonstrate that it is prepared to use the enforcement tools at its disposal to prevent immediate risk and bring about sustained improvements

The initiative will focus on the main causes of accidents and ill-health in refurbishment, including: falls from height, temporary works (structural stability) asbestos & respirabile silica and site welfare.

To ensure that you are up to date why not subscribe to our Health & Safety Advisory service? For just £98 + VAT per annum you get 

  • Unambiguous, practical, objective advice and peace of mind
  • Regular newsletters to keep you abreast of current legislation and codes of good working practice
  • Telephone and email helpline 8am - 6pm (Monday to Friday)
  • Certificate of membership 
  • 20% discount on all CPD / distant learning courses

 

     To find out more email office@thebuildinginspector.org quoting #HSEAdvice                                                

Planning simplified - but does it go far enough?

Posted by wilkinsoncc on August 28, 2013 at 10:40 AM Comments comments (0)

The Government have announced new online national planning guidance which it hopes will give much needed simplicity and clarity to the planning system. 

Planning shouldn’t just be the preserve of technocrats, lawyers and council officers. Yet up to now even the experts have struggled to plough through all the background documents and find the right advice. To be effective planning needs to be supported by practical guidance that anyone can consult and follow.

 

The existing technical guidance, often complex and repetitive, is catalogued in an astonishing 230 separate documents and is almost impossible to use effectively. Following an external review, ministers have proposed a new streamlined planning practice and today (28/8/2113)  sees the opening of the new tool in test mode and for comment. Unfortunately none of the current planning practice guidance can be cancelled until the final online guidance is in place and live later in the autumn.

This is a great step forward but I dont feel it goes far enough, and certaintly does nothing to speed up the process or improve the customer experience of making a planning application. Dont get me wrong some Council planning department are excellent, but a lot are simply shocking, missing deadline after dealine for getting applications processed. What I believe we need is an expansion of competition by allowing approved persons to certify and self-certify planning compliance or to allow applicants and agents to process applications under delegated powers or prior to commitee regardless of the location of the development. 

We have already seen that competition between local authorities and Approved Inspectors in the provision of building control services provide a stimulus to greater efficiency and higher standards of service to the customer . 

The introduction of competition in development control is the logical future for the new planning regime, struggling to balance the need to speed up the system with limited public resource. Whilst some might argue that it must remain a LA function performed by LA employees the truth is that there has already been creeping privatisation under the Labour Government - to the extent that saw entire departments taken over by private suppiliers (see http://www.capitasymonds.co.uk/partnerships/breckland.aspx) .

A proposal to allow Approved Persons could introduce competition in service provision but still ensure impartial and professionally managed local consultation and free up Councillors and their officers to focus on ‘the vision’: getting and keeping their policies and local plan-making up to date – surely this is the proper role for democracy in planning. 

Todays announcement can be read in full at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-streamlined-planning-guide-launched-online ;



Latest News

Posted by wilkinsoncc on July 22, 2013 at 11:30 AM Comments comments (0)

For the latest news and views check out our Twitter Account and newsletter Compliance In-Site


3/4M Fines after worker is killed by runaway lorry

Posted by wilkinsoncc on April 25, 2013 at 10:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Two companies were today (24 April) ordered to pay a total of £794,658 in fines and costs after a driver was run over and killed by his own lorry.

 

Father-of-three Gary Walters, 51, was working for Gloucester-based contract haulier Larkins Logistics Ltd when the fatal incident occurred on 11 October 2010.

 

He was collecting a trailer loaded with structural concrete products from Bison Manufacturing Ltd in William Nadine Way, Swadlincote, Derbyshire. He failed to apply the brake in his cab and, because Bison’s drivers had not applied the brake to the trailer, the vehicle moved off as he was coupling the two parts together.

 

Mr Walters, of The Street, Crowmarsh, Oxfordshire, is believed to have gone round the front of the vehicle, possibly in an attempt to get into the cab and apply the brakes, but he was struck by the cab and run over. He died of multiple injuries.

 

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that drivers working for Bison did not routinely apply the trailer brakes to ensure the units were safely parked. Following Mr Walters’ death, a police vehicle examiner examined ten other trailers at the site but none had the brakes applied, and no other manual system of restraint, such as chocks or hooks, was in place.

 

Both companies had identified the risk to workers, but had failed to implement appropriate control measures. Their method of working ignored published safety guidance, which meant that drivers and other employees were all at risk.

 

Following a trial on 8 and 9 April 2013 Larkins Logistics Ltd, of Dobbs Hill Farm, Staunton, Gloucester, was found guilty of breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was today (24 April) fined £350,000 for the Section 2(1) offence, £100,000 for the Section 3(1) offence and ordered to pay full costs of £23,317.

 

Bison Manufacturing Ltd, of Bridge Place, Anchor Boulevard, Admirals Park, Crossways, Dartford, Kent, admitted the same charges and was fined £233,000 for the Section 2(1) offence, £67,000 for the Section 3(1) offence and ordered to pay full costs of £21,341.

 

Mr Walters had three children with his wife Vanessa – James, who was 19 at the time of the incident, Joanna, 15, and Tanya, 13. Mrs Walters said:

 

"I hope that people learn from this tragedy and that today’s prosecution will go some way to changing the way people in the same industry work. I do not want this to happen to another family.

 

"Telling our children their dad had died was the worst experience of my life. I felt so helpless that they were hurting and that there was nothing I could do to make it better. As a parent you want to protect your children at whatever cost.

Domestic client's and CDM Regulations: Do you need to notify?

Posted by wilkinsoncc on April 18, 2013 at 1:00 PM Comments comments (0)


 

A client is an organisation or individual for whom a construction project is carried out.

 

Clients only have duties when the project is associated with a business or other undertaking (whether for profit or not). This can include local authorities, school governors, insurance companies and project originators on Private Finance Initiative (PFI) projects.

 

However domestic clients are a special case and do not have duties under CDM Regulations. Domestic clients are people who have work done on their own home or the home of a family member.

 

BUT that does not relate to a trade or business, whether for profit or not. It is the type of client that matters, not the type of property.

 

Local authorities, housing associations, charities, landlords and other businesses may own domestic property, but they are not domestic clients. Also if the work is in connection with the furtherance of a business attached to domestic premises (ie a shop) the client is not a domestic client. Sometimes groups who would otherwise be domestic clients form companies to administer construction work.

A common example of this is a company formed by leaseholders of flats to undertake maintenance of the common parts of a structure. In such a case the company is not a domestic client and will have duties under the regulations.

 

As domestic clients have no client duties under CDM which means that there is no legal requirement for appointment of a CDM-C or principal contractor when such projects reach the notification threshold. Similarly, there is no need to notify HSE where projects for domestic clients reach the notification threshold.

 

However, its often forgotten that designers and contractors still have their normal duties as set out in Parts 2 and 4 of CDM and domestic clients will have duties under Part 4 of the regulations if they control the way in which construction work is carried out. Designers and contractors working for domestic clients have to manage their own work and co-operate with and co-ordinate their work with others involved with the project so as to safeguard the health & safety of all involved in the project. The guidance in http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg344.pdf is a great starting point.

If you are unsure if the rules apply to your project contact jim@thebuildinginspector.org for general advice and prices for writing Health & Safety Files, RAMS etc


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