In an interesting attempt to make the life of a tradesman easier, Installer Online have come up with an interesting new iPhone app that may just lighten your toolkit somewhat and make sure you're never without some important tools.

The free app is named InstallerTOOLBOX and has been developed "provide a range of functions that will make every day - and every installation - that little bit more straightforward." It incoporates a number of things that are essential to your job and keeps them all within your phone, meaning they'll be in your pocket at all times!

Altogether the app includes:

  • A TORCH for when you need that extra bit of light dealing with pipes under the sink or rummaging around in boiler cupboards. It features three brightness settings to give you maximum visibility.
  • A quick, easy and above all accurate SPIRIT LEVEL that "measures down to 0.1° to ensure that it is more than just a gimmicky add-on". It can also switch between horizontal and vertical settings.
  • A UNIT CONVERTER that covers everything from temperature to velocity so that you don't have to make any rough calculations in your head or require a pocket conversion guide. All you need to do is enter the amount and choose what units you want it in.
  • Finally, every tradesman loses a pen once in a while so here you can do away with pen and paper for good with the JOB SHEET. With this you can make notes, jot down job specs, prepare invoices and more! It also allows you to build you a record of every project you complete, including photo attachments. These are saved to the app and can be emailed out to colleagues, customers and whoever else may need them.
Sound like your ideal piece of kit? As mentioned earlier InstallerTOOLBOX is a completely free iPhone (sorry Android users) app and can be downloaded from the Apple App Store now!

Following Ed Miliband's promises to freeze energy bills for 20 months, limit the power yielded by the "big six" energy providers and replace energy regulator Ofgem, the Labour Party has also vowed to do something about the Green Deal at their annual party conference in Brighton earlier this week.

In a policy review published on the 24th September, the party promised to address the shortcomings of the Green Deal and create an alternative that would encourage people to sign up and make the changes to their homes. The review read: "The Green Deal is failing to deliver. Since its launch, only 384 deals have been signed up to and just twelve have gone live. This is woefully inadequate so we will overhaul the Green Deal and replace it with a new energy save scheme."

The Labour Party has also called the coalition government's flagship energy scheme "woefully inadequate" and is failing to provide any sort of long-term solution to reducing the country's carbon footprint. Energy secretary Caroline Flint said: "It was meant to be the biggest home improvement programme since World War Two and ministers said they would be having sleepless nights if 10,000 people had not signed up by Christmas 2013. They won’t be getting much shut eye."

Despite constant reports of growing interest in the Green Deal and the government's insistence that those who have had Green Deal assessments were happy and recommended them to friends and family, there have only been a total of 12 homes with completed projects since the scheme's launch earlier this year.

Of course, these changes they propose will only potentially happen should the Labour Party gain power in the next general election in 2015. With that still quite a way off, it'll be interesting to hear what exactly they propose as an alternative in the meantime.

Via uSwitch

The Construction Industry Training Board has issued a serious warning to the UK constructor sector, reminding them that it faces a skills "time bomb" if it fails to find new workers before potentially 400,000 people retire in the next five to ten years.

The new labour market research, published by the Office of National Statistics, breaks the information collected down into the following main points:

  • 19% of UK construction workers aged 55+ (equivalent of 406,000 people) are set to retire in the next five to ten years
  • 24% of workers aged 45-54 (518,000) will then subsequently be retiring in the next ten to twenty years
  • 37% of the UK construction workforce is self-employed, and 23% (182,800) of those are also set to retire in five to ten years

With these huge numbers in mind, the research also noted which areas would be affected more than others. The East Midlands and South West would particularly suffer, with 22% of workers (that's 31,900 and 39,500 for each place respectively) set to leave. On the other hand Greater London, which holds the largest number of construction workers in the UK at 318,000 people, is estimated to not take the hit quite so hard. There only 12% (38,500) are expected to leave. Meanwhile in Scotland and Wales, the number is set to be similar to the total number of people retiring in the North East and South West of England - which is round about 56,000 people.

When you consider all of this, its unsurprising that UK construction was found to have a higher age profile than many other UK industries (19% are set to retire in comparison to the rest's 17%). To combat this, the CITB is encouraging employers to look at recruiting more and more young people, many of whom will have only just received their GCSE or A-Level results and be considering their next steps.

CITB Interim Chief Executive William Burton said: "Almost one in five workers are set to retire from the construction industry over the next five to ten years, so not taking action now to encourage young people to join the industry or invest in the training to up-skill our existing workforce, is no longer an option. The construction sector is essential for growth and, to avoid the similar skills crisis that affected the industry in the early 1990s, we urge employers to act now."

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If you've just finished school and looking for a more physical alternative to office work or college/university, have you considered a career in the construction industry? With demand constantly growing for young skilled workers, you're unlikely to find yourself short of work and doing a job with plenty of variety. But first you'll need the right qualifications, which you can find on an Access Academies professional training course. At our state-of-the-art Cardiff training centre you can find bricklaying, plastering, carpentry and tiling training all under one roof, complete with experienced tutors and the qualifications you need to make it in the industry. To find out more and book your place just give our advisers a call on 0800 345 7492.

Construction sites across the UK will be open to the public for viewing this weekend as part of the UK Contractor's Group (UKCG)'s second Open Doors Weekend.

So far more than 3,000 people have signed up for the event, which takes place on Friday and Saturday. At the sites they will be given a closer look at what takes place on a building site, as well as learn of the things that go on behind the scenes. A wide range of different projects are open, including Hotel Football at Old Trafford, a Technology Centre where new contruction techniques are tested and one creating new lanes on the M25.

UKCG Director Stephen Ratcliffe said: "With Open Doors just a few days away we are pleased so many people are taking part.

"In particular, construction needs more young people entering our industry, and the weekend is an opportunity to tell the story of what a career in a modern and vibrant construction industry looks like.

"It is not about 'dirt and bricks', but an industry that is at the forefront of innovation, new technologies and creating iconic projects."

To find out more about the Open Doors Weekend and book your place, visit the official website at www.opendoorsweekend.co.uk.

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Are you looking to switch careers and join the construction industry as a carpenter, bricklayer, plasterer, tiler or decorator? Not sure where you can get the qualifications to join this exciting, challenging and rewarding sector? An Access Academies training course could change your life. With the help of our expert teaching staff, you'll work through an intensive construction course that gets you the required qualifications to become a professional tradesman. To find out more, have a look at the courses pages on this website or contact us on 0800 345 7492.

Via Construction Enquirer

We mentioned earlier this month that the Health & Safety executive would be taking a tour of building sites across the UK to catch out any that had "less than adequate" facilities. No more than a few weeks later, their inspections have produced some rather shocking results.

So far their tour, which runs from the 2nd September until the 27th, has revealed that nearly half the sites they have visited have some sort of safety failings. Out of a total of 1000 sites, that's a very high number. Many of them had also been issued with enforcement notices.

 UCATT (Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians) General Secretary Steve Murphy said: "These figures demonstrate the dangers faced by construction workers on a daily basis.

"While these initiatives by the HSE are very welcome, inspectors are only visiting a small percentage of all the construction sites in the country.

"These findings demonstrate why the HSE needs more resources to conduct this type of inspection in all parts of the country throughout the year."

Below you can see some pictures of some of the sites they visited:

A prohibition noticed was served on this extension work after exposed scaffolding was found, putting workers at risk from falling through on to the building works.

 

An improvement notice was served here as site management fell below safe standards.

 

Unsafe excavation work here led to a Prohibition notice.

 

Is this the kind of hygiene facilities you should be finding on a construction site?

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Are you looking to switch careers and join the construction industry as a carpenter, bricklayer, plasterer, tiler or decorator? Not sure where you can get the qualifications to join this exciting, challenging and rewarding sector? An Access Academies training course could change your life. With the help of our expert teaching staff, you'll work through an intensive construction course that gets you the required qualifications to become a professional tradesman. To find out more, have a look at the courses pages on this website or contact us on 0800 345 7492.

This week the British Lung Foundation is launching a new campaign "Take 5 and Stay Alive" to promote awareness of the dangers of asbestos, particularly among tradespeople who may be dealing with it every day.

According to official statistics, on average six electricians, four plumbers and eight joiners in UK die from asbestos exposure every week - making it the single greatest cause of work-related deaths. Though the use of the material was banned in 2000, any building made before then may contain it as it was commonly used as insulation. While undisturbed asbestos is relatively harmless, when disturbed the fibres can become airborne. When inhaled, asbestos fibres can cause a range of illnesses - including the terminal chest cancer mesothelioma. The tiny invisible particles stick to clothes, meaning that as well as risking their own lives, workers can be unknowingly putting their family members, colleagues and friends at risk.

The "Take 5 and Stay Alive" campaign aims to ensure tradespeople have the knowledge to identify asbestos and what type it is, with them then being able to assess correctly whether they have the right training and equipment to deal with it safely.

British Lung Foundation chief executive Dr Penny Woods said:

"Twice as many people die from asbestos-related illnesses than on the roads each year in Britain. It's the biggest work-related killer, and the numbers of deaths associated with it are rising each year.  Sole traders and people working for small companies are often under particular pressure to take jobs and deliver quickly, and this can sometimes put them at particular risk of asbestos exposure.

"But it's not just tradespeople putting their own lives at risk. If asbestos is disturbed the particles can affect others too, and we know several women who have died after years of washing their husbands' contaminated overalls.

"Our Take 5 and Stay Alive campaign aims to give tradespeople the tools to act responsibly. We want to ensure they can identify asbestos wherever and in whatever form it might be present, and know how to deal with it safely. Our message is simple - taking just five minutes to assess the situation could save your life, and keep your family, friends, clients and business safe from exposure to potentially fatal asbestos dust."

More information on Take 5 and Stay Alive can be found on their website, which contains plenty of information about the different types of asbestos, where it can be found and the illnesses it can cause.

In addition to this campaign, former electrician Alan North has uploaded a video to YouTube describing his experiences after he was diagnosed with mesothelioma earlier this year. While this is unaffiliated with the BLF's work, it shares the same message about the dangers of mishandling asbestos. You can view the video HERE.

Though we've come to the end of Gas Safety Week, the importance of gas safety is something we should all keep in mind 365 days a year. But to round off what seems to have been a very successful week, the Gas Safe register are taking to the road for a series of nationwide events. 

This Saturday they'll be stopping in at the following locations:

  • Birmingham - Currys PC World, Gallagher Retail Park, Wednesbury, WS10 9QY (12pm - 4pm)
  • Bristol - Currys PC World, Cribbs Causeway, BS34 5TX (12pm - 4pm)
  • Glasgow - Currys PC World, Braehead Retail Park, G51 4BT (12pm - 4pm)
  • Liverpool - Currys PC World, Racecourse Retail, Rark, Aintree, L9 5AL (10am - 2pm)
  • N. Ireland - Currys, Sprucefield Retail Park, Lisburn, BT27 5UN (10am - 4pm)
  • Norwich - B&Q, Boundary Road, NR6 5JS (10am - 2pm)
  • Swansea - Currys PC World, Morfa Shopping Park, SA1 7DS (10am - 4pm)
  • York - B&Q, Hull Road, YO10 3JA (10am - 2pm)
At these events, supported by Currys PC World, B&Q and the National Fire Services, you'll be able to find out more about staying gas safe in your home. So be sure to pop along if you're out and about doing shopping in those areas this weekend!

To mark Gas Safety Week, Access Training are offering 20% off our professional gas course from now until the end of September. To take advantage of this offer all you need to do is quote "GASWEEK" when speaking to one of our course advisors. You can contact them on 0800 345 7492.

It wouldn't be right to support Gas Safety Week without taking some time to talk about who set up the campaign - The Gas Safe Register. If you've been reading our posts you'll already know that joining the Gas Safe Register is a legal requirement of all gas engineers if they want to work on gas installations and appliances in the UK, but what else do you know about them?

The Gas Safe Register is the official gas registration body for the United Kingdom, Isle of Man and Guernsey and was appointed by the relevant Health and Safety Authority for each area. It replaced CORGI as the gas registration body in Great Britain and Isle of Man on the 1st April 2009 and Northern Ireland and Guernsey on the same date the following year.

The main focus of the Register is improving and maintaining gas safety to the highest standards, however its utmost priority is keeping you and your family safe. Their team make sure all gas engineers on the Register (totalling over 125,000) are fully qualified to work with gas. It works to protect the public from unsafe gas work through a number of different means, including;

  • A dedicated national investigations team tracking down individuals working illegally
  • Regular inspections of Gas Safe registered engineers
  • Educating consumers and raising awareness of gas safety
  • Investigating reports of unsafe gas work 

The Gas Safe Register highly advise that you always find an engineer that is part of the register. You can check this by asking to see their Gas Safe ID card, which will contain a unique license number. The front of the card will also display these important details:

  • The engineer's photo
  • The start and expiry dates
  • A security hologram
  • That engineer is from the business you employed

Meanwhile the back of the card will also have printed on it whether that engineer is qualified to do the work you've hired him for and whether this qualifications are up to date. Should that fail, you can also check online or phone the Register on 0800 408 5500. This number is also the one to call if you suspect a fraudulent gas engineer.

So there you have it, a little bit more about the Gas Safe Register and what it does. If you need gas work done always be sure to check your engineer is registered, and if you're a register remember that being part of it is a legal requirement!

 

To mark Gas Safety Week, Access Training are offering 20% off our professional gas course from now until the end of September. To take advantage of this offer all you need to do is quote "GASWEEK" when speaking to one of our course advisors. You can contact them on 0800 345 7492.

 

An important part of Gas Safety Week is making sure people know exactly what to do in the event of a gas leak.

Every year thousands of people across the UK are diagnosed with carbon monoxide poisoning. This highly poisonous gas can't be seen, smelled or tasted, but can kill quickly and without warning. Early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, dizziness, nausea, breathlessness and then eventually collapsing and even loss of consciousness. As an invisible gas, carbon monoxide can be extremely difficult to detect. However there are ways that you can determine whether an appliance (such as fires, heating boilers, water heaters or cookers) are dangerous. These include:

  • The pilot light continually blowing out
  • An orange or yellow flame rather than a blue one
  • A discoloured scorched area on an appliance
  • A musty smell or signs of soot
  • More condensation than normal on windows

If you see any of these things, whatever you do DO NOT try to attempt any sort of repair work yourself - you could only end up making it worse. Instead what you should do is call the free emergency gas number on 0800 111 999 and follow their instructions. As soon as you suspect a leak, don't start any flames or operate electrical switches. Make sure to put out any fires, open doors and windows to air out the rooms, keep people away from the area and turn the gas off at the control valve. 

Once you've made the call, a trained operator will log a number of details onto a computer. The kind of questions they'll ask you are:

 

  • Your name and phone number
  • The address and postcode of the suspected gas emergency 
  • How many people are at the property 
  • Where the smell is most noticeable 
  • How long the smell has been noticeable
  • Are any neighbours affected 
  • Any special circumstances or access information
Following that you'll be asked a number of questions to determine the severity of the situation. This information will be recorded and sent off to an engineer to take action if its required.

 

 

One of the ways the Gas Safe Register has decided to mark Gas Safety Week by launching the very first nationwide interactive gas map, which can be viewed at www.staygassafe.co.uk.

This map reveals just how many unsafe gas appliances have been found across the UK, how many gas-related accidents or emergencies have occurred and even how many unregistered gas fitters have been caught preying upon the public. It's the first time this level of information has been recorded and compared across postcodes, and the results aren't looking good for the capital of Wales.

Cardiff ranked second only to Birmingham as the area with the highest number of unsafe homes, at a total of 31.1%. The full top 10 (if you can call it "top" that is) of unsafe places in the UK can be viewed below:

1. Birmingham (34.2%)

2. Cardiff (31.1%)

3. Edinburgh (30.9%)

4. Norwich and Ipswich (27.9%)

5. Coventry (27.8%)

6. Manchester (27.5%)

7. Bedford (27.3%)

8. Glasgow (25.2%)

9. Milton Keynes (24.2%)

10. Bradford (23.3%)

While there may not be a whole lot in it between the places, these numbers are still significantly higher than they should be. So where did the research find is the safest places? Brighton took the prize with just 5% (1 in 20) homes found to be dangerous, followed closely by Liverpool (6%), Southampton (6%), Northampton (7%) and Hull (8%). 

The data inspected just under 100,000 homes in Great Britain in the last three years, and found that one in six homes, the equivalent of 4.28 million households, had an unsafe gas appliance. Appliances in one in 25 homes were immediately dangerous and if left unchecked were at risk of causing a gas fire, explosion, leak or carbon monoxide poisoning.

One in three gas customers in Great Britain (around 7.69 million households) also admitted that they’ve never had their gas appliances checked or maintained, despite eight in 10 people (82%) recognising that it needs to be done to protect them from gas dangers. Gas Safe Register’s inspections further found that gas fires are the most dangerous gas appliances in homes. One in three gas fires checked by the Register were unsafe, compared to one in 11 boilers and one in 13 cookers. Just like boilers, gas fires and gas cookers need to be checked and maintained regularly to remain safe.

The public is also being caught out by cowboy unregistered gas fitters, pretending to be legal engineers. One in 10 people admit they took it on trust that their gas engineer is legally registered and never checked if they were. Nearly 3,000 illegal gas jobs have been investigated by Gas Safe Register since 2010, of which nearly two in three (61%) left victims’ homes unsafe and one in five were so dangerous that the Register had to turn off the gas appliance immediately.

Russell Kramer, chief executive for Gas Safe Register, said: "Gas safety is a life or death matter and something that shouldn’t be ignored. People are aware of the potential risks of unsafe gas work and they know what they should be doing to keep themselves safe, but as our research has found, not everyone is acting on that information. This is why we have launched the gas map. It is the first time that data on unsafe gas appliances and illegal gas work has been compared across postcodes in Great Britain. We want people to realise that gas safety is something that they should take seriously and by bringing it to their doorstep it makes it harder to ignore.

"We hope to see millions of people using the gas map during and beyond Gas Safety Week to get a better understanding of how they can protect themselves. Some areas are more at risk, but even in safer areas there is no room for complacency. You only need to enter your postcode to find out localised information about your area. You can also sign up for a free reminder service to get your appliances checked, so that you don’t forget to do this vital and life saving check every year, and search for registered engineers. Our messages this Gas Safety Week are simple – get your appliances checked every year, sign up for our reminder service and only use a Gas Safe registered engineer. It could save yours and your family’s lives."

If you're a Cardiff gas engineer, its up  to you to help lower this figure and get our city off of the table. Meanwhile, if you're a trainee gas engineer or looking to enter the gas trade, it is essential that you not only get the right qualifications, but get Gas Safe registered so that you are legally permitted to work on gas appliances and installations across the UK. An Access Training gas course will provide you with everything you need - expert tutelage, professional qualifications and the best foundation work possible for you to go on and become Gas Safe. To find out more take a look at our courses page or contact one of our team on 0800 345 7492.

 

Gas Safety Week: Keeping our nation safe

Access Training are proud to be supporting Gas Safety Week taking place 16th - 22nd September 2013.

Gas Safety Week is an annual safety week to raise awareness of gas safety and the importance of taking care of your gas appliances. It is co-ordinated by Gas Safe Register, the official list of gas engineers who are legally allowed to work on your gas boiler, gas cooker and gas fire.

Badly fitted and poorly serviced gas appliances can cause gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning. Every year thousands of people across the UK are diagnosed with carbon monoxide poisoning. It is a highly poisonous gas. You can’t see it, taste it or smell it, but it can kill quickly with no warning.

If you’re a Gas Safe registered engineer why not get involved and help remind customers they should:

  • Check their gas appliances every year. Gas appliances should be safety checked once a year and serviced regularly by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Tenants – make sure the landlord arranges this.
  • Check their engineer is Gas Safe registered. They can find and check an engineer at www.GasSafeRegister.co.uk or call 0800 408 5500.
  • Check their engineer’s Gas Safe Register ID card. Make sure they are qualified for the work they need doing. They can find this information on the back of the card.  
  • Check for warning signs their appliances aren’t working correctly e.g. lazy yellow or orange flames instead of crisp blue ones, black marks on or around the appliance and too much condensation in the room.  
  • Check they know the six signs of carbon monoxide poisoning – headaches, dizziness, breathlessness, nausea, collapse and loss of consciousness.  
  • Check they have an audible carbon monoxide alarm. This will alert them if there is carbon monoxide in their home.

Be part of this national campaign with events, advertising and PR taking place across the country to help keep the nation Gas Safe. To get involved and order materials to raise awareness of gas safety visit www.gassafetyweek.co.uk. Alternatively email marketing@gassaferegister.co.uk.

 

Back in the beginning of August we wrote a post about the forthcoming Gas Safety week, which was set to kick off between the 16th and 22nd of September. Well time has flown since then, and its now only three more days until the week-long awareness campaign gets underway!

Set up by the Gas Safe Register, this week will see all areas of the gas industry - manufacturers, retailers, training companies, consumer bodies and even the public, make a special effort to inform about the importance of proper gas safety and the dangers from not taking proper care. So far of 2500 different people (including Access Training) have pledged their support toward the cause, and there's still plenty of time for you to do the same! Simply visit the website and sign up to pledge your support, and following that you'll be sent a supporter's kit to give you some ideas of what you can do in your area.

 

What is the Gas Safe Register?

Gas Safe Register is the official list of gas engineers who are qualified to work safely and legally on gas appliances. By law, all gas engineers must be on the Gas Safe Register. It replaced CORGI.

Registering with Gas Safe Register is a legal requirement for anyone carrying out gas work in the United Kingdom, Isle of Man and Guernsey. For more information and to register email register@gassaferegister.co.uk or call 0800 408 5577.

 

How to find an engineer

To make sure that gas appliances such as boilers, fires, ovens and hobs are fitted, fixed and serviced safely, only a Gas Safe registered engineer should carry out the work. If someone other than a Gas Safe registered engineer undertakes gas work, they are breaking the law and could put lives at risk.

To prove they are legally permitted to work on gas, all Gas Safe registered engineers have an ID card with their own unique licence number and a photograph. Those in the building industry must always check that engineers contracted to undertake gas work are on the Gas Safe Register.

To find or check an engineer go to www.GasSafeRegister.co.uk or call 0800 408 5500.

 

Access Training will begin a week long look at gas safety in our blogs, and may even throw in a few special offers for all budding gas engineers too. Gas Safety is an extremely important concern to us, and it is not something that should be taken lightly. Download your supporter's kit today and help spread the word of Gas Safety!