Via British Builder and Developer

Remember when a van was simply a place that got you from A to B? Well, new research published by Direct Line of Business has revealed that those days may be long gone, with tradespeople using their vehicles for all sorts of different purposes.

Plumbers, electricians, gas engineers and various other forms of tradesperson are practically living out of their vans now - if not using them for sleeping then as mobile officies or even entertainment centres. Unsurprisingly nearly half (45%) are using them as a dining room to eat meals while on the job, and a lower 31% using it as a mobile office to manage their business.

One in ten (14%) are also using their vans as a place to smoke, which can cause additional dangers to their health. Smoking in an enclosed area poses additional health risks, as research from the British Lung Foundation found the levels of toxins in a vehicale can be up to 23 times higher than in a smokey bar.

Perhaps the most fun statistic of the results was that one in ten are using it as somewhere to keep themselves entertained with video games. While most of these might be doing so with their mobile phones, some (2%) are even going as far as to install consoles such as X-Boxes and Playstation 3s. As many as one in 20 (4%) have televisions in their vehicles.

Melissa Hunt, Business Manager at Direct Line for Business, said: "With tradespeople working long hours on the job, it is no wonder they often end up eating, managing paperwork and even sleeping in their vehicles. However, customising their van with the latest gadgets and installing entertainment centres may not only be a distraction and compromise their safety but it is unlikely to be covered if stolen."

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Have you considered stepping into a brand new career and becoming a fully qualified tradesperson? Here at Access Academies we offer a full spectrum of trade courses including plumbing, gas, electricity, carpentry, tiling, plastering and painting & decorating. By training with us not only will you enjoy our state-of-the-art facilities and experienced tutors, but also gain exactly what you need for a long and prosperous career. To find out more please get in contact with our course advisers on 0800 345 7492.

Via Construction Enquirer

Towards the end of September we wrote up a post revealing some of the horrific conditions the Health & Safety Executive had found construction sites in, and now they have returned with even more shocking images of what some workers are subject to.

The HSE are still compiling the final results of their tour across UK building sites (which ran over the course of September), but their initial figures have ALREADY shown that nearly half the sites they visited had some sort of serious safety failing.

This alarmingly high rate has promoted the Unite union to call for increased funding in order for the HSE to carry out more site inspections.

Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: "The HSE's spot checks throughout September are proof that the Executive needs more capacity and funding.

"The extent of the breaches uncovered also shows why trade union health and safety committees are so important in the construction industry and why we need more.

"The ending of the spot checks will be manna from heaven for the worst employers and unfair to employers who work with unions to get it right. The government’s attack on health and safety must be reversed."

Below is the latest batch of pictures released by the HSE:

Wheeled scaffolding precariously balanced at this site.

This site seems to have absolutely no regard for electrical safety.

Would you use this ladder at the top of a four lift scaffold?

I would hardly call this support adequate.

A new survey from the Chartered Institute of Building has suggested that many construction professionals feel that corruption is commonplace in the industry, with many being offered bribes or incentives during their time.

The survey used a sample of 700 construction professionals and aimed to investigate whether corruption is considered to be a problem in the UK, exactly what practices were considered "corrupt" and which areas were particularly susceptible to them. The sample included over 300 senior managers and directors, with more than one in three (35%) admitted to have being offered a bribe or incentive on at least one occasion. Nearly 38% had come across cartel activity at least once and of those, 29% have witnessed it within the last 12 months.

They placed the blame on squeezed tender margins and reduced workloads, which were resulting in pressuring professionals into corrupt practices in order to stay afloat.

The rest of the main statistics from the survey have been listed below:

  • 49% of respondents believe corruption is common within the UK construction industry, just 2% fewer than the first survey published in 2006.
  • Cultural (27%) and economic (23%) are cited as the main reasons for corruption.
  • Cover pricing is seen to not be corrupt by 20% of respondents. Although, predominantly other adverse practices linked to the construction industry are seen to be corrupt (billing for unperformed work, collusion and cartel activity).
  • 67% indicate that the use of gifts and corporate hospitality can be treated as bribery.
  • 43% suggest that all the stages of the ‘construction process’ are susceptible to corruption. 35% specify that the pre-qualification and tendering phase is the most at risk.
  • Over a third said they have encountered cartel activity in the UK construction industry. Of those, 29% said it was in the last 12 months.
  • 35% of respondents have been offered a bribe or incentive on at least one occasion.
  • 40% do not know if their company has a whistle-blowing policy. 54% indicated that they are aware and only 7% said that they have used it.
  • Respondents acknowledge that the UK construction industry (50%) and the UK Government (55%) are not doing enough to prevent and tackle corruption.

Graham Hand, Coordinator of the UK Anti-Corruption Forum, said "This valuable report shows that despite the introduction of a tough new Bribery Act in 2010, corruption is still common in the construction business in this country.

"That is unacceptable. The law enforcement agencies need to work with the professional and business organisations to educate companies about their responsibilities, and they must act against companies that break the law."

CIOB Deputy Chief Executive Michael Brown added that measures such as the Bribery Act had a limited effect, with no prosecutions against businesses taking place. "If the UK is going to live up to its rhetoric of being tough on corruption, both the Government and industry must do more to show proof of progress," he remarked.

Via Construction Enquirer

The accessories we buy may not be what they seem. Counterfeiting is big business, it is estimated that 10% of all world trade is counterfeit! In the UK that amounts to £30m of counterfeit electrical goods enter the supply chain.

Since 2000 15 million counterfeit products have been seized, mainly circuit breakers and wiring accessories. The vast majority of these counterfeit goods come from China, but some have been found to originate in Dubai and East Africa.

Counterfeit items are hard to spot, they may carry a well-known brand name and all the certification markings, the biggest difference may be the price! The items will not have under gone any form of testing, and they will not meet the required BS standards.

See the full article in Electrical Contracting News.

- Mark Jenkins

 

Mark Jenkins is the Electrical Course Development Manager here at Access Training. If you would like to learn more about electrical work and maintenance, you might want to consider one of the many electrical training courses we offer. These are available for both DIY enthusiasts AND people looking to gain the vital qualifications needed to make the career change to become an electrician. To find out more give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

Via Tilezine

The Tile Association have warned retailers to stay alert of a credit card scam that last affected tilers back in 2010.

Like before, the scammer will phone up as a customer to place an order for Quartz tiles worth around £3,000. They will say that they do not live locally and are unable to visit the store, and therefore pay for the tiles using a credit card. The payment will be successfully processed and the tiles themselves will either be collected by a courier or delivered to a local address.

Weeks later, the card issuer recalls the payment after being told by the holder that it is an unauthorised/fraudulent payment. The retailer will then discover when they try to retrieve them that the tiles are gone, leaving them with a larger cost to cover.

Phil Reid, Association Executive for The Tile Association, warns retailers "Please be wary of taking large value credit card payments over the phone, this method of payment is not considered secure by the banks and you face the risk of not being insured against the loss, especially if the delivery address is different to the registered address of the card. Insisting that the customer visits the store to pay for the goods via the 'chip and pin' system or via a BACS transfer, if they are unable to visit your store, gives you protection from the banks recovering the payment without your knowledge or consent."

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If you're a keen DIY tiler thinking of turning professional or would like to begin your tradesperson journey with this avenue of the construction industry, an Access Training course will provide you with everything you need for a happy and properous career. With a state-of-the-art training centre, experienced staff and a course providing you with all the necessary qualifications for employment, you're unlikely to find a better alternative elsewhere. To find out more about our tiling courses or any of the other trades training courses we offer, have a chat with one of our course advisers by calling 0800 345 7492.

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