Why we should all read the Edinburgh Schools report.

Every built environment organisation should read the independent investigative report into Edinburgh school collapse and closures. Specifically the 40 recommendations(1) made in the report, from procurement to information sharing to training and inspections. This is basic QA gone wrong throughout the project supply chain from client through to those constructing the schools.

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This is not just a technical failure, or isolated issue, once again the root cause lies in cutting costs and lack of communication. Having robust quality management systems in place is essential but will only be effective with a responsible construction mind set and behaviours.

“This is not an area where corners or costs should ever be cut”

As Larry Flanagan, EIS General Secretary, said: “This report issues a stark warning – to Edinburgh, to local authorities and to all those responsible for the construction and maintenance of our schools – that they must take action to ensure that all buildings are well-designed, properly built and maintained to an extremely high standard. “This is not an area where corners or costs should ever be cut”

(1) THE LIST OF RECOMMENDATIONS … The 40 individual recommendations are listed under the following nine headings. 1. Procurement 2. Independent Certifier 3. Client’s Relationship with the Design Team 4. Information Sharing 5. Construction 6. Training and Recruitment 7. Building Standards 8. Sharing of Information 9. Recommendations for the City of Edinburgh Council 10 Further Inspections

The report can be read / downloaded here: Inquiry into Edinburgh Schools Feb 2017 Final

The following is a reblog from Construction Manager

A lack of proper scrutiny in construction work has been cited as the main reason for the debacle that forced 17 Edinburgh schools to close last year, according to the BBC.

The long-awaited independent investigative report criticised the construction company involved as well as City of Edinburgh Council and the partnership that managed the building contracts.

An inquiry was set up last year following the closure of the schools due to safety failures. Around 7,600 pupils were affected by the closures.

Leading architect and procurement specialist John Cole headed up the inquiry.

In his report, he said: “The fact that no injuries or fatalities to children resulted from the collapse of the gable wall at Oxgangs School was a matter of timing and luck.

“Approximately nine tonnes of masonry fell on an area where children could easily have been standing or passing through.

“One does not require much imagination to think of what the consequences might have been if it had happened an hour or so later.”

The 250-page report identified fundamental defects which led to the wall collapse:

  • not enough wall ties;
  • the wrong type of ties were used;
  • wall cavities were not uniform.

The report said: “It is the view of the inquiry that the primary cause of the collapse of the wall at Oxgangs school was poor quality construction in the building of the wall, which failed to achieve the required minimum embedment of 50mm for the wall ties, particularly in the outer leaf of the cavity wall. The poor quality relates to all three of the following aspects:

  • the direct laying of the bricks and the positioning of the wall ties;
  • the direct supervision of the laying of the bricks and the positioning of the wall ties;
  • the quality assurance processes used by the subcontractor and main contractor to confirm the quality of the construction of the walls.

“All three issues were ultimately the responsibility of the design and build contractor in charge of the site.”

The report said it was not the result of an isolated case of a rogue bricklayer.

It said the substandard bricklaying was either not inspected or was ignored, that an appropriate level of independent scrutiny was missing, and that having a clerk of works may have made a difference.

In his report Cole also questioned whether the drive for faster, lower-cost construction is to the detriment of quality and safety.

The 17 schools were originally built by Miller Construction which, together with Amey, was part of the Edinburgh Schools Partnership (ESP) consortium contract. In 2001 ESP won the £360m deal to design, build and maintain the 17 schools for 30 years. Miller Construction was acquired by Galliford Try in 2014.

City of Edinburgh Council said it was drawing up an action plan to ensure confidence in the safety of all its buildings.

 

 

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Improvement through PAS 91

PAS 91 has recently been updated to align with the Government Construction Strategy.

PAS91-CoverHere are some of my thoughts on recently providing PAS91 support (training events, webinars and live bid support)

As with all bidding the trick is to:

 “delight the client to attain maximum scores and score higher than your competitors”

Easy?

PAS 91 used properly could significantly improve the SME contracting sector, on topics such as Diversity, Quality Management, Environmental Management and of course Building Information Modelling.

The scoring I have seen to date heavily favours certification – to ISO 9001, ISO1400 and PAS1192. Providing these certificates scores full marks, and exempts the bidder from completing a large number of questions in an attempt to describe arrangements that meet the standards, and only score eg 75% of available scores. (in one case up to 12 sides of A4 are expected!)

A contractor without these standards in place are already scoring less than those who have, before they start to articulate their practices.

It makes attaining these accreditations a no brainer, whilst of course providing the benefits of accreditation. From a clients PAS91 perspective it allows further in depth questions in the Specific Questions Module, for eg delivering value, evidence of localism, sustainable material procurement.

The BIM optional module in PAS 91 contains some tough questions, but also provides a useful guide as to what bidders should be preparing for.

Top tips for maximising PAS 91 points:

  • Get a (free) copy of PAS 91
  • Practice, prepare and fine tune  your responses, get them internally and independently checked.
  • Ensure you provide complete responses to all parts of the questions
  • Evidence, Evidence Evidence – use real evidence (think business storytelling) to support.
  • Be consistent between what you say in the bid, demonstrate on your projects and say on your website and or social media (watch those linkedin profiles!)

We will be providing further training, public and one to one webinars, and live PAS 91 consultancy support over the coming months. Do get in touch 

We are also developing 91Cloud a PAS91 portal due to launch soon – watch this space

Also in addition in conjunction with ibepartnership we have developed a low cast but high value package for achieving ISO 14001 for smaller SME contracting organisations. Again, please do get in touch 

ISO9001:2008 … what will the changes mean?

Shaun over at Capable People flagged up the changes to ISO 9001 on his blog over the weekend … Ah, here’s the inside information you’ve all been waiting for.

The changes are so not dramatic that the BSi are giving you … approximately one year after its publication to make any updates. There should not be any major disruption to your organization or your registration and your client manager will guide you through the process.

Sorry, but if the changes are minor, under whelming and very small, mainly relating to clarification, then why give a year to update, and why the need of a client manager to guide you? Is this a case of quality-wash? (We have white and green wash so what colour would quality wash be?)

Without ISO9001 moving forward in line with world of quality, which is now talking in terms of ‘experience’ rather than excellence, or just quality, can the standard remain at the core of the quality management systems paradigm? Or is its day over, and if so what will replace it?

maybe ISO 9004 …

ISO 9004 will undergo a more significant revision but not until end of 2009. According to the BSi the proposed updates focus on the economic sustainability of an organisation. The current suggested title is “Managing for sustainable success – a quality management approach.”

The cynic in me jumps at the sustainable success in the title – surely this will confuse with sustainability in the CSR, triple bottom line sense. Maybe thats the intention – time will tell – but we have to wait over a year to find out.

Meanwhile …

ISO 9001:2008 – dramatic proposed changes

Or Not.

It has been some 5 years since I was actively involved in ISO 9000 implementation, training and audits, but I was still underwhelmed to see the proposed changes to the new ISO9001:2008 standard as posted by Shaun over at Capable People . The world has moved on since 2000 – when the last real changes were made, it would appear the standard has not.

Even the world of quality has moved on from quality of product, quality of service, through excellence to arrive at ‘experience’

Being close to development of other standards though, I can understand the watered down consensus one size fits all committee discussions – and the outcome – but is this the way to bring the most used and influential quality standard up to date? As Shaun says John Seddon will have a field day !

I recall putting ISO 9000 on trial in a court room setting, the standard being accused of not delivering quality, parties put forward their cases for and against, John was the prosecutor, BSi the defence, both calling ‘witnesses’ to the stand.

The verdict? – you can guess, but I will fish out the summary from the Judge and post here.

See also how ISO 9001 is forming the base of a number of standards such as BS6001 – Responsible Sourcing Management – is it up to the job these days?