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Expert Witness : Building and Property

Idiots on ladders unveiled on Facebook

Winner of Idiots on Ladders competition for Your Expert witnessstoryAfter three months of picture submissions and voting, the Ladder Association's Idiots on Ladders campaign has discovered the biggest 'ladder idiot' in the UK. Beginning on 1 September, the association welcomed submissions from the public of the worst uses of ladders they could find. The competition, which aimed to shame dangerous ladder users into changing their ways, then offered people the chance to vote on Facebook to decide which picture was the worst.

The clear winner, with over 30% of the vote, showed a worker reaching up to the top of a chimney with a gaping fall directly below him (pictured). Not only could the fall have killed him, but one commenter pointed out that his ladder still did not reach high enough to keep him from stretching upwards.

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 December 2012 18:47

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Cranes disappearing from UK skyline as construction contracts further

Picture of tower cranes by Chris Stokes for Your Expert Witness storyCounting tower cranes has long been used as a rule of thumb by experts for assessing construction activity and the number of cranes on the UK's skyline has dropped to its lowest point in over two years. That is according to infrastructure experts at international law firm Pinsent Masons, who have described the situation as: "...symbolic of the sharp falls in new commercial construction, deep cuts in capital spending being made by the public sector, and the current lack of positive UK infrastructure policy."

Data obtained by the firm is the latest evidence of a slowdown in construction activity around the UK, following the completion of various projects related to the Olympics, and is likely to cause further concern around the future of infrastructure spending ahead of next month's Autumn Statement.

Last Updated on Friday, 30 November 2012 17:53

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Public construction projects get a helping hand

The Cabinet Office is to instigate a system to guide and monitor public sector projects that are trialling three new methods of procurement. Project will be assigned expert mentors to guide procurement staff, who will also be able to draw on a 30-page guide to the new approaches: cost-led procurement, two-stage open book tendering and lean procurement.

The programme is being co-ordinated by the Trial Project Support Group, which was set up in September and is chaired by Constructing Excellence chief executive Don Ward.

Last Updated on Friday, 16 November 2012 17:37

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Building company fined nearly £½m following roof fall death

Picture of Menai Centre for Your Expert Witness storyNorth Wales-based building contractor Watkin Jones and Son Ltd has been ordered to pay a total of £548,000 following the death of a roofing worker who fell through a roof while working on the construction of the Menai Centre in Bangor, Gwynedd.

Yorkshireman Thomas Whitmarsh was employed by a roofing contractor working for Watkin Jones and Son as a sub-contractor in May 2007. He fell nearly six metres through an unguarded opening in the roof to the floor below, sustaining serious head injuries.

After spending several months in hospital Mr Whitmarsh was making a gradual recovery; however, the brain injury he suffered exposed him to a much higher degree of infection. He contracted acute meningitis and died on 17 December 2009.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 October 2012 17:26

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MPs call for revolution in public sector building procurement

Picture of Olympic Stadium under construction for Expert Witness storyThe All Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment has called on the Government to implement what it has termed 'a procurement revolution' to deliver significantly better value for money across the public sector.

Among the proposals in its report A Better Deal for Public Building is a call to adopt the procurement processes employed by the Olympic Delivery Authority, which was hailed for its successful delivery of top-class projects, to budget and on time.

The report endorses the Government's aim of achieving 20% cost savings for public construction projects over the course of the current Parliament, as outlined in its Construction Strategy, but it says that, unless Government implements its proposals, there is a danger that the savings will be achieved at the expense of good quality design.

Last Updated on Friday, 21 September 2012 14:11

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