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Galliford Try escalates Athletes' Village row with £8m counterclaim

Exclusive: Galliford Try Construction has slammed J Reddington’s management and “extraordinarily poor” safety performance on the site of the Olympic Athletes’ Village build, as the contractor filed an £7.7m legal counter claim.

In August, J Reddington Ltd launched a £7m claim against the contractor, relating to the construction of the Athletes’ Village for London 2012 (see box).

Galliford Try’s counterclaim, lodged with the Technology and Construction Court and seen by CN, said health and safety breaches led to suspensions of J Reddington’s work in April and May 2010, as well a shutdown of the entire site in September 2010.

Galliford Try is claiming a total of £7,727,714, including £3m in time-related costs, £2.2m in subcontractor’s claims and £1.7m in head office overhead costs, plus interest and indemnity against claims, damage, loss and expense, from what it says is J Reddington’s breach of contract.

“Reddington failed to complete the subcontract works in a proper and workmanlike manner, in compliance with the subcontract documents, the Global Minimum Requirements, the Construction Phase Plan and all other reasonable requirements of the contractor,” the firm claimed.

Galliford Try alleged a “lack of resources and poor management” led to “extensive delays” on the reinforced concrete frames on blocks of the site Reddington was working on.

The HSE today published research claiming that trust, clarity, communication and collaborative relationships were key to the success of the Olympic build, which saw no work-related fatalities and a below-industry-average accident rate.

Lend Lease, as the main contractor, had engaged Galliford Try to carry out design and construction of 14 apartment buildings on three plots on the Olympic site on Temple Mill Lane, Stratford.

Galliford Try then subcontracted Reddington with an £8.4m contract to work on the reinforced concrete frame package for several buildings on the plots.

Reddington claimed Galliford Try breached the contract, and claimed almost £7m, for costs induced by factors including late variations, additional costs incurred by “delay and disruption caused to the subcontract works” and outstanding subcontract sums.

But lawyers from Pinsent Masons, acting on behalf of Galliford Try Construction, said it was not responsible for “the great majority” of delays and called Reddington’s performance in connection with health and safety matters “extraordinarily poor”.

Reddington legal claim

Reddington said GTC “delayed and disrupted” the project by:

  • Failing to provide it with timely or suitable access by failing to provide the necessary scaffolding and failing to provide it sufficiently ahead of Reddington’s progress.
  • Failing to obtain necessary approvals from Network Rail in adequate time to permit the efficient carrying out of the subcontract works adjacent to the railway line which ran alongside part of the site.
  • Failing to issue in a timely fashion several permits necessary for Reddington to progress its works.
  • Allowing third-party subcontractors to store materials and plant in areas it should have had unimpeded access to work.
  • Failing to instruct cast in-situ staircases until very late in the carrying out of the subcontract works.
  • Requiring Reddington to depart from its usual practice of protecting voids in formwork with a plywood covering and instead instructing it to use a proprietal system, for which Galliford Try gave inadequate training and for which Galliford Try failed to provide all the requisite parts, resulting in an accident on site.

The contractor claims “persistent and serious breach of its obligations in respect of safety” including a “catastrophic collapse” on formwork on block N26C due to Reddington leaving the formwork “only partially completed”, leading to suspension of the subcontractor works between 13 April and 6 May 2010.

Galliford Try claims the site was then shutdown in September for three weeks “while the safety failures were addressed” after an operative sustained non-life-threatening injuries on 1 September falling 3 m onto a concrete slab through service riser holes left uncovered by unsupported grilles by Reddington, allegedly despite warnings.

It said this shutdown caused “critical delays” to the work, and that works as a whole were delayed by “slow progress” on reinforced concrete works.

The contractor say that after the formwork collapse “Reddington had made no or insufficient effort to ensure that the formwork was safe”.

It also claims work was suspended as a result of Reddington’s alleged safety failures until after an inspection by Lend Lease on 17 September, and denied that Galliford induced an additional week of delays.

But Reddington alleges that Galliford Try suspended works following the incident while it carried out an investigation of its own health and safety procedures, records and documentation, and further that these were “found to be inadequate”.

Delays occurred in relation to the work on plots N13, N26 North and N26 South, according to Galliford Try, which says it suffered loss and damage and that Reddington failed to complete subcontract works within the relevant period.

It says after all financial factors of the contract and counterclaim are taken into account, it is owed £7.4m by Reddington.

Galliford Try’s safety claims:

Galliford Try claims there was “a long series of accidents and/or near misses caused by Reddington’s breaches of the terms of the subcontract as regards safety”.

The contractor said these included:

  • Unsafe lifting practices.
  • An operator working outside a cherrypicker basket.
  • Unsafe storage.
  • Lifting waste with tower cranes without covering the skips.
  • A failure to train the workforce.
  • A failure to ensure leading edge protection was properly installed.
  • Leaving falsework “in such a way that they had the potential to result in fatal or major injury”.
  • Causing a Canti Deck door to fall three floors with no exclusion zone in place.

Galliford Try claims that Reddington “failed to respond” to written expressions of concern about their conduct “with appropriate urgency”, and continued to fail to comply with health and safety obligations even after the incident on 1 September.

It contested J Reddington’s claims that Galliford Try was responsible for delays to the project or that it was in breach of contract, stating: “It is denied that GTC was in breach of contract, or that any alleged breach caused Reddington to incur loss and expense.”

Instead, it says, Reddington failed to comply with site requirements, to permit and facilitate execution of other trade package works on the site, failed to provide an adequate labour fource, failed to provide unimpeded access for follow-on trades 10 weeks after the commencement of each plot, and failed to take full responsibility for the safety of all persons.

GTC also accuses Reddington of failing to take action to minimise delays and recover lost time, and to notify GTC in sufficient time of any areas of external scaffolding which had not been erected in line with requirements.

Neither Galliford Try nor JRL Group wished to comment when contacted by CN.

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