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Paying twice for the same work

Temporary work should be planned so that it benefits all the contractors on a construction site, by Barney Green

There are many benefits from the fashion for ‘package contracting’ but there are also pitfalls, gaps and hidden costs.

For many years, management contractors have carefully controlled their risk exposure and moved away from operational responsibility. This has left specialist contractors to concentrate on their area and has, in most cases, let people play to their strengths.

The process has developed to allow specialists to contribute to the design and carry the design duty for their package.

This produces a vertically segmented communication structure, with responsibilities clearly laid out - resulting in excellent risk management.

One risk that is not so well managed lies in the area of common temporary works. It is the risk of the client paying more than once for the provision of temporary prevention, protection or access.

Buying protection

Edge protection is a classic example. It is normally first mentioned within the frame contactor’s package, and in the steel frame market this will fall to the steel erector. He selects his preferred edge solution and prices it for his needs alone - to get the metal deck down and the edge trim on. In many -cases the metal decker still has to cut around the posts.

This edge protection is then often in the way of the rebar fixer or concrete gang, and as a result may get priced to be moved.

The M&E and service installers might start now, and find frustration at the lack of protection provided to the voids and ducts within their package. Again they will make suitable financial provision for adding to or adjusting the equipment to suit their needs.

Needless replacements

The cladding contractor now arrives, and he needs to work on the building edge. In most cases he needs to remove the existing edge protection and replace it with something through which he can operate, so he prices this in his own work.

When all the confrontation and arguing has finished, the client will have paid many times over for the provision of edge protection. This is because the package contractors did not communicate their needs to each other, and therefore could only consider their own.

Such gaps in communication are now being closed by visionary main contractors who are setting performance specifications for the temporary works that include the needs of the other trades.

While this might frustrate and increase the cost of a frame contractor’s package, the impact on the project as a whole will be an improvement.

In some other European countries this has been taken a stage further, and they have set up a temporary and safety works package that provides for the requirements for the whole project. This should be a positive safety step in principle, but one can’t imagine too many volunteers for ‘risk managing’ that role over here.

Barney Green is business development manager for height equipment specialist Combisafe