Safety, Quality, and Competence must be the focus for everything in construction

Safety, Quality, and Competence must be the focus for everything in construction

... quality design, quality products, quality services ... and ICM champions quality safety too! ...

The ICM fully endorses and supports the general calls from all parts of of the sector to seize the opportunity to change the construction industry in the UK for the better, improving both safety, quality, and competence of the built environment and to ensure the highest standards are met in all new-build housing ...

The built environment is something that has an impact on each and everyone.   The need to make the buildings in which we live and work as safe as possible cannot be overstated. Knowing what we now know - post-Grenfell - the race to the bottom has run, we hope! - Grenfell has to be 'the bottom' found! ... and since the Cole report into Edinburgh school defects - uncontrolled dangerous collapse of new work falling into the playground is about as bad as it gets when safety, security, quality, and competence are not made priorities!

ICM Director of Education & Training David Jones recently met with a group closely involved in the Grenfell tragedy ~ some were survivors! ~ others, like David, were invited as construction and design professionals bringing sectoral expertise and, others attending were professionals bringing their expertise in social understanding ~ but all feeling a deep sadness for the unnecessary loss of so many innocent lives whilst living and sleeping in their homes that should have been safe in all respects!   The common understanding of the group is that the current way of commissioning major project procurement is a socially constructed fallacy that has failed! - and the group seeks to help each other find answers and a new direction ... 

... that fallacy can be explained by reference to a well known 'Theory of Insanity' commonly attributed to Einstein when reported to have said "it's insane to keep doing the same things over and over again expecting to get different results" ... and the group considered a list of factors underlying disaster:

⇒ Leaders don't do their work

⇒ Corruption of purpose

⇒ Inconsistent operating practices

⇒ Failing to listen and learn

⇒ Unaccountable power

⇒ Compliance or else

⇒ Incompetence

⇒ Negative cultural gravity

⇒ Human impacts

Eddie Hughes MP Parliamentary Private Secretary MHCLG says "We have the opportunity to change the construction industry in this country for the better, improving the quality of the built environment and ensuring the highest standards are met in all new-build housing" ...

Professional organisations at the heart of the construction sector are joining to seek to make those changes and proposing potential answers to the question of how to improve quality.    ICM Director David Jones is also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Building [FCIOB] and is both proud and supportive that the CIOB has now set up a Construction Quality Commission of its Presidents to consider the serious signs of systemic failure in the industry ...

The CIOB's Commission was launched to identify the behaviours, both individual and corporate, that either promote or prevent delivery of quality, and what steps can be taken to bring about the changes needed ... and, in gathering evidence and consulting with industry, it became clear that there is a need for top-to-bottom change, and an urgent need to stop quality being sacrificed for time and cost considerations!   The Commission reports the loss of quality as a priority is not happening everywhere, but it is enough to ring alarm bells!

The headlines from the Commission’s work are two broad strategies to deliver practical changes and five key principles to bring about cultural change.  The strategic pushes will cover: 

¤   A new industry a Code of Quality Practice, providing guidance on the best practice currently to be seen in the industry and proposing standards for which the sector should be aiming. 

¤   Education - the CIOB wants to raise awareness of quality management and give people the knowledge and practical tools to deliver it. This work has already started with a new training course on managing quality which is also the start of establishing a system of certification.

¤   The cultural changes will be harder to bring about ... however, the CIOB believes that they can be embedded in the industry, over time.    [David Jones notes the CIOB Commission refers to health and safety as now being a part of the culture of the construction site in a way that it wasn’t a generation ago, that is only partly true - the sector still has much to do to improve the culture of safety and pledges to add ICM's support to the CIOB's work] ...  The five CIOB principles are:

>   Safety and quality must be the focus for everything in construction - quality products, quality services, quality design.

>   Change the mind-set about quality requirements by embedding a culture of quality production. Achieving good quality is not about boxes being ticked; it is about ensuring compliance and exceeding customer expectations.

>   Learn from other industries and from overseas, helping to capture, share and encourage best practice and innovation to continually improve quality standards.

>   Zero tolerance towards poor quality work; pride in exceeding customer expectations. The importance of a happy customer and satisfied workforce is paramount.

>   Prioritise education and training for site quality delivery across the industry, with the introduction of new training and qualifications to allow a focus on best practice in quality management.

Certainly the CIOB has already made an excellent start - not just with this work but by engaging and supporting their other chartered partner organisations across the sector.   The CIOB, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) have collectively launched a free-to-download digital tool – the Quality Tracker – a few weeks ago to improve the quality of outcomes in the construction industry. The tracker will be piloted for the next six months on real construction projects and it is hoped that it will be one of the ways in which a new culture of quality is embedded in the industry. 

Eddie Hughes MP reports that the forthcoming proposals from the MHCLG on a New Homes Ombudsman could be a significant step towards improved standards ... "I know that the CIOB is one of many organisations which supported the idea of an ombudsman and offered proposals for how it could work. It’s also a reflection of their values in putting the public at the heart of their service and supporting others within the industry to do so. A New Homes Ombudsman will lead to improvements in the quality of any new homes built; whilst prompt and effective rectification is essential after sale, what is more important is that housebuilders adopt a 'get it right first time' attitude"

We all win. Buyers get good quality houses and the industry gets the capacity to build more,” said Chris Blythe OBE, Chief Executive of the CIOB.

In order to raise the profile of the need for quality in the industry, we want policymakers and parliamentarians - those who should understand the importance of the construction industry – to support this work and engage with the industry to make it a reality.

It is essential that policymakers focus on improving the quality of the built environment and ensuring the highest standards are met in all new-build housing.   Hughes has only been an MP since 2017 since when he introduced a Ten Minute Rule bill into the House of Commons to improve tenant safety around carbon monoxide poisoning which received a first reading on 13 September 2017 ... the son of a bus driver, educated at a state grammar school before studying civil engineering at university in the midlands and became a local councillor in 1999 - Hughes may have the necessary hands-on understanding of how to build the trust back into the innocent community!

The ICM launched the CDM Competence Registry™® ensuring it is protected for its intended unique purpose - to create and build a robust and secure true standard of trusted competence in safety - focusing the sector onto the original safety intent as a cultural measurable set of the competences - Skills, Knowledge, Experience - that all construction professionals simply MUST have to perform their tasks safely protecting those to who they owe a duty of care ...

Ed.

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