Volcanic ash fall-out worries the industry

23 April 2010

Volcanic ash has affected the construction industry, with the Construction Products Association being asked by government to carry out an assessment of the damage caused, Construction News reported.

Some product suppliers have experienced problems securing components for machines and the industry is dealing with the disruption to its staff, including those on overseas holidays unable to return to the UK, and others unable to travel to meetings aborad.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills called on a number of industry bodies to investigate the impact of Europe becoming a no-fly zone for most of the past week as a result of the ash cloud from the Icelandic volcano.

Simon Storer, director of external affairs at the Construction Products Association, said: “There are already a few instances where there is a problem getting spare parts for machinery, causing production lines to shut down, and elsewhere isolated projects that are being put back as a result of the disruption of supply of materials.

“There may also be difficulties over original certification paperwork, which is couriered by air, being delayed for some sectors.”

Robert Crossingham, a partner in the construction team at law firm Weightmans, said contractors would be going through their contracts to avoid liability for delays caused by the ash cloud.

He said: “It is not uncommon for acts of God to feature in delay claims.

“It will depend on the contract that has been signed and whether there is any leeway provided for acts of God.  But I can see some potential for dispute arising.”

He added that firms would struggle to get people out of the country to crucial stages of overseas contract negotiations. “It could be that UK and European firms could lose the advantage to Asian and US firms in bidding for some international jobs that are at tender stage and have very tight deadlines.”

The Electrical Contractors Association also warned construction firms of the possibility that falling  volcanic ash in parts of the country could affect the running of construction equipment.

Chief executive David Pollock said: “It would be wise of the industry to begin to look at the physical consequences of the ash being in the atmosphere. It is possible that it may cause problems.”


Come on guys, in this day and age of instant electronic messaging, video conferencing etc I hardly think that this temporary situation will affect too many people with regard to meetings and documents to sign. Yes I think there may be an issue with spare parts for machines but there are other means to get deliveries other than by air. With people been "stuck" rather than be at their work place having a major affect then a rethink of the organisation is required. Remember no-one is indispensable. A reality check is needed, this is a minor hiccup..

Gordon McLeod, 23 April 2010

I must confess, this is an eye opener. I never thought of the ash clouds affecting the industry. Thank you for this insight.

Adelaja Abidemi, 23 April 2010

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