Readers’ comments: Combustibles ban, CPCS cards, Worker death

6 January 2020

Rose Builders was fined £225,000 after groundworker David Scott Green was killed by an overturned dumper in 2016

Combustibles ban should be ‘based on risk, not building height’

CM 19/11

Be careful what you’re wishing for. Before you start endorsing blanket bans on modern materials, remember why we have them in the first place – they were developed as a response to clients’ discontentment with the shortcomings of traditional materials.

Let’s not call for emotive bans. Let’s call, rather, for high-quality, science-based evidence upon which professional specifiers can base procurement approaches which satisfy customer requirements.

Construction professionals – not pressure groups like the Fire Protection Association (FPA), and certainly not politicians – are the best people to design the best properties. To do so, they need more, not less, choice of materials.

Chris Pateman

‘Competence interviews’ for grandfather rights CPCS card holders

CM 20/11

Surely this move by NOCN – a private company that now owns and runs the CPCS scheme – flies in the face of what the scheme is supposed to promote: a fully qualified workforce.

CPCS operators have had over 13 years to become qualified and have until 2024 to do so. If trades, occupational work supervisors, managers etc are required to prove their competency, consistency and knowledge through the undertaking of nationally recognised NVQ assessments, not through grandfather rights, why would plant operators be treated differently?

Not sure, but it seems wholly unfair and simply not right if we want a trained, qualified, verifiable and safe workforce.

Simon Nicholls

It is good to see some sense. What has been forgotten is that after five years of holding the grandfather rights card, we then had to sit an industry-set test proving our ability in the workplace.

Just because some people do not hold the vocational qualification does not mean they are not competent. I have been operating plant for over 40 years. Does this mean that I am somehow sub-standard to someone who has only operated for two years and holds a piece of paper that says ‘Level 2’?

We are struggling to recruit good operators. At least this concession will keep the operators we have within the industry.

Robert Russell

Dumper death leads to £225,000 fine

CM 22/11

Again we are reading the loss of another construction worker. Where is the prison sentence?

Good site management will not allow dumpers to travel up spoil heaps. Tip all muck at the base then the 360 machine pulls the muck into a proper tidy heap.

Richard Moore

How on earth is a death worth £225,000 when a redundancy payout in the NHS can be as much as £400,000? Something in our judicial system and morality is not quite right here.

Denis Lawler

Warning over 6m tonnes of asbestos in public buildings

CM 25/11

If the think-tank research identified six million tonnes of asbestos over 1.5 million buildings why are they not producing the register? They obviously have access to the expertise and presumably have had access to the buildings. Is this just an extrapolation, or worse still “scaremongering”?


If building owners, for both public and private buildings, were compliant with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 then compiling a central register would be a very simple process. However, sadly many are failing to fulfil their legal duty (most notably under Regulation 4) and that does not seem to be recognised within the think tank’s recommendations, and that is a fundamental omission.

Also, in my opinion, the research seems to have unrealistic targets by saying that all asbestos should be removed. Many buildings have asbestos containing materials (ACMs) within the structure so total building renewal would be the only option. This would be unaffordable and in many cases totally unnecessary.

In addition I doubt that the HSE would support “removing all asbestos”, as removal creates a degree of risk. The correct thing to do is to prioritise risk and only remove or encapsulate ACMs which present risk rather than creating an overreaction to a manageable problem.


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