March #3 Update: COVID at Crossrail, National Grid Refurb, MMC Safety Concerns, Grand Designs House of the Year

Crossrail COVID Outbreak

A spate of COVID cases prompted the Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy in Ilford which is currently delivering the Elizabeth line to deploy mandatory lateral flow tests. The Bond Street Station site also cited £450 million worth of delays due to a COVID outbreak. Considering all construction companies are now eligible for free COVID tests and considering the advent of preventative social distancing tools like beable® Wearable, major project disruption seems unnecessary. The two-pronged approach – testing & beable, has helped a large north London site of 7 contractors stay open & on schedule. More updates soon on this! Meanwhile in Ireland, the Government has introduced legislation preventing 60 percent of the Construction industry from operating, which is currently under judicial review in a case brought by Paddy McKillen. Construction is currently due to open on 5 April in Ireland but this could be changed depending on ‘new statistics.’

beable Saves Construction from COVID

Luckily, technology exists so Construction sites can stay open (law permitting) and take care of their workers with beable® Wearable which has been deployed at pilot stage at a large north London site to keep workers safe and productive; it facilitates physical distancing as well as interaction tracking. Co-developed by Electronic Media Services and COMIT Projects and funded by Innovate UK, the new technology has been well received and plans to rollout to further sites in Q2 this year are underway. 

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National Grid Electricity Refurbishment

National Grid Electricity Refurbishment credit Matthew Henry via Unsplash

RIIO-2 electricity construction EPC framework appointed 9 contractors to complete work over 5 years to deliver £1.5bn of construction work, being Balfour Beatty, Babcock, Morgan Sindall, Murphy, Volker, Morrison, Vinci, Linxon and Burns
& McDonnell, as part of the initiative to implement renewable energy sources to achieve net zero by 2050. 

Connectivity for Road & Rail

For Road & Rail Connectivity, why not consider EMS i-MO OptiBond solution? Delivers fast / resilient aggregated 4G and / or fixed line services to site in days. The system is widely used on difficult to serve, mobile Road & Rail projects.  See

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Modern Methods of Construction Safety Concerns

Modern Methods of Construction Safety Concerns credit Daniel Dinuzzo via Unsplash

Following the full untrammelled enthusiasm for Modern Methods of Construction in the latest budget I thought we would outline risks and safety concerns associated with the method. MMC is basically prefabricated parts, or elements built off-site assembled on-site in housebuilding but is being put under question due to concerns raised by Grenfell for example where flammable cladding was allowed to be added decades after the original build. Concerns abound, particularly regarding fire safety due to proliferation of hidden voids where components are fixed together and new materials with unknown attributes. Currently no set of standards or certification scheme exists for MMC even though one was promised in 2019. However, the Building Research Establishment is due to release the certification (the fruit of 5 years’ work) this May, BPS 7014. We can only hope that £10m of funding & taskforce announced in the latest budget for the adoption of MMC facilitated by The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) in Wolverhampton will help the situation.

Grand Designs House of the Year 2021

Grand Designs House of the Year 2021 Kevin_McCloud credit Damien Everitt Wiki Commons

The author loves the show Grand Designs and would go so far as to say it’s her favourite tv program. Mostly it’s the wonder that an acrobat and part time wood carver have a budget of £2m to achieve their life dream of a triangular house built into the side of a mountain, but the achievement of dreams and Kevin McCloud’s sardonic monotone somehow makes for great tv. Anyway, well-deserved TV’s Grand Designs House of the Year is a house built into earth in Buckinghamshire. The four-bedroom steel-framed self-heating house took 3 years to get planning permission but was built for only £310,000 (build only).