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  • Recovery from project fatigue

    A ‘project’ is a set of inter-related activities designed to achieve specific objectives using defined resources within certain time constraints. Project management is the discipline of using a structured and systematic approach to maximise the chance of successfully achieving the objectives of the project. Experience shows that some projects succeed while others struggle to achieve their goals or might fail completely. There are some widely accepted reasons why projects fail including:

    Different ideas about what the project is supposed to achieve

    Lack of measurable steps or stages or a failure to measure them rendering it impossible to tell whether the project is on track or not

    Lack of relevant skills or experience

    Lack of understanding of the potential risks to the project

    Poor estimation of the time and resources needed to deliver the project

    Inadequate planning and coordination

    Senior management are not committed to or personally accountable for the project

    With a structured approach even very complex projects can be broken down into a series of well-organised, resourced and coordinated activities. There is no great mystery to delivering successful projects – just take time and make the effort to properly forward plan. However, all projects are collaborative efforts and a project manager’s abilities to communicate, engage and influence are absolutely critical when developing the project brief, securing commitment to it and putting it into action.

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  • Additional duties of contractors under CDM

    Where a project is notifiable, no contractor shall carry out construction work in relation to the project unless s/he has been provided with the names of the CDM-C and principal contractor; s/he has been given access to such part of the construction phase plan as is relevant to the work to be performed by her/him containing sufficient detail in relation to such work and notice of the project has been given to the HSE.

    Every contractor must:

    Promptly provide the principal contractor with any information (including any relevant part of any risk assessment in her/his possession or control) which might affect the health or safety of any person carrying out the construction work or of any person who may be affected by it, might justify a review of the construction phase plan or has been identified for inclusion in the health & safety file in pursuance of regulation 22(1)(j)

    Promptly identify any contractor whom s/he appoints or engages in her/his turn in connection with the project to the principal contractor

    Comply with any directions of the principal contractor given to him under regulation 22(1)(e) and any site rules

    Promptly provide the principal contractor with the information in relation to any death, injury, condition or dangerous occurrence which the contractor is required to notify or report under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995(a)

    In complying with her/his duty under regulation 13(2) take all reasonable steps to ensure that the construction work is carried out in accordance with the construction phase plan

    Take appropriate action to ensure health & safety where it is not possible to comply with the construction phase plan in any particular case

    Notify the principal contractor of any significant finding which requires the construction phase plan to be altered or added to

    www.jimslater.co.uk
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  • Residential alterations

    There are a huge range of new buildings, alterations & extensions that can be built without having to apply for planning consent (which can take up to at least eight weeks or more) with all the bureaucracy, time & money that entails. This is known as permitted development, however, the following does not apply to listed buildings & you may well be restricted in conservation areas too.

    You can put up a conservatory or single storey extension as long as it’s under 70m³. At single storey level a pitched roof should not be higher than 4m to the ridge or 3m for a flat roof. Such extensions should not bring the house closer to an existing road than it already is unless it would still be a further 20m away from the property boundary. Sheds, summer houses, greenhouses, saunas, swimming pools & play houses can be erected in the garden without planning permission, but they must not cover more than half of the garden or be higher than 4m if they have a pitched roof or 3m for a flat roof. Usage of these structures does have some restrictions (ie occupied as one residence only).

    Turning a pair of semi-detached houses into a single property doesn’t need planning permission. However, you do need permission if you want to change the house back into two dwellings (building two houses on a plot or dividing a house into flats does need permission).

    You can knock down or put up partition walls, insert floors or platforms and create a granny annexe within a wing of a property (with own kitchen, bathroom, sitting room & access) without needing permission. A loft conversion doesn’t need permission if it doesn’t change the outside appearance of the property (staircases & other internal changes can also be done without planning).

    If a property hasn’t already been extended or hasn’t since 1947 you can create a two storey extension without planning, but it must not form more than 15% of the house, but the roof cannot be higher than the existing one & if it’s within two metres of the boundary it cannot be more than 4m high. Apart from listed buildings or if the property is in a conservation area, you do not need permission to install more windows & doors (even if the new windows overlook other properties).

    Off-street parking can be created in a garden & if the property is on an unclassified road (major roads & B roads are classified) permission isn’t needed for new vehicle access on to the property. However, permission will be needed regarding the technical details to drop kerbs, etc. Integral garages, outhouses & other attached buildings can be converted into the main part of the dwelling without permission.

    However, even if planning permission isn’t required for your alterations, you will need to make sure they comply with Building Regulations (a local authority building inspector must inspect & sign off the work).

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  • Without prejudice

    Parties commonly head documents including correspondence with the words ‘without prejudice’ when a dispute arises under a construction project. A ‘without prejudice’ document cannot be referred to in court. However, it is important to remember that a document will only be considered to be ‘without prejudice’ if it comprises a genuine attempt to settle a dispute. The question of whether or not a document is ‘without prejudice’ is a matter of substance rather than form. Therefore, labelling a document ‘without prejudice’ does not in itself mean that it cannot be referred to in court. A letter which merely asserts a claim or a defence is unlikely to be considered to be without prejudice and it is often in the interests of a party to disclose documents to the court which it has sent to the other party in the early stages of a dispute. This may help demonstrate that the other party was given reasonable opportunity to respond to a claim before the start of court or adjudication proceedings. Wrongly labelling such documents ‘without prejudice’ may lead to an expensive dispute as to whether or not the document can be referred to in court.

    www.jimslater.co.uk
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  • Additional duties of designers under CDM

    Where a project is notifiable, no designer shall commence work (other than initial design work) in relation to the project unless a CDM-C has been appointed for the project. The designer must take all reasonable steps to provide with his design sufficient information about aspects of the design of the structure or its construction or maintenance as will adequately assist the CDM-C to comply with his duties under these regulations, including his/her duties in relation to the health & safety file.

    www.jimslater.co.uk
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  • Maintaining balance in project management

    Project managers must contend with demands coming from several directions from the client and the company to suppliers and the team. And you must juggle all those requests while staying on schedule, within budget and without scope creep.

    To be a good project manager, you must play up your natural mediator skills when dealing with clients. You should have a knack for getting people with opposing opinions into a situation where he or she can address the matter and look for a result. A project manager must be good at presenting the pros and cons of each position which hopefully will lead to a less emotional resolution. Remember it is people that break projects.

    www.jimslater.co.uk
    Twitter: JimSlater69

  • Safety net guidelines

    Passive, collective control measures to ensure safe working at height are those that, once installed, require no input from those they protect and which can protect more than one user at a time. Such measures include guardrails, work platforms, airbags and safety nets. While none of these will prevent a fall from occurring, they will minimise the distance and consequences of it. To do so effectively and safely, it is absolutely critical that this equipment is installed correctly by a competent person with appropriate control measures in place in terms of its management and maintenance. Failure to ensure all of this can lead to non-compliant systems being in place onsite and the end-users being exposed to unnecessary risks.

    When using safety nets as a reliable and effective method to protect those working at height the following points should be remembered:

     Only allow nets onsite that comply with BS EN 1263 – 1: 2002
     Ensure all nets have been tested within the last 12 months for UV degradation and are appropriately labelled
     Ensure only competent personnel have effected repairs to nets
     Ensure that full Net Registers are maintained with full records of all nets in use
     Ensure only trained, qualified and competent safety net riggers with appropriate CsCS cards are allowed to install nets
     Demand a handover certificate for all safety net installations completed by a qualified safety net rigger
     Ensure safety net installations are inspected by a competent person every 7 days or after adverse weather conditions
     Don’t allow any alterations to be made to any safety net installation by unauthorised personnel
     Report any damage to a safety net to the installers immediately

    www.jimslater.co.uk
    Twitter: JimSlater69

  • Playing to the project teams’ strengths

    A good project manager realises that each team member has his or her own work style and personality and they take the time to get to know the team on an individual basis. Expecting everyone to work in the same way is naive and can jeopardise a project. The ability to get the most out of your team can make the difference between a good project and a great project. When people feel empowered to perform to their best ability, they display a sense of enthusiasm and drive that benefits the overall project.

    The project manager must be able to detect each team member’s motivational factors and adjust accordingly. Some individuals are naturally more competitive than others. For some, recognition of their work is very important and there are people who value the process as much as the results that come at the end. An effective project manager will identify these specific aspects and create an environment that satisfies as many of them as possible.

    But a project manager who doesn’t respect team members as individuals and doesn’t value the judgement and input of the rest of the team can result in an over budget project and an unhappy client.

    www.jimslater.co.uk
    Twitter: JimSlater69

  • Client’s duty in relation to the health & safety file

    The client must ensure that the CDM-C is provided with all the health & safety information in the client’s possession (or which is reasonably obtainable) relating to the project which is likely to be needed for inclusion in the health & safety file including information relating to the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006. Where a single health & safety file relates to more than one project, site or structure or where it includes other related information, the client must ensure that the information relating to each site or structure can be easily identified.

    The client must take reasonable steps to ensure that after the construction phase the information in the health & safety file is kept available for inspection by any person who may need it to comply with the relevant statutory provisions and is revised as often as may be appropriate to incorporate any relevant new information.

    A client who disposes of his/her entire interest in the structure only if he/she delivers the health & safety file to the person who acquires his/her interest in it and ensures that he/she is aware of the nature and purpose of the file.

    www.jimslater.co.uk
    Twitter: JimSlater69

  • Avoiding the power trip

    Humility might not be the first leadership skill that jumps to mind in project management, but even project managers must understand their complementary role as a team player. Many project managers can be condescending to their team and feel that the title of project manager provides them with a certain power. However, you are still part of a team and your role is to make sure the team understands what is trying to be accomplished, the programme, and their individual tasks and how the tasks are related.

    Sometimes, project managers have to admit that someone else on the team is more capable of carrying out a certain task. Project managers inspire confidence and trust when they have the confidence to defer tasks to those better skilled; the ability to admit they do not know the answer and the wisdom to coach rather than command.

    Those who have a high regard for others, regardless of their experience and role, are always inspirational leaders.

    www.jimslater.co.uk
    Twiter: JimSlater69

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