CN’s top 10 features of 2022: bad PPE, banned fuel and pointy projects

CN’s top 10 features of 2022: bad PPE, banned fuel and pointy projects

This year marked a number of small step changes in tackling the inequality faced by women on construction sites – while the gulf between the pay packages of the top brass and site workers widened. Here we round up the issues that mattered most to readers in 2022, tackled in depth by the CN team.

10. The problem with PPE: women reveal why kit is not fit for purpose

The provision of personal protective equipment is a legal requirement, yet for 51 per cent of the population it is not always possible to obtain supplies in the right size. “I fell down a hole and water went straight into my wellies because [they] were so small,” self-employed bricklayer Darcie Richards told Construction Newsrecalling one incident. The TikTok star with more than 200,000 followers said: “It was freezing cold; I was soaking wet for the rest of the day.” In January, CN explored how widespread this lack of basic provision is – and why it’s in the interests of all employers to do something about it.

9. Inside HS2: the innovations at Old Oak Common

The Leeds leg of HS2 may have been pulled but, in west London, construction was powering ahead at the start of this year. Paul Thompson reported on the techniques employed at the megaproject to aid the delivery of two major schemes in one.

8. The six law changes contractors must know about

A raft of legislative and policy changes kicked in from April that had a direct impact on construction businesses. From sustainability-disclosure requirements to prompt-payment thresholds, there was plenty for contractors to get up to speed on. “A number of these changes will add either cost or an administrative burden,” one expert told CN.

7. The UK’s top 10 demolition contractors

As part of the annual CN Specialists Index, we examined how each of seven specialist categories fared over the course of the preceding year. In November’s update, readers were most interested to hear about the demolition sector, which experienced mixed fortunes. An admission of historical bid rigging had hit a number of the sector’s big names. Meanwhile, aggregate turnover was relatively flat year-on-year, although seven of the top 10 contractors reported a rise.

6. Entering the eye of the storm: how will construction fare in the recession?

Three days after chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s disastrous mini-budget in September, the full damage of the government’s economic intervention had yet to fully play out. But with inflation, skill shortages and energy prices contributing to a rise in construction industry administrations, many companies were already facing a stormy winter. In this article, CN considered hard-pressed firms’ prospects of weathering the torrent.

5. The woman who built diversity into Network Rail’s culture

In 2011, Network Rail’s reputation was at rock bottom, especially on issues of diversity and inclusion, so it turned to then-consultant Loraine Martins to foster change. Fast forward to 2022 and, following a number of awards for the company and an OBE for her own work as its full-time director of diversity and inclusion, Martins was preparing to leave Network Rail in a much better place than when she arrived. In March, she reflected on her tenure in an interview with CN.

4. Five jobs that killed Carillion: the £1.3bn lawsuit in detail

A £1.3bn lawsuit against Carillion’s former auditor, KPMGwas filed early in 2021, revealing new details of how badly some of its jobs were going before its collapse in 2018. To support the Official Receiver’s (OR) case against KPMG, which alleged that the auditor had not sufficiently challenged project information provided by Carillion’s management, the OR carried out a thorough analysis of 20 jobs. Its findings showed how projects were reported to be doing much better than they were. CN delved into the details of five projects in question.

3. Police escorts and modular bricks: Bam in a tight spot

Despite a lengthy delay due to COVID lockdowns and the constraints of a very tight site, Bam Construct delivered a new office block in Leeds using innovative methods, CN senior reporter Joshua Stein reported in October. The 37,800 square foot office block called Globe Point now sits on the site of former factories built at the height of the city’s industrialisation, some 200 years ago.

2. Revealed: the top 20 best-paid construction plc bosses

The industry’s highest earners once again saw their pay rocket, after COVID lockdowns had heralded a year of restraint. In October, CN questioned how well the rises in remuneration sat against a backdrop of growing worries over the cost of living among those further down the employment ladder.

1. What you need to know about the red diesel ban

Ahead of the impending red diesel ban in April, CN broke down the issues for contractors, explaining what was happening, why and when. We looked into the availability of alternative fuels, the need for workforces and supply chains to be educated on the issue – and the potential punishments for breaking the rules.

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