October 22, 2021

Charcon Construction Solutions – Health and safety remains top of the priority list

Over 12 months may have passed since we last caught up with Andrew Dix, Managing Director of Charcon Construction Solutions, but health and safety remains very much his number one priority, which has in turn continued to permeate throughout the rest of the company.

“I’ve personally been carrying out a great deal of work on various health and safety initiatives and we recently produced a DVD called Don’t Walk By that has been sent to all of our employees,” explains Mr Dix. “The development of the DVD was a real group effort. We always analyse any incidents and identify those that are the most common because we have a ‘no blame’ incident reporting system, plus it only takes a minute to fill in a card or make a telephone call. Once this process has been completed we can see where the main areas of focus should be, which was what we based the DVD on.

“The government is planning to build 120,000 homes this year and the issue is whether UK construction can cope with this level of increase. We’ll therefore be stepping up our own production in-line with our parent company, Aggregate Industries, to help meet demand.”

Andrew Dix, Managing Director of Charcon Construction Solutions

“It took us four months to produce and distribute the DVD and it was an extremely interesting process. The cameraman and soundman both worked on the Harry Potter movies and one of them has an Oscar and a Bafta so there was quite some pedigree there and they were very good, particularly with the special effects.”

The quality of the DVD has seen it being shortlisted for an award, recognition that Mr Dix believes is vital in helping Charcon to continue strengthening its safety culture. “Award nominations of this type are very important for us as we want to be seen as a leader on health and safety within the industry. The DVD shows situations that could have been handled differently to prevent incidents and accidents. This is another example of us continuing to make inroads on the health and safety journey.

“The key is to continually come up with new ideas and the best way to achieve this is by having constant engagement with the workforce. They know where the hazards are so rather than being reactive to accidents they’re encouraged to be proactive to near misses and incidents. Because of the culture we have been able to build within the organisation, our staff are more than confident to come forward and raise awareness of any potential safety issues.”

Emergency repairs get underway 2

With health and safety remaining at the heart of everything it does, the company has continued to successfully secure notable projects. One recent example saw it providing the London Formula E Race with a range of surfacing and safety solutions. It also carried out essential emergency repairs required halfway through the race weekend, which took place in June.

The FIA’s Formula E is the world’s first race series using only electric cars that reached its climax with a two-day event in London at Battersea Park requiring material for both the track surface and the safety barriers surrounding it.

The project required 8,500 tonnes of bespoke precast concrete and saw a team of 75 staff working on site each day to install 7,525 linear metres of precast concrete safety barriers in less than ten days. Agreement with the local council meant that parts of the park remained open to the public during the Formula E event with minimal disruption during build-up and break down.

Given the tight deadlines and five-day breakdown restriction, Charcon Construction Solutions offered a bespoke transportation and delivery solution capable of meeting the tight deadlines of the project. This included providing 45 articulated lorries full of fencing panels and 271 deliveries of Charcon barriers.

The successful two days of racing on the Battersea Park track proved very exciting for the viewers, drivers and teams, and Charcon’s own team achieved the manufacture of the 8,500 tonnes of bespoke precast concrete barriers in eight weeks and delivery of all the barriers over six days. The challenge continued into the last leg with all the barriers and fencing to be removed in four days requiring another 300-plus articulated loads to be coordinated through the streets of London.

“This was a project where the delivery date could not move or be compromised and the time scales for manufacture were a race against the clock, with absolutely no margin for error,” adds Mr Dix. “It was a team approach from our mould suppliers delivering steel moulds against rigorous timescales; all raw material suppliers responding quickly to an exceptional volume uplift; the manufacturing teams talking with the client to ensure designs were workable, and logistical barriers for our lorry drivers navigating their way into Battersea Park from Nottinghamshire.

“It was quite a logistical challenge and the quality aspect was also very important as we had to redesign the barrier from one of the previous rounds of Formula E to tailor it specifically for Battersea. From start to finish we had just eight weeks to complete the project. With such a tight timeframe, our designers and engineers worked directly with the owners of Formula E and the local authority.”

Some statistics all done in an eight-week window:

  • 280 tonnes of steel cages were made in-house;
  • Mixing and pouring 3200 m3 of self-compacting / levelling concrete;
  • Double and triple casting techniques employed resulting in circa 65 barriers per day being manufactured;
  • Loading and delivering 45 vehicles per day.

Having so successfully risen to the challenges with the Formula E development, Charcon is now looking to play its part in tackling the housing crisis. “The government is planning to build 120,000 homes this year and the issue is whether UK construction can cope with this level of increase,” says Mr Dix. “We’ll therefore be stepping up our own production in-line with our parent company, Aggregate Industries, to help meet demand.

“The second issue is adapting to the changes in the market brought about by new legislation aimed at improving the quality of housing for the longer term. We are expanding the operation to ensure that we have the capacity and the capabilities to meet the growth that we’ll be seeing in the wider market.”

Again Charcon’s forward-thinking approach will see it continuing to build its business base. What’s more, with Mr Dix’s emphasis on safety and the various initiatives the company has in place, it is clear that further progress will also be made in this area going forward.