Following on from what was the worst accident in recent history for the Demolition industry, the IDE held their Spring Seminar back at the Leeds Royal Armouries on the 26th of February.

Recent events at Didcot Power Station made for a sombre mood amongst the attendees and the day’s proceedings were commenced with a minute’s silence to remember the fallen at the site.

IDE President Duncan Rudall welcomed yet another sell-out event before introducing the first speaker; Brown and Mason’s Alex Haddon. After spending the last few weeks preparing a talk on the anatomy of a blowdown, Mr Haddon considered the tragic events earlier in the week and quickly changed the agenda to speak about the important work his company undertakes with schools in the vicinity of where they are operating. The time taken by members of the Brown and Mason workforce to actively visit local schools has been hailed a great success by local communities. The visits are not just to inform the children of the dangers found on a demolition site but to engage with them as to the possibilities of working within the industry in later years. The response from the children, especially with explosive demolition and large machinery, is one of great enthusiasm with a constant stream of questions being asked. The company actively promote their operations and invite schools for accompanied tours to see the projects in action. Alex Haddon

One of the topics constantly being talked about within the industry is payment. Daniel Silberstein from Hawkeswell Kilvington Ltd enlightened the audience with the details on payment issues and adjudication processes. While the subject may be relevant to most, if not all companies within our industry, the legal process for the application for funds to be paid is very complex which Mr Silberstein spoke about in great length. Both from a sub-contractor and main contractor point of view, the agreement and following of payment schedules, adjudications and the serving of notices plays a vital part in the settling of financial accounts.

A regular and welcomed contributor to the IDE Seminar is Martin Bjerregaard from D3 Consulting. Mr Bjerregaard spoke about his work providing demolition consulting and advice to countries affected by civil war and natural disasters around the World. Mr Bjerregaard and volunteers from the UK demolition industry have spent time in devastated regions such as Syria and Nepal advising and assisting the local community in the safe demolition of damaged structures. Ownership of buildings and the gaining of permission to demolish structures can be troublesome in some areas plus the inaccessibility to rural locations often hit by earthquakes provide further complications.

Wendy Jones from Loughborough University was next to take to the stage. Mrs Jones is a Research Associate in the Building and Civil Engineering department within the university and spoke about the use of nano technology within building materials and their potential risks to demolition contractors. The use of nano technology within the building industry is becoming more prevalent with the use of special coatings and additives in concrete products. While the majority of the uses are harmless there are certain types, carbon nanotubes, which are being added to concrete and screed products and these materials are being likened to asbestos fibres in their make-up and potential harm causing.

Mike KehoeCompleting the morning session was Mike Kehoe from C&D Consultancy. Mr Kehoe spoke about the company’s response to a huge blaze at a former tobacco factory in Nottingham. The factory had been converted into student accommodation when the devastating fire broke out in 2015. C&D Consultancy were called in to assist the emergency services and Newline demolition to undertake partial demolition works in an effort to bring the fire under control. Mr Kehoe described the company’s work including the compartmentalisation of the building to allow fire fighters to extinguish the fire. One of the major issues the demolition engineers were faced with was the security of the site with press, loss adjusters and students wanting to gain access to the premises.

The afternoon sessions got underway with a late substitution. NFDC CEO Howard Button unfortunately couldn’t make the event with Iain Kirk, Lead Trainer at the NDTG stepping in admirably to talk through the recent and up-coming changes to the CCDO Card Scheme and the forthcoming introduction of Smart Card technology. The CCDO card system has undergone changes over the past 12 months with the introduction of new categories including the new Chargehand category. Mr Kirk also touched on the new apprenticeship schemes now available within the industry.

 Ian Wharton, Operations Director at the RVA Group spoke about his project at Jurong Island in Singapore. The complex project was to undertake the demolition of an old jetty used to bring sea water onto the shore for cooling purposes. Mr Wharton spoke about the potential business opportunities for demolition contractors wanting to work outside the UK with many countries lagging behind with demolition and dismantling projects. The 20-week project involved the removal of the jetty and all associated foundations and pumping equipment including 2000t of concrete deck, beams and pile caps along with 32 tubular and 140 sheet piles. All material was removed and recycled within the local area.

Completing the day’s proceedings was IDE President Duncan Rudall. Mr Rudall is a Director of DCS Training with part of this company undertaking the controlled bursting of concrete with the Autostem product. Classified as a non-detonating pyrotechnic, the Autostem product can be used to effectively break large areas of reinforced concrete where the ability to use more traditional methods such as explosives and hydraulic breakers are not allowed or ineffective. Despite initial fears over the product, the first use of Autostem was at the nuclear facility in Dungeness. Not only was this the first time it was used in the UK but the first time ever and explosive type material was used within a live nuclear environment.  Unfortunately, Mr Rudall’s talk was brought to an early finish thanks to a fire alarm but despite the premature close to proceedings the day was hailed as another success for the Institute and its growing list of membership.

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Author and Photography courtesy of: RPA Photography

The content of this article represents the personal views of the author and nothing is to be taken as representing the views, opinions, policy or position of any other persons or organisations mentioned herein or of The Institute of Demolition Engineers