Even Storm Doris couldn’t stop the recent Institute of Demolition Engineers Spring Seminar from being yet another resounding success. Returning to the excellent Royal Armouries venue saw the event overseen by new IDE President David Darsey.

The IDE Seminars are very quickly getting a reputation for hosting some excellent and very interesting speakers and this year was no exception. Opening up the day’s proceedings, David Darsey thanked everyone for attending and for contributing to a raffle at the event which raised £790.00 for the President’s chosen charity, Helen Allison School – The National Autistic Society. David Darsey will donate £210.00 to achieve a nice round number of £1000.00.  Thanks to everyone that bought a ticket! 

Anna Mason, Founder and Director of the Healthy Employee was first to take to the stage to ask for “volunteers” to take part in an anonymous survey of how healthy we are. Taking weight, body and muscle mass measurements from a number of delegates, Ms Mason would later return to the stage to report on her findings.

One of the largest and complex demolition jobs over the last few years has been Keltbray Ltd’s Earls Court project. Operations Director Jim O’Sullivan and Technical Manager Dave Rowe were on hand to describe the innovative and technically challenging methods involved in removing some of the largest and heaviest concrete beams found on a UK demolition site utilising the services of one of the World’s largest cranes. Working in close proximity to London Underground and Overground train services the team worked to limited time slots to remove structures without hindering the running of train services.

Due to being incapacitated with a broken leg, NBS’ Stefan Mordue was replaced by his colleague Phil Simpson to speak about BIM in deconstruction works. The last decade has seen the implementation of BIM, Building Information Modelling, throughout the construction industry with the technology now only being adopted to aid the demolition industry. Ending the morning session was AR Demolition’s Richard Dolman speaking about the launch of the new Demolition Safety Forum which has been launched in response to the industry’s lack of sharing information regarding incidents. Mr Dolman explained that the need to learn and share information regarding near misses and incidents as it is all too often covered up. The Forum will be constantly monitored to ensure that it stays focussed on informative information sharing and not a place for disgruntled employees.  

The second morning session commenced with the legendary Dick Green describing one of his recent contracts in South Africa with Jet Demolition. As with any of Dick’s presentations, the informative yet funny speech had the crowd in fits of laughter. Having spent many years undertaking complex blow-downs, Green was asked to undertake this particular tricky project which lay under 5m away from neighbouring buildings. The 15-story HG DeWitt building in Pretoria had an added difficulty with the building being cantilevered to both gables. The complex installation of over 60 cables to ensure the building fell into itself when the 530 electronic detonators fired. Erith’s Grant Styles rounded off the morning session with a detailed look at their recent project at Farringdon Road in the City of London for Goldman Sachs. The 8500m2 project involved a detailed security system with over 60 camera positions and a constant security presence around the clock. The immense scaffolding project was handed to two different contractors to negate any possible time issues due to the massive amount of work being involved. Erith also worked closely with TfL to reduce the impact of works on the already busy streets by turning a bus lane into a loading area, using a basement for loading demolition arisings and altering bell-mouths on junctions to prevent damage. Such was the professionalism and expertise shown by Erith during the contract they were duly awarded a Gold Considerate Constructors Scheme award and were ranked amongst the top 5 construction sites in London.

 The afternoon session, chaired by IDE Vice President Gary Bishop, kicked off with an NFDC and IDE double act in the shape of NFDC CEO Howard Button and Immediate Past President of the IDE Duncan Rudall advising of the forthcoming changes to the CCDO and CCDO +Plant card schemes along with the push towards Smart Card technology and the benefits it will bring to the industry. The contentious subject of monitoring of airborne fibres was brought to the stage with SMH Group’s Chris Donne. Harley Scientific, part of SMH Group has recently launched the wearable FibreCheck HS-FC6 monitoring device. Although it will detect the presence of the smallest of fibres, it is not accepted as a replacement for traditional sampling methods currently undertaken in the UK. The FibreCheck can examine 20 times more air than conventional membrane filter tests reaching the same level of statistical significance in 1/10th of the time. Returning to the stage with some surprising test results, Anna Mason spoke about the need for workers to enjoy a healthy and well balanced diet. The results from the few who participated showed a great need for both the industry and the wider population to eat healthier and exercise more. Commenting on the widespread use of sugar in products, the delegates were surprised to see the actual amounts in certain foods. Ms Mason spoke about the benefits to employers in ensuring employees try and eat as healthily as possible with dehydration, sluggishness and lack of response being amongst the top causes of accidents on site. It is not only healthy eating that is needed to keep people in top form, many people in the theatre were taken aback at the need to undertake at least 2.5 hours per week of physical exercise with at least two sessions of muscle building exercise.  

With the sobering thoughts from Anna Mason ringing in many ears, the day’s proceedings were closed by Gary Bishop setting a date for the Scottish Seminar on 7/7/2017 and the Autumn Seminar at One Great George Street. London for the 29/9/2017.