This year MGF completed 35 years of trading as a specialist supplier of temporary works solutions using modular excavation support systems.
A lot has changed in 35 years making this an appropriate time to reflect.
First and foremost, as Heath & Safety Executive records show, construction deaths have significantly reduced.
It is hard to believe that back in 1981/82, 116 construction workers were killed working on projects around the UK.
Contrast this with the first half of 2016/17 when, sadly, 9 deaths were recorded.
That figure is still unacceptable, but it demonstrates the focus, care and attention our industry now dedicates to putting safety first.
In 1981 temporary works designs were extremely rare despite numerous high profile disasters in the industry.
I can remember starting at university that year, and a few years later as a graduate engineer, being given the “menial” task of preparing temporary works designs with minimal supervision.
Thank goodness for the simple-to-use BS 449 and BSC Piling Handbook.
Today we employ 30 full-time temporary works design engineers and provide over 4,500 temporary works designs per year.
Oh, and of course the design standards, processes and software have also moved on significantly.
There is very little difference now in the approaches to permanent and temporary works designs.
Temporary works enjoys a high profile within the industry and continues to attract graduates of the highest calibre.
Back in 1981 the UK was starting to import steel trench boxes from Germany and UK companies were starting to develop hydraulic bracing systems. Peculiarly, the Germans have never favoured the use of hydraulics.
The products were very much in demand from specialist groundworks contractors who needed the products purely for constructability - to prevent earth collapsing into excavations.
Safety was just an added bonus. Today the UK offers the most advanced and widest range of modular shoring systems in the world. Anything from massive 46m long 250t hydraulic struts with built-in load monitoring to GRP trench systems that can be installed and removed by hand.
We’ve got a lot to be proud of.
Here’s to a continuing improvement in the health and safety stats.
● Steve Hesketh is MGF’s engineering director
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