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Skills doubts threaten HSE's buildability plan

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FEARS EMERGED this week that efforts to improve buildability in the construction industry by creating senior level 'planning co-ordinators' will fail because of a lack of skilled engineers to take up the role.

The Health & Safety Executive wants to introduce planning co-ordinators into design teams to ensure designs match client aspirations and contractor construction methods.

The role supersedes that of planning supervisors in revisions to the Construction (Design & Management) regulations, currently out for consultation (NCE 12 May).

But experts from across the project cycle this week expressed concern that insufficient skills exist to fill the new role.

'The industry needs the coordinator to be a very different animal and even the best of us will have to raise our game.

Some of us will have to think about whether we are cut out to be in this business, ' said Atkins safety manager Andrew Stevens, speaking at NCE's The Future of CDM conference.

To advise effectively on buildability and maintainability the co-ordinator would need to be involved in the design process at a much earlier stage than the planning supervisor and take a much more senior role.

'The co-ordinator will add cost so it must also add value.

We will need higher calibre people to fill the co-ordinator role and employers will need to provide incentives, ' said Stevens.

HSE head of construction Steven Wright said it was important that people with appropriate skills take on the new role.

'We do need to eliminate the obviously incompetent. We could insist on APS (Association for Project Safety) or ICE membership. We do feel that the interview process is one of the best ways to ensure that the person leading has the right approach, ' he said.

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