When does construction have a negative impact?

People with disabilities, parents with children, the elderly are affected far too often by the construction work that overflows onto pavements or digs up our roads. We need to rethink site management and project planning to minimise the impact and disruption of the lives of communities around building work in Wales

We often refer to construction as the great enabler. It is at the root of great healthcare, schools, homes, our urban environment, place of work and how we get about.

But the construction process itself can have a negative impact on people and communities – particularly the disabled, disadvantaged and people and groups that many of us take for granted. That’s why we invited Michael Barratt of TfL to talk to us at an Improving Site Behaviours through Construction Logistics CPD event in early July.

We focused on the effect poor construction management, logistics and site behaviours can have on what is often an invisible community and there was a lot of discussion around the barriers to access caused by poor planning and implementation of works.

Michael has done a series of these events and runs site visits and walk throughs to share lessons in a real-life context. Last week he conducted an event with a group of contractors and suppliers and through active experience, working closely with people with learning disabilities they saw for themselves the barriers to access some people experience on a daily basis focus as a result of roadworks and construction.

The workshop began with a presentation showing some of the issues caused by a lack of consideration with traffic management design for people who have visibility and mobility impairments e.g. accessing kerbs with or without ramps, footway obstructions, diversions due to closures etc. They then looked at traffic signs with busy text. Once completed, back to the office to discuss the day’s activities and findings.

CEWales is planning a Welsh constructors visit to a site to make our own observations, see for ourselves what the impact is on those with disabilities and compare the lessons learned from London's development highway interventions.

One thing will be obvious and that needs challenging – guidebooks, rules and protocols only go so far. They don’t have all the answers. It is vital to engage with people that are more likely to be affected by the work that construction delivers – that’s the way to end up with the best possible outcomes for everyone.

The session with Michael Barratt was recorded and is available by contacting info@cewales.org.uk.