New telephone pod brings peace of mind

In response to the trend for enclosed private areas that facilitate individual headspace and support increased focus and privacy in the workplace, Boss Design has widened its popular range of telephone pods to include TP4.

TP4 provides a much-needed place to concentrate and deliberate, and is ergonomically a better solution for short-term periods of focused work. Incorporating an integral shelving option, this latest pod provides the ideal area to make private calls and encourages creative and individual working – all vital for a more productive working environment.

Commenting on this latest addition, Sales Director, Oliver Ronald, says: “Lack of privacy and noise are two of the biggest gripes of the open plan office. Our popular range of telephone pods not only help eliminate distractions, they are designed to meet the needs of the multi- workplace.

“TP4 goes one step further in providing the perfect getaway space to ‘drop in’ to or make a private call, by offering a short-term solution to focused working that many offices can’t provide. It also leaves meeting rooms free for larger groups that need the space,” adds Oliver.

TP4 is PIR operated, featuring single LED down lights, LED extrusion in the square tile and LED sheet tiling – enabling the whole panel to be illuminated – to support close, accurate working. Exterior wooden cladding options, together with an extensive choice of fabric bands and white, red and green occupancy lighting, all contribute to the optimum look and feel of this model. Furthermore, the pod may be personalised to suit individual business needs and branding.

Alongside TP4, Boss Design offers three other telephone pods. Whilst TP1 provides the perfect getaway space and offers the ideal solution for individual privacy, TP2 comes complete with a shelving area to place working or personal items, and is perfect for short periods of headspace. TP3 incorporates all of these features with the added option of personalising the space with branding or other designs.

Boss Design: +44 (0) 1384 455570 Boss Design London Showroom: +44 (0) 20 7253 0364


The air that I breathe

Dave Carson from P-Wave says that although washrooms play an essential part in our health, comfort and wellbeing, all too often they fail to reach the required standards; but it doesn’t have to be that way.

The Hollies, and later Simply Red – though we won’t talk about that – had a hit containing the lyric “Sometimes, all I need is the air that I breathe…”. I’ll be honest and admit I’m pretty sure they weren’t talking to about washrooms, but you could be forgiven for thinking they may have been given the unpleasant aromas that envelop all too many of these facilities. Sometimes visitors really are left gasping for breath after taking a ‘comfort’ break.

A facility’s washroom is rarely neglected – and often there will be inspection records or even customer feedback buttons to prove it – but unfortunately they often look and smell like they are a low priority to the buildings management. Even with high specification fixtures and fittings and regular cleaning, the overriding impression can be of an unpleasant pong, making a visit a less than favourable experience.

The power of smell

It is a very subjective topic, but many believe smell to be the most powerful of our senses. Whether that’s true is for better minds than mine to decide, but smell certainly plays an important part in our lives, whether evoking memories or warning of danger. When you are exposed to a bad smell you certainly know about it. This makes getting the washroom experience right vital to the overall impression of your building. Even if facilities are cleaned regularly, a bad smell will give the opposite impression, so the last thing you want to leave people with is a lasting memory of an unpleasant smell.

Given the disproportionate amount of a facilities manager’s time and effort washrooms involve, it’s no wonder that there are many hundreds of products on the market looking to resolve the issue. However, unfortunately many air freshening options just don’t live up to their inventively scented names or last the distance. The right products can beat the smell over a sustained period of time, tackle odour causing bacteria and reduce maintenance issues, such as blocked drains.

Five hints to help tackle nuisance odours

  1. Air fresheners

Perhaps an obvious option when taking on bad smells, but get the right one and it really will improve the atmosphere in your washrooms. Look for products containing strong, pleasant fragrances that can effectively mask bad odours. These can make an immediate and long-lasting improvement. Users should feel welcomed by the scent rather than repelled by an unpleasant stench. As well as whole room air fresheners, look for washroom specific products like toilet bowl clips and urinal fresheners.

  1. Everything in its place

The main cause of bad smells in the washroom is bacteria from urine in drains or splashback on the floor. Once the only way to tackle this was to drop a scented blue block into urinals and hope for the best. However, with new products 95% of splash back can be prevented thanks to new protrusions on urinal and trough screens.

This keeps urine off the floor and grouting where it would soak in and cause a bad smell, even with regular cleaning.

  1. Keep the pipes clear

Debris such as discarded bits of chewing gum or tissue can cause blockages in pipes resulting in slow flowing water or worse blockages and overflows. These can be minimised by choosing urinal or trough screens which can trap this sort of material and stop it getting into the drains.

  1. Get additional help

It’s not just the cleaners who help reduce the smells in washrooms, products which include the right enzymes – or odour controlling ‘good’ bacteria – can help eliminate malodourous ‘bad’ bacteria which feeds on urine. Cutting out the smell at source in this way is far more effective and environmentally friendly using an array of harsh chemicals.

Reduced chemical use has many advantages, not least from a health and safety point of view as there is less danger of spillage.

  1. You get what you pay for

It’s easy to think all products are the same, or that it’s not worth investing in washroom products. I think it’s worth paying that bit extra for quality as it can soon bring its rewards. For example, the best urinal screens will combine a strong air freshener, with splash back control and odour tackling enzymes; removing the need to buy separate products. Top quality products can last a month resulting in cost savings in the longer term and reducing the time spent cleaning the washroom and purchasing products.

…And to love you

Washrooms are crucial in maintaining building users’ health and wellbeing, especially through hand washing. However, a bad smell can put people off using them, or staying long enough to wash their hands properly – with the result that germs are more likely to be spread throughout a facility, with a likely impact on sickness and absenteeism.

The second part of the song lyric mentioned earlier is, of course, ‘…and to love you’. Now I’m not saying a better smelling washroom will make your visitors and staff fall in love with you, but by providing hygienic and lasting solutions, you and your building could certainly go up in their estimation!


Surge in electro-mechanical hardware makes ongoing FM training more important than ever


Allegion UK Commercial Leader Pete Hancox suggests that facilities management training needs to keep pace with rapidly developing building technologies for building and occupant wellbeing.

In the UK, the staff who manage our facilities can come from all walks of life. Ask any facilities manager about how they got into the trade, and then go and ask another, and you will more than likely get two different answers.

Why is this? Traditionally, people in the Facilities Management sector have often ‘fallen into’ the industry, explained the FMJ (Facilities Management Journal) in their ‘From the tools: The Making of the Manager?’ feature (March 2017). Our facilities managers could have worked their way up from frontline positions such as cleaning, catering, engineering or security. Increasingly, we can also see academic graduates choosing facilities management roles, too.

To become a facilities manager, the UK’s National Careers Service website simply states that “there are no set requirements, but you’ll usually need a qualification in facilities management.” Once you become a facilities manager, bodies like the British Institute of Facilities Management and Royal Institute of British Architects can provide training and CPD courses, but it is all optional to development – there is no legal requirement to train.

This is in stark contrast to other professions where wellbeing is concerned. Take gas engineers, for instance. Gas engineers in the UK, according to a leading jobs website,, must have relevant qualifications, usually an NVQ Level 3 in Gas Installation, and also be Gas Safe registered. Apprenticeship is a common route for attaining a gas engineer position, too.

Of course, diversity in our industry is welcome, and diversity is known to bring outside-of-the-box solutions. However when we start comparing the two professions, we can start to see how gas engineers will be ‘singing from the same hymn sheet,’ whereas our facilities managers could be working from all manner of different pages.

For the future of facilities management, this very diversity could potentially be harming our buildings, and our occupants’ wellbeing, as opposed to aiding them. We could be creating an environment where knowledge levels, procedures, best practices and the way building hardware solutions are selected is all different and varied.

While it could be years before we reach a standardised route similar to that of gas engineers, we should at least be encouraging our facilities managers to complete ongoing training, particularly to keep pace with daily developments.

The Electro-Mechanical Game Changer

 We are now coming to a stage in the door hardware industry where development is rapidly overtaking existing knowledge. Electro-mechanical ‘smart’ hardware means the ability to unlock doors from phones, control access to secure areas and remotely lockdown, these are all functions that would be greatly beneficial in any facility manager’s life.

Fully integrated building solutions and biometrics are also becoming more readily available and affordable, so that we can give our facilities managers greater control over their buildings, as well as scalability for the future.

Choosing the right solution is a lot more difficult though, one which requires a comprehensive analysis of the building, the users, the ongoing maintenance and the ability to upscale or upgrade in future.

Ongoing training is crucial in this respect. Without a proper understanding of the technology, it can be quite easy to make a decision that is not beneficial to the long term sustainability of the building. For the facilities management team, it can eventually lead back to compromising health and safety.

A case in point happened as recently as 2016, when a fire door in a hospital that was fitted with a self-closing device shut on an elderly patient, causing injury. Unfortunately, this injury contributed to that patient’s death. Intended to be an aid for the door, it has instead caused accident and a tragedy.

After the case, the Department of Health suggested that risk assessments should be carried out on all fire door closing devices to assess appropriate closing times, taking into account the occupancy of the building. For facilities managers who are ‘self-taught’ and have little knowledge in these electro-magnetic devices and risk assessments, we can immediately see how ongoing training in this area will benefit them.

 The impact on health and safety compliance

 Without question, the role of the facilities manager is to guarantee the health and safety of occupants, and there are strict guidelines and classifications to door hardware that must be met.

However, the varying level and difference in understanding of door hardware leads to different ideas between the supply chain. Architects strive for the aesthetic; facilities managers must comply with health and safety regulations but also meet budgets; installers and contractors look for products that are retrofit, or quick and easy to install, and choice of hardware becomes based on those factors.

As a result, while compliance standards can be met, these competing forces mean the solution or hardware that is chosen may not be best for the users.

Fire doors are another area that require debate and thought. Heavy in nature, but a necessity to fire safety, they can become dangerous when the hardware used with them does not facilitate easy passage or use. Primary school children may not have the strength to push open doors, while in care homes, mobility and escape in a fire situation becomes an issue.

The easy, perhaps even cost-effective, option would be to select a manual fire door closer, compliant to the weight of the fire door. However, we would advise in these situations to help those building occupants by choosing an electromagnetic door closer instead that is linked to the fire alarm system. In this way, you can legally hold open fire doors, aid daily passage and use, reduce wear and tear and still stay within compliance.

Another case where an electromechanical device could potentially have prevented injury occurred in 2015, where a mother claims her five-year-old daughter lost part of her finger in a fire door at school after being left unsupervised.

Margaret Chan’s daughter got her finger caught in the heavy fire door at Cuddington Croft Primary School in Cheam, Surrey. The incident is claimed to have occurred after the child was left unattended after being “sent back into the school building toilet alone unsupervised via a classroom where there are two fire doors”, said Margaret. The school could not tell the mother what had happened, as the incident was ‘unwitnessed’ (Daily Mail, 2015).

Short-term costs, long-term gains

As with all training, there is an associated cost. It can be hard to see past this cost if benefits are viewed as minimal or not even applicable to current situations. In facilities management, it is even harder to see why we need training in disciplines such as biometrics or computer-aided systems, when traditionally these applications have only been used in select, sensitive buildings.

However, we as manufacturers are constantly exploring technology that can enhance door hardware capabilities and the customer experience, simply because it is our duty to continue innovating for the better. Technologically enhanced door hardware will soon be more accepted as the norm as we become accustomed to the benefits it offers, as well as if costs on such hardware continues to fall.

Therefore, if we do not encourage our facilities managers to train, in the end we are ultimately costing more to our buildings, and to the welfare of our occupants, than the initial outlay of training may be suggesting.


Dura Cladding Helps New Landmark Development at Rushden Lakes Achieve its Sustainability Goals

Composite Timber Dura Cladding has been chosen for an exciting new retail, leisure and tourism destination in the Nene Valley. The Rushden Lakes site near Northampton is due to open this month and is the largest out-of-town scheme of its kind in a decade.

HPW Architecture led the design and development of the masterplan for the project, which is set in an area of outstanding natural beauty and centres around restoring public access to a network of lakes, as well as offering unrivalled shopping and leisure facilities.

As the development is situated adjacent to a Site of Special Scientific Interest and is a designated nature reserve, it was critical that both the design and construction processes embraced the challenges and opportunities provided by the unique setting. In consultation with the Wildlife Trust and Natural England, HPW designed three net-zero energy buildings (NZEBs), which are clad in Dura Cladding from Dura Composites. Dura Cladding is made from high performance composite timber and is a sustainable alternative to traditional timber made from recycled materials. Dura Cladding is also 100% Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) Certified and offers superb low maintenance properties as well as an attractive finish that looks just like natural wood but doesn’t ever require treating, painting or staining.

The net-zero energy buildings comprise of the Boathouse, Wildlife Trust Visitors Centre and the Management Office which are distinguished from other buildings in the development through the use of Dura Cladding Type 150 Flush in Cedar colour. All three buildings are super-insulated with all required energy for operation generated on-site to keep running costs to a minimum.

The anchor retail buildings on the terraces including House of Fraser have been part clad in Dura Cladding Type 150 Flush in Grey to provide a contrasting finish whilst retaining the aesthetic look, durability, UV performance and sustainable credentials that the developers were looking for.

Commenting on the project, Gary Wilburn, director of design and sustainability for HPW said: “This is a unique project and one which we have been delighted to have been involved in right from the concept stage 8 years ago. At HPW we specialise in projects like this where wildlife and the natural surroundings are a key part of the design, and we’re really pleased with the role that the Dura Cladding in both Cedar and Grey have played in helping us maintain that ethos. With a project on this scale it’s important to ensure that the resulting development delivers on all of its promises and the recycled properties of Dura Cladding, together with its FSC® status have helped us to meet our overall sustainability goals. The low-maintenance benefits of a composite timber cladding combined with the peace of mind provided by the product warranty have contributed towards a genuine legacy for future generations of which we are very proud.”

The first phase of the Rushden Lakes development is due to open in July and will be followed by phase two of the scheme, which includes additional shops, restaurants and a 14-screen cinema.

Dura Cladding is available to purchase now through International Timber and selected Jewson branches. The products come in 3 widths and 5 attractive colours and appeals to architects, builders, contractors and commercial property developers looking for an aesthetically pleasing, hard-wearing and low maintenance way to finish the exterior of both new and refurbished buildings.

For more information about Dura Composites, visit the website at 

For more information on HPW Architecture, please visit the website at and to view the latest video of the development visit


Cleaning & Hygiene

Cleanline is an exclusive brand of professional cleaning products and systems from Bunzl Catering Supplies, manufactured in the UK and designed specifically for the catering and hospitality industry.

BFM interviewed Rod Hale, National Account Manager Exclusive Brands, Bunzl Catering Supplies:

What does a venue’s hygiene say about it to customers?

People often judge the quality of an establishment by its cleanliness, and no more so than in the washroom area. Toilets and urinals should be spotless and fresh. For toilets we recommend Cleanline acid lime scale remover as it can be used in hard water areas. All urinals need urinal blocks because they act continuously to clean and fragrance.

Which are the most important parts of a venue to be kept clean – bedrooms, toilets, kitchen, etc.?

It’s a fact that commercial kitchens can get very dirty. Surfaces need to be regularly cleaned and sanitised, equipment needs to be washed so it’s free from contamination and floors need to be clean and dry to prevent slippages. Throughout the shift, after the shift, end of the day, weekly, monthly and annual cleaning tasks should be structured and highlighted to your staff, so they are aware of their responsibilities and when tasks need completing. Some cleaning jobs should be done several times a day, while others need to only be done weekly or monthly. Regular cleaning of your kitchen is essential for food safety and can help reduce food waste, lowering overall menu costs.

The new Cleanline colour-coded professional kitchen kit makes two-stage cleaning in the kitchen simpler and more cost-effective for catering and hospitality businesses of all sizes.

How important is staff training when it comes to hygiene? Is it worth hiring professional cleaners to do the work?

Good practical training is a major factor in getting the best out of cleaning products.  If new starters are not shown exactly what to do as soon as they start, then they will simply do what they think is best and quickly establish a routine of bad practices. On the first day, new employees would benefit from a visit to the cleaning store with an explanation of what each product is for, followed by an overview of the daily cleaning regime.

What technological advances have been made in the hygiene world in recent months? What effect have they had?

The Cleanline COSHH training and product resource e-learning website is available to help employees use cleaning products safely, and in a manner compliant with Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH). It does this by providing free COSHH awareness training through a selection of videos and multiple-choice questions, and can be completed online in under 15 minutes. Successful completion of the training is automatically flagged to a customer administrator, who can access and download user reports via the Admin tab. Perfect for regular COSHH awareness training or completed as part of an induction; new starters can be COSHH aware even before stepping on site.

What advice would you offer to operators looking to keep their venues clean?

  • Choose your chemical supplier carefully
    Many chemical suppliers include a comprehensive support package in the price of their products. This can be made up of practical training, COSHH training, maintenance visits, emergency call outs, wall charts and dispensing equipment. Make sure you’re getting the best value for money.
  • Safety Data Sheets
    Make sure you have one for every cleaning product in use and that everybody knows where they are kept in case there’s an emergency.
  • Use colour coded cleaning products
    With over one hundred languages spoken in the British workplace today, it is impossible to have so many written instructions for using cleaning products. Liquid cleaning products that are the same colour as their labels, dispensers and wall chart references are universally understood.
  • Use concentrated products
    Mixing concentrated products with water on site with a chemical dispenser is not only the most cost effective way of cleaning, it is also greener than using domestic type ready-to-use products. Constant re-use of trigger sprays means less plastic for landfill, less transportation, fewer fossil fuels used and a smaller carbon footprint.
    Super concentrated cleaning products in the Cleanline Super range are diluted through wall-mounted dosing systems for ultimate control and measurable cost in use. Diluted at point of use, super concentrate products use reduced packaging waste, take up less space on a vehicle, reducing the impact on the environment.
  • Make sure your products are at the correct strength
    It’s a common myth that a stronger product does a better job, but with an alkali based floor cleaner for example, too strong a solution will leave an unsightly white deposit. Use the right items to apply the products with; if you use a damp cloth to apply glass polish it will result in visible smudges – clean, dry disposable paper is best.
  • Ensure that the FSA’s Two Stage Clean advice is understood and enacted
    The Food Standards Agency’s Two Stage Clean guidelines are clear: Stage 1 is cleaning food preparation surfaces. Stage 2 is sanitising those surfaces. Train your staff to carry out two distinct and separate jobs.
  • Water Softener
    It easy to forget to maintain this vital piece of equipment. Make sure that replenishing it with salt is part of the routine and get it serviced regularly. Hard water leads to tannin staining, poor results and wrecks expensive dishwashers.
  • Allocate routine cleaning tasks to individuals
    If individuals have ownership of specific tasks, personal pride and accountability increase the likelihood of a good job being completed.

Innovative In-Situ Office Server Cooling Solution from British engineers.

Without air-conditioned rooms, keeping servers cool on-site in office and business environments is a challenge. Now a British engineering company has developed an innovative energy-efficient temperature control solution called Maxi-Cool for office-based servers. The compact Maxi-Cool system comprises an attractive floor-standing rack cabinet featuring an integrated intelligent refrigeration module to provide highly effective thermal management for servers mounted within.

The Maxi-Cool product is available in a variety of sizes to accommodate single or small numbers of servers in its rack-mount form factor. Maxi-Cool cabinets can be supplied colour-coded to match an organisation’s corporate branding or office décor. One key advantage on offer to businesses looking to cool their servers to safeguard company data is the ease of installation. Maxi-Cool cabinets are simply wheeled into place, the servers installed in the rack space as usual, and the unit plugged into a 13-amp mains socket. Such cost-effective server cooling, typically delivering temperature reductions of up to 20°C with a thermal power capacity of 4kW, is unachievable in any other way.

“Local server installations are popular among small and medium sized firms, where on-site information storage and direct access is preferred for reasons of data sensitivity and security,” explains Maxi-Cool MD and Chief Designer James Garson. “Even where server performance is mission-critical, few businesses can justify the cost and disruption of building a dedicated air-conditioned server room. That’s why we designed Maxi-Cool – to deliver a straightforward solution to a widespread problem.”

Maxi-Cool units are also finding favour in shared office facilities and among professional firms like lawyers and banks who often occupy listed or heritage buildings. “In such sensitive premises, air conditioning plant cannot be installed,” Garson explains. “Maxi-Cool cabinets can provide these businesses with an immediate and effective thermal management option at a fraction of the cost,” he adds.

Aside from the simplicity of installation and low cost, Maxi-Cool cabinets offer distinct commercial advantages over dedicated server rooms. The low-power units operate from a single 230V mains supply, can be easily repositioned on castors if required, are whisper-quiet at just 65db, take up just one square metre of floorspace – and require no structural changes to walls or buildings. In addition, expansion is simply a case of adding another Maxi-Cool cabinet. Smaller Maxi-Cool cabinet configurations are designed expressly to fit in confined spaces.

Maxi-Cool cabinets meet the technical specifications and thermal gradient guidelines issued by global trade body ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) for server cooling applications.

More information available at


Roof warranties: Seeing the big picture in the small print

 John Hynes, Head of Safe Access at Fixfast, considers how taking a closer look at roof system warranties could unlock more value for building owners and managers.

On average, a commercial roof lasts 20 to 30 years and typically accounts for 5% of initial build cost. For building owners, the return on investment from this important long-term asset can vary significantly depending on how it is managed over its lifetime.

The total ROI from a roof is determined by a number of factors. Of course, the quality of the design and construction of the roof itself is key. But life-cycle costs like its energy performance, durability, maintenance and repair requirements can account for five times the up-front capital expenditure. So, building owners and managers should be including the roof in any ongoing strategies for minimising the total cost of ownership of the building.

But that’s not always the case. It seems, when it comes to roofs, out of sight often means out of mind. Aided, in no small part, by the warranties given by roof system manufacturers and installers. Just as they’re intended to, these warranties are giving peace of mind to owners in terms of the upkeep required to the roof.

This means too many building owners, and the managers they employ, are underestimating their responsibilities for maintaining and repairing their roofs. There is a common misconception that long-term warranties, while potentially very valuable, are insurance policies that cover virtually any roofing problem, regardless of cause or circumstance. But the small print on the vast majority of these guarantees tells a different story. Once signed, warranties actually commit owners to carry out regular inspections and maintenance to their roofs. Not doing so invalidates these agreements and exposes the owner to potentially much higher costs in the event of failure of the roof system.

So what should facilities executives be doing to preserve the cover within their warranties and prolong the useful life of their roof?

Firstly, the detailed specifications of any warranties held should be checked. Most stipulate, as a minimum; annual inspections, prompt repairs if defects are found, that debris is removed on a regular basis, any coatings are periodically maintained – and that good records of all this are kept. If there’s no hard evidence that the roof has been maintained, making an irrefutable case when claiming against the warranty becomes very difficult.

A preventive and routine maintenance programme should be designed around these specifications. As well as meeting the obligations within warranties, preventative maintenance enables owners to identify and remedy problems before they escalate in severity and cost. In fact, implementing a proactive maintenance programme should be seen as an opportunity to unlock the roof’s full value. Studies have shown that by carrying out planned repairs as opposed to emergency repairs, the expected life of the roof nearly doubles and maintenance costs can be halved over its lifetime.

Any roof inspection should look at the roof, of course, but also the associated fixings and fabrications. Weaknesses in the integrity of the overall roof structure are usually found at junctions, joins and where equipment has been installed. So the facilities manager should also consider developing a roof plan that maps all this equipment, and the locations of any prior leaks or repairs, to aid inspection.

Lastly, carrying out these inspections and any resulting maintenance should be made as easy and cost effective as possible. The facilities manager’s aim should be to encourage adherence to warranty conditions by removing any barriers to frequent inspection. Installing permanent height safety and safe access equipment is a good way to do this, as they allow in-house maintenance personnel to carry out inspections. Modular access ladders and rooftop guardrails minimise the need for temporary access systems like cherry pickers, and the use of specialist contractors – both of which require more involved planning and greater cost. So it makes sense to consider permanent safe access provision as part of the design brief for a new building or extension, or when refurbishments of older buildings are being scoped. In either of these instances, specialist fall protection suppliers can offer facilities managers useful guidance on the specific access and safety requirements of their building.

While easier access has been found to promote more frequent rooftop maintenance, there is another very good reason for building managers to take a considered approach to maintenance and access; preserving the safety of the employees, site visitors and contractors working at height. Indeed, statistics from the Health & Safety Executive show that, in 2015/2016, there were over 37,000 falls from height in the UK, resulting in 6,500 injuries – 37 of these were fatal.

So, as the expression goes; ‘a stitch in time saves nine’. For building owners and managers looking to maximise ROI, protect valuable warranties and minimise lifetime costs, it is wise to take a well-planned approach to managing their roof that works over the long term.


Playing with Risk – The Case for Digital Mobile Radio

Research reveals just one-in-five FM managers have ‘full confidence’ in their communication systems when it comes to keeping workers and visitors safe

From ensuring day-to-day operations run like clockwork to making certain that the safety staff and facility visitors are not compromised in the event of an emergency, the strategic priorities that face today’s facility professionals are many and varied.

Top of the list of responsibilities is an ever present need to put in place systems and processes to ensure workers stay safe at all times. And that means being able to depend on reliable two-way communications that make it possible to monitor employee wellbeing as they go about daily tasks – or respond fast to incidents and emergencies.

But, as the findings of a recent survey by innovative two-way radio manufacturer Hytera show, many UK businesses admit to struggling with inadequate systems that make it difficult to guarantee instant communication at all times.

Even more worryingly, one-in-four employees lacked any safety-critical communications at all, while 54% of employees were left working alone in hazardous conditions or remote locations without Lone Worker support.

Mobile phones prove unreliable and costly

Nearly 82% of survey participants confirmed that workers in their organisation were heavily reliant on mobile phones as their primary communication system in the field. Yet many acknowledged this dependency was not best suited to ensuring worker safety.

Poor or unreliable mobile coverage was identified as a primary issue. In the event of an outage, 28% of respondents either had no contingency plan or were reliant on workers somehow finding an alternative signal in order to resume communications. Little wonder that just 21% of all respondents had full confidence in their communications system when it came to assuring worker safety.

Alongside poor mobile coverage, concerns were also raised that mobile phones acted as a potential distraction for workers and also represented an unnecessary additional cost burden to the business.

Worker safety at risk of compromise

The survey findings also highlight how many UK organisations put workers at risk of being unable to instantly alert colleagues should an incident arise.

In the event of an emergency, less than one-third (31%) offered workers Lone Worker alert technology, either within a two-way radio or a separate device. And while under half (42%) of the organisations surveyed had provided workers with analogue or digital two-way radio handsets, in the majority of instances these were primarily being used in a traditional radio-to-radio manner for simple voice communications.

Of those organisations using two-way radios, less than half (43%) said workers were able to take advantage of a dedicated Emergency Button or Priority Communication Channel in the event of an incident, while just 25% were protected by automatic ‘Man Down’ features. Just 22% were using GPS tracking to monitor the movements of personnel to protect them whilst in the field.

These findings indicate that organisations either don’t have the appropriate advanced worker safety functionality within their two-way radios, or are failing to take advantage of the full capabilities on offer.

This was despite the fact that 60% of organisations said that radio users were operating hazardous machinery, 53% were working at height, and 40% were public-facing.

The case for next-generation digital mobile radio (DMR)

Survey participants had workforces that operate in a diverse variety of environments, including remote, noisy or inherently hazardous locations. For some workers, lone working was a standard feature of their day-to-day activities; for others, interaction with members of the public was a regular requirement.

Protecting employees at work was a priority for the organisations surveyed. Yet many appear to be struggling with the challenge of providing staff with reliable coverage across sites or to maintain the continuous information flows required to keep people both productive and safe.

Despite the plethora of communication tools in use, organisations admitted to being fearful they can’t guarantee employees would be able to communicate fast in the event of an incident or emergency. Indeed, only one-in-five businesses claimed to have ‘full confidence’ in their communication systems, and less than a third offer employees dedicated Lone Worker communication features – Man Down, Group Call and Emergency buttons – that would inform colleagues where they are, when they are alone or when they are in trouble.

Today’s advanced DMR radio systems can significantly improve an organisation’s communications capability and responsiveness, delivering real-time location awareness of all users, emergency prioritisation and pre-determined alerts and all important Lone Worker or Man Down functionality that deliver a user’s location with pinpoint GPS accuracy via their handsets. All of which would enable senior facilities professionals to gain greater oversight over health and safety responsibilities.

To view the full research and to find out how Hytera can help you develop a communications system to fulfill your requirements visit


Modular building cuts rail construction costs

Within five years, over half of all construction projects will be built offsite[1]. Far from being a lesser alternative to traditional methods, the high-quality of modular construction is now so integrated into UK construction that it is difficult to single out which buildings have been built using traditional or modular methods.

At UK rail stations, modules are the new ‘bricks and mortar’, with Oxford Railway Station being just one example. Matthew Goff, director of UK operations at Actavo | Building Solutions, explains how rail can cut construction costs:

Great British rail in the 21st century

By 2025, the global construction market is predicted to grow by over 70% and the UK needs to fight for its fair share of that growth.

When the government launched Construction 2025 – a joint strategy which sets out how the construction industry and government will work together to put the UK at the forefront of global construction – it did so with ambitious targets.

Stating that by 2025, the construction industry needs to cut both its initial and whole-life costs of built assets by 33%, it also says construction needs to be 50% faster, deliver 50% lower carbon emissions and reduce the trade gap between total exports and imports by 50%.

The £56bn, High Speed 2 (HS2) puts UK construction well on our way to becoming the global leader in the rail sector.

Offsite building methods fits well with rail construction

Manufacturers’ investments in the research and development of modular buildings started to pay back some years ago. They have brought world-class buildings to the UK’s rail industry which are not only higher in their environmental performance than a traditional build, but can also be as aesthetically pleasing.

Offsite construction offers numerous benefits to the rail sector; new stations, trackside and non-trackside, can all be delivered in short time-frames and with financial savings – that’s the difference modular methods make. Modular is also built to the same, if not higher, sustainability standards as traditional methods, including BREEAM.

If you couple all these benefits with modular’s more nimble approach which means it adapts to changes in specification more quickly than traditional bricks and mortar, the rail sector is set to win all round.

Complete turnkey solutions delivered using offsite construction methods could be the rail sector’s answer to reducing its costs and construction programmes.

World-class health and safety benefits

HS2 is one of the world’s largest construction projects, and health and safety is one its core values. As HS2 is working with a broad group of contractors, suppliers and manufacturers, it has established a unique, belief-based health and safety brand – Safe At Heart. This culture puts safety at the heart of building the railway and reflects that the health and wellbeing of the collective is at the heart of everything they do.

There are many health and safety benefits associated with modular building due to the controlled, factory environment in which they are manufactured. The factory-based setting provides cleaner, safer working conditions and safety requirements can be easily met and policed.

There is also a reduced risk of trips, slips and falls, particularly as work at height is reduced and manual handling and lifting of goods is limited.

Actavo is leading the construction revolution from the front

In 2016, Plimsoll Analysis named Actavo | Building Solutions as the UK’s fastest-growing modular building company for the past three years running (2014-2017). Additionally, Actavo was one of the first modular building companies to fully implement BIM Level 2 into its business.

Actavo | Building Solutions brings a wealth of experience and expertise to help the rail sector capitalise on the benefits of offsite construction methods and has been operating in the UK since 2009. In that time, Actavo has worked with Alstom, Signalling Solutions and Network Rail to deliver both trackside and non-trackside offsite solutions.

Most recently, Actavo was appointed to design and build Oxford Railway Station’s new train operating company (TOC) building. A two-phase, 18-week project, the building forms part of the proposed £75m Oxford Railway Station upgrade.

Now viewed as the modern, innovative, construction method of choice in the rail sector, modular building offers both robust quality and speed of build with minimal disruption.

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Cloudfm wins Queensway contract

Real estate investment specialists Queensway Group have appointed Cloudfm to manage all planned and reactive maintenance at their KFC restaurants.

Alongside their commercial and residential property, coffee house and hotel interests – with their estate numbering more than 100 assets across the UK in total – Queensway have been operating KFC restaurants under a franchise model since 2009. They currently serve over 3,000,000 customers a year across their 20 KFC sites in the Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester areas.

The new contract, worth around £5m over five years, will add to Cloudfm’s impressive portfolio of restaurant clients, which includes KFC’s own estate of 230 restaurants as well as Prezzo, Zizzi, ASK and PizzaExpress.

“We’re delighted to have won the contract with Queensway, and look forward to supporting their business objectives with our innovative approach to FM provision – centering on an optimal, intelligent interface between technology and human resource – and our commitment to delivering improved quality and value through our rigorous processes,” said Jeff Dewing, CEO of Cloudfm. “Having already looked after the KFC equity estate of 230 restaurants for a couple of years we’re able to mobilise quickly and provide the very best service to meet their specific needs.”

“The Cloudfm philosophy has a great synergy with the sustainable, pragmatic approach we take to all aspects of our business,” said Karen Parr, Operations Director at Queensway. “We’re looking forward to working in partnership with an FM provider who not only understands the particular needs of KFC right from the start, but also shares the same emphasis on true value, which will enable our operations team to focus more productively on their core day job.”

To find out more about Cloudfm’s innovative approach to FM delivery to optimise quality while lowering costs, visit