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Preventing delays and avoiding disputes with 24/7 environmental monitoring


Mitigating complaints and upholding the regulations within a Section 61 application are key factors to ensure that demolition projects remain on track with minimal delays. Here, Hamid Hosseini, Head of our Environmental Monitoring division, discusses how environmental monitoring solutions offer robust compliance methods, which can be used to ensure contractors can boost their environmental credentials and thus are protected against public disputes or legal action. 

Demolition contractors across the UK are beginning to return to normal operations after a few difficult months brought about by the emergence of COVID-19. According to a survey conducted by the National Federation of Demolition Contractors (NFDC), 45% of demolition contractors closed at least one site during the lockdown period. In turn, this shutdown has contributed to the biggest monthly decline of UK civil engineering output since April 1997. With this in mind, it is important that demolition contractors are able to easily move past this difficult moment in time. By incorporating environmental monitoring within operations, contractors will be able to mitigate some areas of risk by successfully complying with certain protocols, such as Section 61 applications. 

Contractors are aware of their responsibility to the environment and the local population, and Section 61 still remains an important consideration across all manner of demolition projects. Through the application, local authorities request information about proposed site operating hours, as well as details of the plans in place to assess noise, vibration and dust levels on-site. Overlooking this important process could see demolition contractors fined at a time when so many businesses are working hard to preserve profits. 

Section 61 applications are a complex and time-consuming procedure, especially when noise, vibration and dust levels on demolition projects tend to be elevated. In fact, previous monitoring approaches often comprised of laborious and time-intensive endeavors, which reduced on-site productivity. Fortunately, this has now changed. The development of environmental monitoring systems provides contractors with a more robust solution to compliance concerns and makes the Section 61 process easier to complete. Many of these solutions can be used to track site performance across a wide range of variables, including dust, noise and vibration. By adopting them, contractors are able to reduce their risk of receiving environment-related fines, as the systems will immediately alert the nominated personnel of any breaches, so that they can be rectified straight away. In turn, this will help to ensure projects remain on-time, on budget and as much profit as possible remains within the project. 

On demolition projects in particular, local authorities will be concerned about excess noise, which has the potential to adversely affect those that live and work in the surrounding area. Therefore, demolition contractors will know that authorities are likely to impose restrictions on noise levels, which must be adhered to. 

To ensure that noise levels do not cause annoyance or distress to those within the local surroundings, many councils will require either ongoing or ‘spot’ monitoring of noise levels. In such circumstances, contractors must be able to rely on an effective monitoring solution that can provide accurate and responsive decibel readings, to report disturbance to surrounding areas and actual noise levels for onsite workers. 

At Mabey Hire, we offer an all-in-one environmental monitoring solution that can be tailored to the requirements of any project: the Enviroguard. This is a completely automated system obtaining real-time data throughout the entire life cycle of the works. In the event of an alarm trigger, the Enviroguard unit will provide an email alert to the contractor delivering analytical data from the measurement obtained. By incorporating this solution within operations, contractors can make sure that construction activities remain within decibel threshold limits. In turn, this helps to greatly reduce the risk of council-imposed fines, or worse still, site shutdowns. 

Dust monitoring is another highly important factor, as well as the monitoring of ground-borne vibration levels. On demolition projects, vibration levels will be particularly relevant on sites near other structures, such as bridges. Historically, vibration measurement has been considered a specialist field, which often required external consultations. However, through the utilisation of the Enviroguard, it is possible to receive truly accurate and reliable vibration and dust level readings by investing in an effective environmental monitoring solution. With the solution, contractors can compile real-time vibration monitoring data, which in turn, provides an invaluable resource to detail what did, or didn’t happen should a dispute occur. Contractors are also able to examine the readily available data quickly, should any concerns be filed from workers or those in the surrounding area.

One such example of a contractor, which incorporated environmental monitoring systems on a project to reduce the risk of pollution and minimise environmental impact, is Deconstruct UK Ltd. As part of a renovation project to one of the world’s top 10 universities, Deconstruct UK Ltd was appointed to undertake the demolition of a section of the Kings College London building.

While carrying out the demolition works, Deconstruct UK Ltd needed to monitor the structural integrity of nearby structures, reduce the risk of pollution to students and staff and minimise environmental impact. As such, the contractor incorporated our Enviroguard solution and opted for the following sensors: PM10 dust and particulate monitor, Class 1 noise monitor and Tri-axial vibration sensor. 

Enviroguard was the ideal choice for Deconstruct UK Ltd due to the familiarity of the system and ease of use for the project team. The modular system design also allowed for the units to be changed during the project duration, so sensors could be added or removed as the project demanded. Streaming real-time measurements to our web portal, LIVEsite, Deconstruct UK Ltd’s managers could view data from one or multiple stations/sensors via a single page view or via multi-site. 

Trigger levels were also pre-programmed into the system to generate an email to authorised users as soon as a threshold level was breached. This allowed Deconstruct UK Ltd’s management team to react quickly and ensure corrective action was taken.

As the nation looks to start rebuilding, it’s imperative that demolition contractors from across the sector feel confident when it comes to regulation compliance. Therefore, it’s time for the sector to fully adopt effective environmental monitoring solutions, by incorporating them into projects that have strict noise, dust and vibration levels to adhere to. 

At Mabey Hire, we’re proud to offer solutions suitable for the task, such as our fully automated, stand-alone Enviroguard system. The innovative solution enables real-time 24/7 measurement of site conditions, supported by comprehensive site data with alert capability, in full compliance with Section 61 planning restrictions. With impressive and easy to digest data at your fingertips, which can be examined at any point on a project, contractors are able to protect themselves from costly local enforcement or legal actions. 

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