The International Organization For Standardization Construction Essay

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Introduction

Quality Assurance is a kind of specification or requirements of clients or customers. There is no certain definition for a good standard of quality. Through drawings, the requirements or specification of the clients can be recorded and expressed. Sometimes quality can be expressed in terms of safety and cost, i.e. finishing a certain job safely and lower the cost as much as possible.

Under the current subcontracting practice, the lowest bidder would get the contract and as a result the financial return is trivial but the risk is huge. Subcontractors have to shorten the completion time and resort to lower standard or to use unskilled or semi-skilled labour in order to save construction cost. As a consequent, the quality and performance are being affected accordingly.

Recently, more and more construction companies have registered for ISO 9001qualification, as they benifited much. In the following proposal, I will explain what is ISO 9001 and how does it relate with the quality assurance objectives in the construction industry. Lastly, I will adopt those theories into a real example. I will explain how I would get my work right first time, every time and meet the expectation of the architect for the construction of the landscaped garden.

What is ISO 9001?

ISO 9001 is a family of standards for quality management systems. ISO 9001 is maintained by ISO, the International Organization for Standardization and is administered by accreditation and certification bodies. Some of the requirements in ISO 9001 (which is one of the standards in the ISO 9001 family) include

a set of procedures that cover all key processes in the business;

monitoring processes to ensure they are effective;

keeping adequate records;

checking output for defects, with appropriate and corrective action where necessary;

regularly reviewing individual processes and the quality system itself for effectiveness; and

facilitating continual improvement

A company or organization that has been independently audited and certified to be in conformance with ISO 9001 may publicly state that it is "ISO 9001 certified" or "ISO 9001 registered". Certification to an ISO 9001 standard does not guarantee any quality of end products and services; rather, it certifies that formalized business processes are being applied. Indeed, some companies enter the ISO 9001 certification as a marketing tool.

Although the standards originated in manufacturing, they are now employed across several types of organization. A "product", in ISO vocabulary, can mean a physical object, services, or software. In fact, according to ISO in 2004, "service sectors now account by far for the highest number of ISO 9001:2000 certificates - about 31% of the total."

Contents of ISO 9001

ISO 9001:2000 Quality management systems - Requirements is a document of approximately 30 pages which is available from the national standards organization in each country. Outline contents are as follows:

Page iv: Foreword

Pages v to vii: Section 0 Introduction

Pages 1 to 14: Requirements

Section 1: Scope

Section 2: Normative Reference

Section 3: Terms and definitions (specific to ISO 9001, not specified in ISO 9001)

Pages 2 to 14

Section 4: Quality Management System

Section 5: Management Responsibility

Section 6: Resource Management

Section 7: Product Realization

Section 8: Measurement, analysis and improvement

In effect, users need to address all sections 1 to 8, but only 4 to 8 need implementing within a QMS.

Pages 15 to 22: Tables of Correspondence between ISO 9001 and other standards

Page 23: Bibliography

The standard specifies six compulsory documents:

Control of Documents (4.2.3)

Control of Records (4.2.4)

Internal Audits (8.2.2)

Control of Nonconforming Product / Service (8.3)

Corrective Action (8.5.2)

Preventive Action (8.5.3)

In addition to these, ISO 9001:2000 requires a Quality Policy and Quality Manual (which may or may not include the above documents).

Why ISO 9001 is implemented in CityBuild?

By studying past experiences from those companies in which ISO9001 is implemented, we can conclude that implementing ISO often gives the following advantages:

Create a more efficient, effective operation

Increase customer satisfaction and retention

Reduce audits

Enhance marketing

Improve employee motivation, awareness, and morale

Promote international trade

Increases profit

Reduce waste and increases productivity

Being a construction company, CityBuild needs the support of clients and also the government. Hence, the fame of our company becomes the most important tool to gain the confidence of clients and the certification of ISO 9001 can enhance the good reputation of our company.

Also, the implementation of ISO 9001 can reduce the daily production cost by many ways. For example, the quality management system can help to reduce the wastage by means of the introduction of method statement or quality documentation. This can greatly reduce the material cost when the development or construction project is in large scale.

Real Case Example

Situation

"You have just received an Architect Instruction that revises the design of the landscaped garden at 5th floor. The new design includes a lot of environmental friendly elements that are new to both you and your company. Prepare a proposal to assurance to get your work right first time, every time and meet the expectation of the architect."

From ISO 9001, there are 4 stages in implementation. They are Preparation, Implementation, Continuous review and Support. In this case, I will emphasize on the first two areas and achieve my goal.

Preparation

In this stage, I'll form steering group from top management which is to analyze the status of quality system, staff involvement and motivation towards the quality. And I'll take the following actions:

Set up training before work.

As the construction of the landscape garden involves great numbers of new environmental friendly products, special training is needed for the workers to familiarize the usage of these products and their installation details.

Making samples in the construction site

Samples of different parts of the landscaped garden will be made and they will be put in the office of the construction site. Workers can compare their works with the samples in the office to ensure that their works are qualified.

Make regular meetings with the clients.

As the requirement of the clients may differ from time to time, regular meetings should be carried out in order to get the latest opinion of the clients. It satisfies the clients as well as it can improve the quality of the works.

Implement punishment system to workers.

Peer auditing system will be implemented in the construction site. If worker is proved responsible for a deflect or poor workmanship, money punishment will be applied and it will be deducted from the daily salary. It will have an alarming effecting for all the workers.

Identify the possible deflects the workers may create during work.

By studying surveys and statistics in the past construction records, we can find out the problems most of the workers may have. For example, poor workmanship of the installation of the planters or the water proof membranes. I will find out the causes and the consequences of the problems. Afterwards I will divide them into groups by how often the problem exists and the seriousness for future actions.

By these measures, I am confident that the chance of poor workmanship affecting the quality of the building may be lowered. Although the total cost and the time required for the construction may be increased, I think it is worth to spend comparing to the cost used for correcting the deflects or problems afterwards.

Implementation

I will assess the company's current level of quality against the chosen ISO 9001 and I will define the major gaps between the current level and the standard requirement. Afterwards, areas which require corrective actions in order to bridge the gap between existing quality system and the standard requirement can be generated. Lastly, quality documents will be drafted to improve the future quality and to enhance continuous improvement.

These are some possible actions:

Install quality documentation.

Manual, Procedures, Work Instructions or forms, records, books and files of the related construction process will be documented in order to ensure the product meets the required quality.

Self auditing of the documentation.

A quality assurance manager will be hired for checking the quality of every procedure during construction. His/her responsibility is to ensure the work done fulfill the requirements of the quality documents.

Regular training to related staff.

Once the quality document is revised, trainings to related staff are implemented to remind them for the most up-dated technologies.

Third party certification.

Third party's certification is a must. It includes the verification of the quality documentation of the compliance with ISO requirements and the auditing of the activities of the organization for its compliance with the documentation.

Conclusion

To dual with the quality assurance problem, I will take the following actions:

Set up training before work.

Making samples in the construction site

Make regular meetings with the clients.

Implement punishment system to workers.

Identify the possible deflects the workers may create during work.

Install quality documentation.

Self auditing of the documentation.

Regular training to related staff.

Third party certification.

By the above solutions, the quality of the construction can be further enhanced. Through this quality assurance system, continuous improvement can be achieved.

Site Safety

Introduction

Accidents wreck lives, disrupt work and are costly. We should provide a safe and healthy working environment for all personnel in public works construction sites and others who may be affected by the works.

In the past, the main objectives of the construction projects are only time, cost and quality. People usually ignore the number of injury during the projects. However, the public concerns on construction safety become more and more important. Portion of resources spent on safety have been increasing in the recent years.

In this project, I am going to prepare a safety plan for the external wall finishing work from 6th to 31st floor. I will firstly identify the potential risk the worker may be facing. Afterwards, I will provide some possible measures corresponding to the risks identified. Lastly, I will provide an evaluation for these measures.

Potential Risk Identification

Falling from heights is the main cause of injury in the construction sites. From the no. of death in construction site in 2001, human falling from heights equal or above 2m cause 32% of deaths, which is the highest among all the causes. People died because of falling objects contributed 11% of total number of death too. In short, the main causes of the high level working accidents can be divided into the following groups:

Slip, stumble or fall down at the same heights

Workers may slip, stumble or fall down when they kick on hand tools, building materials, light machines or temporary working platform. As they fall down at the same heights, the seriousness of the injury may not be great.

Hurt by hand tools

Simple hand tools like hammers, screw drivers or small electrical drills are always used by the workers. However, they seldom wear suitable safety protective clothing. As a result, workers may hurt easily when they use the hand tools improperly. Fortunately, injury caused by simple hand tools may not be serious.

Hurt by falling objects

Hand tools, building materials or even structures of the building may fall down suddenly in the construction sites. This may be caused by the improper installation of temporary scaffolding, building materials or poor workmanship of the construction works. Although the size or weight of the falling objects are not great, it can cause serious injury or even deaths easily as the objects are hitting on human at a very high speed.

Human falling from heights

This is the easiest way workers may die from. Many workers do not wear a safety belt when they are working at high levels because of convenience. On the other hand, the bamboo scaffoldings used in the construction sites may be damaged during rainstorms or strong winds but they have not been properly checked or fixed. Workers working on these scaffolding may face a great chance of falling down.

Safety Strategy

Introduction of Buddy System

The buddy system will be enforced at all field Sites. Buddy pairs will help each other to confirm the integrity of their protective clothing, to observe each other for safety and/or signs of stress, and to notify others if emergency help is required.

Shifting of duties

Evacuation routes from any hot zone and re-grouping sites will be demonstrated via a map in the site\safety plan and reviewed at all tailgate safety meetings.

Selection of the sub-contractor

Contractors who give proper consideration to construction safety to carry out works will be selected, and safety aspects must be given a high weighting factor in pre-qualification exercises

Arrange safety training

Architect/Engineers' site staff supervising workers should attend a safety training before work.

Establish Site Safety and Environmental Management Committees

Site Safety and Environmental Management Committees will be established to monitor the implementation of safety plans and/or the contractor's site safety obligations as set out in the contract.

Set up a dangerous occurrence database

A database for dangerous occurrences and accidents will be built up which result in death or incapacity for more than 3 days for monitoring, analysis and formulation of measures on accident prevention.

Regular review of the Site Safety Manual

The Construction Site Safety Manual should be reviewed and updated to assist Works Departments in administrating construction safety matters for public works contracts.

Technical Measures

In my planning, ceramic tiles will be used on the external wall finishing. They may be installed on interior or exterior wall areas, in wet or dry locations (in hot or cold environments). However, they should not be exposed to high abrasion, high impact thermal shock or installed over flexible surfaces.

Corresponding to the installation, the following safety measures will be implemented:

Bamboo scaffolding will be used

Bamboo scaffolding is any temporary bamboo structure that is used for the purpose of scaffolding by works contractor in construction site of average difficulty.

Safety Requirements

The storage of materials shall be maintained in secure and stable condition.

The lifting of materials shall be carried out by experienced riggers.

Sound materials shall be used for erection of bamboo scaffold.

All hand tools shall be inspected by scaffolders prior to use.

No overloading or shock load on the scaffold was allowed.

Debris and waste materials shall be cleared away from the scaffold/platform at regular intervals.

The winch, which was used for dismantling of bamboo scaffold, shall be examined and inspected in accordance with the Factories & Industrial undertaking (Lifting Appliances and Lifting Gear) Regulation.

Training

All workers shall held valid Green Card and attend safety induction training.

All scaffolders shall be trained to familiar the construction method for erection and dismantling of the sky platform.

Appropriate safety training shall be arranged to all scaffolders for the use of fall arresting devices.

Specific safety training shall be arranged for handling of materials, e.g. manual handling operation.

Personal Protective Equipment

All bamboo scaffolder shall use fall arresting device while erection of dismantling of bamboo scaffold, it included safety harness, fall arrested independent lifeline, etc.

All personal protective equipment shall be complied with the international standards or be approved by the Commissioner of Labour.

The independent lifelines shall be securely installed to anchorage point.

All equipment shall be inspected before every use to ensure it in good working order.

Inspection and Maintenance

To appoint a competent person to carry out routine inspection for bamboo scaffolds. The appointment of competent person shall be made in writing.

The results of inspection shall be filled in Approved Form - Form 5 under the Construction Sites (Safety) Regulation.

The inspection of bamboo scaffold shall be carried out before first time use, for every 14days, any alternation of platform and after adverse weather.

Copies of the inspection report (form 5) shall be submitted to the Safety Officer/Site Agent and be kept in site office for record.

Dismantling of Bamboo Scaffold

The subcontractor shall establish method statement for dismantling of bamboo scaffold before the work.

A specific safety meeting shall be held to discuss the method statement for dismantling of bamboo scaffold.

Prepare a risk assessment by project team to identify the potential hazards and control measures for the dismantling of bamboo scaffold.

The flow chart for Construction Management of Bamboo Scaffold System.

Emergency Preparedness/Crisis Management

When bamboo scaffolding fell down:

Identify any victims under the scaffolding.

Call the police and direct the traffic flow.

Ask CP/CW to dismantle and tie back to avoid further damage.

Safety Manager/Officer to report the status and investigate the cause of the accident/incident.

To report to the top-management if any penalty to the guilty party is to be imposed.

Conclusion

The risk of workers working at heights can be divided into the following groups:

Slip, stumble or fall down at the same heights

Hurt by hand tools

Hurt by falling objects

Human falling from heights

Corresponding to the above risks, the following strategy will be implemented:

Introduction of Buddy System

Shifting of duties

Selection of the sub-contractor

Arrange safety training

Establish Site Safety and Environmental Management Committees

Set up a dangerous occurrence database

Regular review of the Site Safety Manual

And the technical measures will be listed below:

List out the Safety Requirements

Training

Personal Protective Equipment

Inspection and Maintenance

Dismantling of Bamboo Scaffold

Set up flow chart for Construction Management of Bamboo Scaffold System.

Emergency Preparedness/Crisis Management

I am confident that the above measures will effectively minimize the number of injury in the construction site. I am looking forward to implement this proposal and achieve a zero-injury environment.

Subcontractor management

Introduction

Subcontractors play an important role in the construction industry. Subcontractors are specialty contractors who are hired to perform specific tasks on a project. On many projects, particularly building projects, it is common for 80-90% of the work to be performed by subcontractors. Although subcontractors play a deciding role in the construction process, little is known about the actual terms of the working relationship that exists between subcontractors and general contractors. If the general contractor cannot cooperate with the subcontractor well, many problems may occur.

In this situation, there is a significant delay in the floor screeding work and I am going to prepare a proposal to push the respective subcontractor to rectify the problem immediately.

In my proposal, I will first identify the causes of the delay in the construction projects. They will be divided into groups for generating the corresponding measures/solutions afterwards. Lastly, I will evaluate the flexibility of the solutions.

Contractual Relationship

Usually, a contractor will responsible towards an employer for whatever nominated subcontractors and suppliers do or fails to do. However, the contractor is allowed to secure an extension and avoid damages when a nominated subcontractor has defaulted in the manner stated, provided that the contractor has done everything reasonable in the circumstances to mitigate the effects. In addition, if the contractor has taken appropriate action, he is not liable to the employer.

The use of the phrase delay on the part of the nominated subcontractors and nominated suppliers came in for some judicial criticism in Westminster Corporation v. J.Jarvis1. According to the court the phrase does not mean the delay caused by nominated subcontractors or nominated suppliers. It was construed as a failure to complete the nominated subcontract works within the appropriate subcontract period. It followed that nominated subcontractors who completed on time but had to return to carry remedial work could have caused the sort of delay described by the phrase2.

On the other hand, if the breach is discovered before the subcontract works or the supply of goods or materials period ends so that completion is then delayed beyond the completion date, either case while the breach is being remedied, this would amount to 'delay on the part of the nominated subcontractor' and thus gives rise to a right to extension of time.3

Figure 1: Delay on the part of Nominated Subcontractor

Adopted from Robinson et.al (1996)

(1970) 1 WLR 637 1 AII ER 943

2. I.Ndekugri(1994).Delay, Extension of Time and Liquidated Damages under JCT80, Construction

Papers, Reading University,1-14.

3. Robinson, M.N. et.al(1996). Construction Law in Singapore and Malaysia, 2nd ed., Butterworth Asia.

With reference to the illustrations in Figure 1, it established the contractor's claims and entitlement to an extension of time. In a contrasting situation, no liquidated damages may be claimed by the employer, and the employer suffers his own loss caused by the delay. In other words, both nominated subcontractor and employer lose, while the contractor is compensated.

Figure 2: Delay caused by Nominated Subcontractor

Adopted from Robinson et.al (1996)

However, according to illustration in Figure 2, it demonstrated that the situation whereby the contractor cannot claim extension of time and must be therefore either accelerates his programme to meet the original date for completion or suffer liquidated damages for delay.154 In fact; the employer is either not affected or is recompensed for his own loss. Further, the contractor claims his disturbance cost (which includes any liquidated damages he has suffered under the main contract) from the nominated subcontractor. As a result, nominated subcontractor loses and both contractor and employer are compensated.

Causes of the delay in construction projects

Basically, projects can be delayed for a large number of reasons. Normally, most of the previous studies that have been conducted focused on reasons or causes for delay in main contract. Delays in nominated subcontracting are very seldom acknowledged and the ways to improve are also seldom discussed, but it is a significant cause to delay the construction project. In addition to that, delay on the part of nominated subcontractors will entitle the main contractor to obtain an extension of time.

In my opinion, there are basically 3 areas that will cause the delay of construction projects:

Due to the problem of main contractor

Due to the problem of subcontractor

Due to the failure of completion of other procedures

Due to the problem of main contractor

Late Payment

Most of building contracts provide for payment by instalment as the works proceeds normally against an architect's certificate. In practice, the most common payment arrangement is one where work is certified and paid progressively according to the value of work completed through a series of interim payment or progress payment.

Wrong termination of the employment of nominated subcontractor

Sometimes the main contractors may not be satisfied with the performance of the subcontractors and decided to terminate the contract with them. However, as a general principle of law, failure to pay on time what is due under a contract will not normally be treated as a sufficient breach to justify the other party in terminating that contract. Problems may arise when the main contractor wrongly terminate the nominated subcontractor. Due to this, delay in nominated subcontract works could be caused by this type of circumstances.

Failure of the main contractor to supply materials and goods

If the main contractor fails to supply the building materials and goods to the subcontractor, delay of the working procedure is a must and it is obviously the main contractor to take the responsibility to pay for the cost of delay.

Late Instructions

To enable the works to proceed properly, it is normally necessary for the architect or engineer to issue instructions or additional drawings during the course of the works. However, most of the extension time provisions provide for time to be extended where the architect or engineer fails to issue these instructions or drawing in a timely manner.

Failure of Main Contractor to Provide Amenities And Facilities

One of the obligations of the main contractor is to provide facilities for the nominated subcontractor to proceed with the subcontract works. Besides that, the main contractor should consider the condition of the site whether the facilities and amenities has been ready for the nominated subcontractor to carry out the subcontract works without any disruptions.

Due to the problem of subcontractor

Failure of Subcontractor to pay wages to workers

Due to the late payment of the wages by subcontractor to the workers, the workers may not be satisfied and refuse to continue working on the other days. It may lead to serious lacking of manpower for the following construction procedures.

Insufficiency in providing enough tools to workers

Workers may work inefficiently without enough tools for their works due to the limited storage areas for tools, and it will surely delay the work in a serious manner.

Labour shortage

Subcontractors always have to work under tight budgets. Lacking of manpower is always a problem in small subcontractor company. Extra workers may not be available in case of tight programmes of construction and delay will be resulted.

Due to the failure of completion of other procedures

This is a chain effect that the delay in the previous construction procedure may cause the delay of the following sequences. For example, the finishing part of an internal wall cannot be proceeded if the screeding of the wall is properly finished. In the real case examples, the delay of marking, cleaning of the site, concreting, screeding or installation of the building services may cause great delay on the total construction programme.

Solutions to the Problems

Implementation of the master schedule

A master schedule should be set up before any work in order to plan the due day of every construction procedure. This includes the deadline for completion of every step in construction like the fixing of formworks, concreting or application of screeding. The master schedule should be signed by employer, the main contractor and the subcontractors to ensure its legal rights. Any delay of construction procedure can be traced back and the responsible person should be sued for damages.

Transportation and parking area

Plans for alternative routes for accessing the construction sites should be made. In case of bad weather or accidents, trucks or Lorries can travel to the site by another route to prevent delay.

On the other hand, sufficient parking area should be set for trucks and Lorries to prevent the traffic congestion or traffic jams at the site entrance.

Choosing the Subcontractor

Subcontractors with healthy economic background should be hired instead of the small scale ones. As the chance of delay in paying wages will be lower, the risk of delay in construction process will be minimised. Moreover, the reputation of the subcontractor should be considered in the first priority.

Frequent meetings between the PM and the team

It is essential for the project manager, together with the team, to examine and resolve the construction problems. Planning continues throughout the construction phase through various meetings such as owner meetings, staff meetings, and review meetings. In addition to problem solving and planning, a project manager can also use meetings as a channel for task assignment, information collection and coordination.

Regular reschedule the activities within the available resources

In case of there is shortage of labour or resources like building materials, rescheduling the activities can solve the problems.

Conclusion

The causes of the delay in construction projects are listed below:

Due to the problem of main contractor

Late Payment

Wrong termination of the employment of nominated subcontractor

Failure of the main contractor to supply materials and goods

Late Instructions

Failure of Main Contractor to Provide Amenities And Facilities

Due to the problem of subcontractor

Failure of Subcontractor to pay wages to workers

Insufficiency in providing enough tools to workers

Labour shortage

Due to the failure of completion of other procedures

And here are the solutions to the Problems:

Implementation of the master schedule

Transportation and parking area

Choosing the Subcontractor

Frequent meetings between the PM and the team

Regular reschedule the activities within the available resources

If work of the subcontractor can be carefully monitored and managed, so that everything proceeds without extra cost the final result would be a win-win situation between the main contractor and the subcontractor.

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