I was very interested in your article “Safe crackers” (11 March, pages 36-37), especially the comments relating to the CDM regulations and clients. Having been a client property manager for more than 20 years I think the problems for the client in fitting with the suggestions of your experts are not as straightforward as suggested.
From the outside it’s easy to say “the client should …”, but it’s not that simple. Take the appointment of a planning supervisor. Some projects spend two or three years in the “maybe” stage and the spend could still be only a few thousand pounds. I don’t usually appoint a planning supervisor until I know a project is approved to proceed. And I like to have a planning supervisor who is strong enough to challenge everyone. I believe the planning supervisor should be one person who understands everyone else’s roles.
It is difficult to get designers to give operational and safety issues a high enough priority. Should the client need to review every little detail of an designer’s designs? Unfortunately, the devil really is in the detail and the client often has to challenge design. There are lots of things that get built that can’t be safely maintained, and after it has been built the design team loses interest and the client loses money.
I always insist on maintenance records by handover of the first phase of a project. Contractors – and even consultants – have difficulty understanding the importance of clients knowing how to use things safely and correctly when they get them. There is a reluctance to give supplier information to clients in case it repeats a design selection, but we paid for it and usually all we want is to be able to replace bits that get broken.
Making all directors have a personal financial and imprisonment risk will put an issue high on the agenda of everyone in an organisation. Making businesses capable of being prosecuted and fined where an individual can’t be pinned makes sure the emphasis from the board is not “do it, but don’t tell me”. The trouble is that everyone makes mistakes.
Graham Read, via email