Doing the right thing

7 December 2018

Doing the right thing

At SparkSafe, we strive to do the right thing on behalf of the electrical contracting industry.  We are essentially trying to persuade responsible industry Clients to adopt an online quality control system that favours electrical contractors who are also trying to do the right thing.  The benefits of such a system must be geared towards producing a win-win outcome. Responsible industry Clients have three common, minimum requirements for our industry. These are:

  • Value for money
  • Quality of service
  • Timely delivery

On the supply side, responsible electrical contractors have three corresponding requirements. These are:

  • Fair competition
  • Fair contract
  • Fair payment

On the ground, the characteristics of the UK construction industry haven’t improved a great deal in the past three decades. Many owner-operators and workers will contend that the industry has deteriorated regarding the quality of work, availability of skills and the risk/reward outcomes.

At the organised end of the industry, we have become better at safety and perhaps more considerate and responsible towards external social and community stakeholders.  However, anecdotal and other worrying evidence continues to emerge around health and especially mental health issues in the construction industry. Addictions, depression and suicide rate reports make for grim reading.  Materials, technology, and techniques have been developed to facilitate rapid construction programmes. Architects, designers, and consultants are understandably drawn towards the things that make a building shine and function well on, and hopefully beyond,  the day of handover.  However, the occupational identity and critically the accredited qualifications of manual workers in the construction and building services industry are often veiled from a Client’s line of sight. A focus on the processes of building, refurbishing or altering structures often masks the vital human contribution.

Tendering processes, Dutch auctions and the inevitable harsh final squeeze on subcontractor prices accelerate the vicious circle that undermines the requirement to train and retain existing workers and attract high-quality new entrants.  In the contemporary industry, tiers of labour-only or “subby” package work usually means that the primary electrical sub-contractor is dependent on an extended, eclectic supply chain.  Such a dependency may mean that the competency or qualifications of workers in the extended supply chain may need to be taken on trust.

SparkSafe is designed to make it easy for responsible Clients to assess and monitor the individual and the collective competency of electrical workers engaged on their project.  Our objective is to help bring Client focus to the human contribution by workers in the UK construction industry.   SparkSafe is an established, innovative resource that helps responsible Clients ensure that a responsible supply chain is serving their project with an appropriately qualified workforce.