When watching some videos of China’s progression in to the world of modular building solutions showing tower blocks of various heights going up at an insanely rapid pace (30 storeys building completed in 30 days) I reviewed my opinion of the health and safety implications this could have were we to adopt more of this style of building in the UK.
Think about it, by creating most of the structure, the fittings and the finishes within a controlled environment it has the potential to bring certain benefits to the process including improved waste management and environmental sustainability, improved quality control of the final product, better time planning and lead delivery but above all else wouldn’t this improve the health and safety for the workforce with far less risks posed to them such as minimal working at height requirements, greater control of environmental risk factors such as sun exposure (melanoma and dehydration issues), cold (muscle injury, slips) lighting issues and so on. This increased control on all areas of the process may offer increased profitability for the company allowing for sustained rates for the trade workers instead of the up and down cycle we have seen in recent years as skill levels increase and dip. There are fears from some workers this would lead to a loss of skilled tradesmen but I don’t believe this would be the case in the grand scheme of things as the skills would still be required just in a different setting.
Obviously there are some drawbacks to modular build in that bespoke design is more difficult and costly, logistically there is a challenge to sending more and more lorry loads of prefabricated components around the country on our already jam packed network but with a little ingenuity and long term investment I think these challenges could be met, making the build process more eco-friendly and stimulating growth in our economy by setting us apart from other countries that are still yet to embrace this technology (as we currently are to a degree) possibly encouraging new trade deals to buy our technologies and export of these components bringing long term growth to the construction industry. With regard to the infrastructure problem of clogging up the roads perhaps we could look at reviving at canal networks and the fact we are an island nation to utilize our waterways as we did in the past as a means of moving the flat pack products around the country? What do you think?
To see the videos referenced above please follow the links below to see how China does it.