Care In The Construction Industry

Lara Ayris On Award Night With AwardLara Ayris, managing director of Waste Plan Solutions Ltd and voted Outstanding Woman in Construction 2012, looks at Duty of Care in the construction industry… and recounts one outstanding story! CIWM Journal Online Exclusive


The majority of our clients in the construction industry are continuously in need of guidance and assistance in order to comply with their responsibilities under the Duty of Care regulations.

There are several unique challenges that companies in this sector experience regarding the waste they produce:

  • the principal contractor on a project may use several specialist sub-contractors, each of whom could be responsible for the removal of waste from the site
  • there is a need at times, when possible to burn green waste on site
  • where possible they will move excavated material from one site to another to re-use it for landscaping, etc.
  • simply the number of “carriers” involved in the “cart away process” can be a challenge to maintaining accurate Duty of Care information

We also find that the size of the companies constituting our client base results in a lack of clerical / administrative resource.

One instance that I seem to recount frequently is the situation where the groundworks phase of a project was coming to completion and 140 “8-wheelers” were due to leave site that day to remove the excavated soil and stone. When the first two lorries left, however, no Waste Transfer Note or information on duty of care was given to the site manager, who, it just so happened, had recently attended a workshop on duty of care and what to be aware of, so he rang his head office to query this with the quantity surveyor (QS).

The QS was a little baffled, so he went to site and arrived just as another lorry was leaving, so he followed it to find out where the soil and stone was being taken. He was a little confused when the load was tipped in the middle of a field! He then called me and asked me to contact the groundworks sub-contractor to find out what was going on.

The groundworkers referred me to their waste contractor, who insisted that they had sold the “material” and therefore it wasn’t “waste”! After much “discussion” I found out that they had indeed sold the material, to a local borough council, to be used as a bund for a new housing development, but no-one had realised that when the soil and stone left site it was classified as waste and therefore the field where it was taken required an exemption to be raised, to satisfy Duty of Care!

Fortunately, The Environment Agency helped me to fast-track the exemption and the process only incurred a single day’s delay. This occurrence may seem unbelievable, but it is a good demonstration of the type of situation we experience quite frequently.

Over the years, we have therefore developed a number of methods and tools designed specifically to assist our clients with their Duty of Care compliance on a practical level, but there is still nothing as effective as frequent training sessions and workshops which provide practical examples of what needs to be done and when.

One of the best things we have done is create an online database, WastePlan, which not only contains verified carrier licence and permit / exemption information, but also holds copies of relevant documents, to which all our clients have access. This came about as the result of having many physical files of paper copies of licences etc, and having to retrieve specific copies to satisfy the Duty of Care for a new site. Now all we have to do is ensure that any expired documents are replaced when necessary.

Before work even starts on site we now have a list of questions we ask, such as “Is soil being moved to another site?”, in order that we can prepare necessary exemption applications well in advance.

Lara Ayris founded Waste Plan Solutions Ltd in November 2009, specialising in the production and management of Site Waste Management Plan’s (SWMPs) for the Construction Industry.


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