No 'site' for sore eyes: managing on-site disruption

No 'site' for sore eyes: managing on-site disruption

On-site issues can lead to delay and crippling costs, but what can be done to minimise the risks posed by site disruption? Jonathan Hosie and Chris Fellowes, construction and engineering partners at Mayer Brown International LLP, consider the challenges facing construction sites and the best ways to mitigate the risks.

What are the challenges facing large-scale construction projects in terms of site management?

There are a number, for example:

  • logistics planning, particularly for brown field city centre developments
  • highway closures
  • neighbourhood issues, including rights of light and crane over-sailing

Cranes are a continual problem in cities. If a crane is to over-sail a property proper agreements and indemnities have to be put in place which can affect the timing of a project. To avoid such issues, luffing jib cranes, which don’t over-sail neighbouring sites, can be used instead but they are more expensive. Practical issues like this present a range of problems.

Well organised sites tend to have a better health and safety record and better productivity rates. On-site accidents necessarily lead to investigations by the Health & Safety Executive, sometimes site closure and inevitable production delays. They are therefore costly in financial terms, as well in terms of the physical injury caused to the victim.

A lack of skilled site management resources is also a problem. We don’t pay experienced and skilled site managers enough in the UK and so there is a shortage of them. This is being partly addressed through apprenticeships, but generally there are just not enough skilled people around to do the job.

How can lawyers assist in negotiating with the local authority as to terms of access, disruption etc?

Lawyers can help client developers with the negotiation and drafting of ‘section 38’ agreements (

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