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Unit 3 Managing the Quality of Construction Work 


Section 1. Identifying Quality

Section 2.  Monitoring Quality

Section 3. Sustainability & Quality


Information and Guidance is available on how you should study

Study Guide


Assignment for Unit 3

Before Submitting your assignment you MUST read and conform to

Instructions for

Submitting Assignments


Additional Learning Resourses



Additional Information

You should relate your responses to any of the tasks set in this unit to the documents listed below; these will provide information about the type and size of the project.  


Section 1


Section 2

Section 3


Unit aim: This unit is designed to meet the needs of Construction Site Managers, to give them knowledge of managing the quality of site work.

This unit has an Introduction and is divided into 3 study sections.


3.1  Identifying Quality Systems
3.1.1 Defining Quality Control
3.1.2 Assessing Quality Requirements
3.1.3 Statutory Documents and Requirements
3.1.4 Conveying Quality Requirements
3.1.5 Financial Implications

3.2 Monitoring Quality
3.2.1 Areas where defect are likely to occur
3.2.2 Quality Management Systems
3.2.3 Quality Plans
3.2.4 Testing

3.3 Sustainability & Quality
3.3.1  Sustainability Issues on Site
3.3.2  Protecting the Environment
3.3.3  Maintaining Environmental Records

Unit Recommended Reading

Harris, F and McCaffer, R (2006) Modern construction management, 6th edn. Oxford: Blackwell.

Books can be ordered from most bookshops or online from Amazon.

Before starting you should read the ‘Study Guide’ accessible from the link on the left.


Quality is not an easy word to define.  It exists at different levels, ranging from the degree to which components meet specification to the degree that the whole satisfies the customer.  It may be judged either in isolation or relative to some other objective such as cost.

Quality Control is the collection of duties which are performed to ensure that the product produced conforms to laid down standards. Decisions need to be made on the method of inspection and how quality is to be maintained.  This involves the setting of standards, monitoring the standards, assessing and testing.

Quality Assurance is the process of ensuring standards are achieved and maintained throughout production and delivery.  Consequently it means ensuring that the product satisfies certain criteria, these are: that they are fit for a defined purpose and that they conform to a specified standard.

This is the assurance that a product satisfies three criteria:

  1. That it is fit for a defined purpose.
  2. It has the ability to perform as required for a reasonable period of time.
  3. That it conforms to a specified standard.

In this unit we will look at the systems used to set the required standard for the work and in ensuring that this conforms to all requirements in relation to the materials and standard of work which meet the clients’ expectations. It will look at the methods which are used in ensuring that the systems assess and record the main aspects relating to quality of the work produced.

Please Note

All information contained in this Study Unit was considered correct at the time of writing but Students must not rely on information contained in the Study Unit and/or references for any purposes other than use within this CIOB qualification aim as legislation and working practices are constantly being revised and updated. Students are advised therefore to continually up-date themselves as to current legislation and construction practice and must not to rely on information contained within the Study Unit and/or references for practical applications in the workplace. Where legislation or construction practice has been superseded to that contained in the Study Unit Students should note this within their responses to the tasks.

 Section 1. Indentifying Quality Systems

Learning outcome: On completion, the learner will: Know how to identify quality.

3.1.1 Defining Quality Control
3.1.2 Assessing Quality Requirements
3.1.3 Statutory Documents and Requirements
3.1.4 Conveying Quality Requirements
3.1.5 Financial Implications

3.1.1 Quality Control
Quality control is the collection of duties which are performed to ensure that the product produced conforms to laid down quality standards. To get an overview of Quality Control you should play the Quality control video in the Multi-media box below and the return to the text.

The quality specification will be set at the design stage. Decisions must be made on the method of inspection and how quality is to be maintained, though the process will involve:
  • Setting of standards which all products must attain.
  • Monitoring the standard of the products produced.
  • Assessing and testing the materials used.
All products produced must normally satisfy three criteria:
  1. That they are fit for a defined purpose.
  2. That they have the ability to perform as required for a reasonable period of time.
  3. That they conform to a specified standard.
This is the collection of duties which are performed in order to ensure that the quality objectives are achieved, it is exercised by:
  • Setting of Standards.  These would be laid down in the specification, though these must conform to planning, public health and construction regulations, British Standard (BS) Codes of Practice and any other regulations and byelaws.
  • Monitoring.  This would be carried out by the client's representative and external agents, for example, the Building Control Officer. It would involve site inspections and the use of quality control forms. It would also ensure that work is carried out according to the specification and that all materials delivered to site are of the required standard and not damaged.
  • Assessment.   This will include the testing of materials.

There is always a risk of disagreements over quality for it is easier to define the standards of manufactured products (to conform to BS...) than for the required standard of work on a construction site. It is important, therefore, that standards are defined at the outset so that all parties know exactly what is expected. Price will of course have an important bearing on the standards achieved and consequently on the appearance and quality of the finished building.

Quality is not just concerned with production but all of the processes that involve a business. The way to achieve this is to:
  • Understand the requirements of the client
  • Understand the internal process which enables you to meet these requirements, and
  • Develop a system and culture that ensures errors are eliminated.
It is important that a system or systems exist within the company to ensure that the requirements with regard to quality are achieved. This means interpreting the requirements of the client and ensuring that all work meets these requirements and the statutory documents related to construction work.


  Task 3.1.1 Define Quality Control

In your own words define Quality Control and state the difference between Quality Control and Quality Assurance.


3.1.2 Assessing Quality Requirements

It is important that you are able to interpret and understand quality requirements. The information relevant to quality will come from a number of sources and the site manager will need to ensure that any work carried out conforms to the requirements specified. It will also enable liaising and discussing quality control matters with other members of the construction team, these will include the Architect, Civil Engineer, Clerk of Works, site staff, tradesmen etc.

The client demands that the finished products, which includes materials and workmanship is of an appropriate acceptable standard which conforms to their requirements.

Companies can spend substantial amounts of time and money carrying out work which is unacceptable to the client, this results in additional time and expense putting things right. By reducing this you will improve profitability and improve competitiveness.

Clients’ (Customers’) Requirements

The client will expect that your products or services conform to their requirements.

Quality is not just concerned with production but all of the processes that involve a business; consequently it will apply equally to people within your own organisation and those receiving a service from you so it is appropriate to look at all everyone who is in receipt of your services as a customer.  The way to achieve this is to:

  • Understand the requirements of your customers
  • Understand the internal process which enables you to meet these requirements, and
  • Develop a system and culture that ensures errors are eliminated.

Companies spend substantial amounts of time and money doing the wrong things and putting things right after they have gone wrong. By reducing this you will improve profitability and improve competitiveness.


Types of Customers

Customers can be categorized as:

  • Internal – these are customers of processes and are within the organisation e.g. Sales Department.
  • External - these are customers of processes and are outside the organisation e.g. Subcontractors.
  • End Users – these receive and pay for the final product e.g. the client.

Customers' Requirements

These are divided into two key areas:

1. Defined requirements - these must be met by the delivered product or service.  They are often specified in the contract and may include some or all of the following:
  • size, weight, colour, texture
  • functions, reliability, response times and facilities required
  • packaging, labelling, delivery time and methods
  • cost and payment arrangements
  • support required
  • response time to failures.

These are the basic requirements for each product or service.  They are the minimum client requirements which must be met if a product or service is to be considered satisfactory.

2. Implied requirements - these are unstated, but create an overall perception of your business in the eyes of the client.  It is the little things that show you care for your customer.  These include:
  • Keeping them informed
  • Consideration for their convenience
  • People responding to enquiries/problems. 
  • Visitors made to feel welcome
  • Professional correspondence 
  • Meetings are punctual
  • Information is available if the client has a query.
These factors can make a lasting impression as they project a professional image.



  Task 3.1.2 Sources of Information

State the sources that you use in order to obtain information relating to the quality of the construction work to be carried out on a site.


3.1.3 Statutory Documents and Requirements

A number of statutory documents exist in order to ensure that work is produced according to specified standards. Therefore the site manager will need to be familiar with the following documents in order to ensure that quality is of a required standard according to law, although this is a minimum standard and the standards will vary according to the type of work and client requirements, all of which are set out in the contract documents. Although not statutory documents in respect that they are legislation they are legal documents which are enforceable by law as they form part of the contract in the carrying out of the work. The documents below will provide information and lay down the requirements with regard to quality:
  • Building Regulations
  • British Standards
  • Agrément Certificates
  • Contract Documents
  • Contract Drawings
  • Technical Specifications
  • ISO 9000
Building Regulations

The Building Regulations have developed over the years to ensure the safety of those who come into contact with buildings.

The Building Control Officer will inspect the work during the course of construction in order to ensure that it complies with the requirements. Alternatively, for housing developments the National House Building Council (NHBC) may be used as the approved inspector (someone qualified to carry out the task of confirming that the building is constructed according to the Building Regulations).

Inspection of the work must be carried out by an Approved Inspector who must be informed 48 hours prior to commencement of work. S/he will then require 24 hours notice to inspect at the following stages:
  • Excavation for foundations
  • Foundation concrete placed
  • Damp-proof course in position 
  • Oversite fill material in position
  • Drains laid
  • Drains back filled
This will ensure that the work meets the required standard. The inspector may use visual inspection to confirm compliance or they may, as in the case of drainage, carry out tests.

If an Approved Inspector is used S/he will submit an initial notice to the Local Authority with the drawings and evidence of insurance. If the Local Authority accepts the notice it becomes the Approved Inspectors not the Local Authority who are responsible for the enforcement of the regulations. On satisfactory completion the Inspector issues a certificate to the developer and the Local Authority.

British Standards Institution (BSI)

This was set up in 1929 to co-ordinate the efforts of all manufacturers and people associated with the use of products. It lays down standards for the improvement, standardization and simplification of all materials.  It also lays down standards of quality and dimensions.

There are five kinds of documents produced by the BSI which are:
  1. British Standards – These were initial product specifications, but now they include schedules, methods of testing, basic data.  The standards are laid down to ensure that quality, performance and usability of components are met, and also lays down preferred forms of a product and properties of a finished article, and method of testing for verifying that the standard has been achieved. There are BS standards for most of the functions and products related to the construction industry.
  2. Codes of Practice – These are recommendations for good practice to be followed during design, manufacture, construction, installation and maintenance with regard to safety, quality, economy and fitness for purpose. 
  3. Draft Documents – These are used before British Standards are issued where firm standards cannot be issued due to the lack of information on the introduction of a new idea of subject. They are intended to be used for a limited period until sufficient data is collected to enable experience, knowledge and usage to contribute to the production of a British Standard.
  4. Published Documents – These are publications used until sufficient information is obtained; they are normally used for subjects which cannot fit into other group categories
  5. Drafts for Comment – These are issued when the BSI is convinced that a subject is important enough to provide resources to look into the preparation of a BS. Anyone can request a new standard and the Institution will then produce a number of drafts for comments. Once these have been considered a British Standard can be introduced.
Agrément Certificates

The British Board of Agrément is a government sponsored organisation which is also financed by the manufacturers of new products.  The manufacturers obtain an independent test certificate from the Board which will when approached will test the product. The certificate is widely recognized and accepted by industry.
ISO 9000

ISO 9000 is:
  • An internationally accepted standard relating to a quality system. Also known as BS5750 in Britain or EN29000 in Europe.
  • It is a formal management system which is adapted by individual companies to meet their needs.
  • It has been broken down into a number of headings to enable it to be easily and efficiently implemented.
  • It is flexible enough to enable it to be implemented by any type of organisation.


  Task 3.1.3 Legislation

Outline the legislation that relates to quality of work produced within the construction industry.


3.1.4 Conveying Quality Requirements
Having determined the quality requirements you will need to ensure that these are conveyed to all those who will be involved with the delivery of the work.

It is imperative that quality requirements are conveyed to all the members of the team and that all workers fully understand the standards that are demanded. These standards relate to:
  • Appearance. The appearance must be acceptable to the client according to the use of the building and the people that will be using it.  If the building is to be a 5* hotel it will need to be more aesthetically pleasing than if it is to be used for storage. This is the area where most disagreements can occur as what look good to one person may not to another.
  • Performance. The project must be able to perform to the standard that is required of it. If it can’t do that it is not acceptable.  It must be ‘fit for purpose’.
  • Structural soundness. This is a case of either it is or it is not and obviously it must be structurally sound.
  • Dimensional accuracy. Tolerance will be determined which will depend on client requirements or working practice. These are easy to assess.

Quality must consider:
  • Performance – Considers what it must do.
  • Reliability – It must be able to perform for a reasonable period of time without failure.
  • Conformance – This is the degree to which specification is met.
  • Durability – This is the length of time a product lasts before it needs to be replaced.
  • Serviceability – looks at the service that the product gives, the amount of repair that may be needed and the time taken to repair.
  • Aesthetics – This is how the product looks and feels.
  • Perceived quality – This can be subjective judgement that results from image.

It is essential that all craftsmen are appropriately trained and qualified and also that they are briefed as to what the client requires. Failure to ensure that this happens can lead to work not being accepted and the redoing of work. It can also result in litigation something which it is advisable to avoid.  All these will result in costs which can reduce the profit for a contract.

Ensuring that the work is of an appropriate quality is the job of all people involved in the construction process. Each worker should be aware of what is acceptable and any work that does not meet that standard must be redone.  The way it is monitored is through the supervisors, site managers, clerk of work and architect/project manager.

3.1.5 Financial Implications

An effective quality system can significantly reduce operating costs.  Businesses waste as much as 25% of turnover on ineffective or inefficient processes which result in errors and waste.

One of the main factors in determining a supplier is the quality of the delivery of the product or service; it is the quality of the relationship with the customer that is important.

Quality costs are viewed as those incurred in excess of those that would have been incurred if the product were produced right first time.  Costs are not only direct but those resulting from lost customers, lost market share and other hidden costs.  Cost are not measured as the cost of rebuilding or scrapping but the extra over cost that is incurred based on what the cost would have been if everything had been built correctly the first time

The cost of quality measured against zero defects can be classified into four categories:
  1. Prevention - these are costs which remove or prevent defects from occurring eg quality planning and training.
  2. Appraisal – costs that are incurred to identify poor quality products after they occur but before shipment to customers eg inspection costs.
  3. Internal failure – costs incurred during the production process and include scrapping and rebuilding costs.
  4. External failure – these are the costs of rejected or returned work and include the hidden costs of customer dissatisfaction.


  Task 3.1.4 Meeting Quality Requirements

Explain how your company ensures that quality requirements are met.


Section 2. Monitoring Quality

Learning outcome: On completion the learner will: Know how to operate and maintain systems to monitor quality of work

3.2.1 Identifying and Correcting Defects
3.2.2 Quality Management Systems
3.2.3 Quality Plans
3.2.4 Testing

3.2.1 Identifying and Correcting Defects

Part of the system to monitor the quality of work is to identify the areas where defects can occur and to instigate measures which address the problems that can result in these areas. It also involves the assessment and rectification of any faults that are found.  They key thing is that all quality standards meet the requirements specified in statutory documents and in the contract.

Conforming to Contract

A number of clauses in the Conditions of Contract have an influence in the way that work is carried out and the quality of the finished project.

The contract will specify that the work must comply with all statutory regulations and the specification of the work should result in a building that achieves the required standards and quality.  The contract also provides for inspection of the work, goods and the materials both on and off site.  The contractor is responsible for ensuring that competent tradesmen are employed.

A clause covers levels and setting out of the work and for the uncovering of work for inspection if the architect feels that is necessary.

Setting out

In order to set out correctly the architect should provide the contractor with all the necessary information in order to set out correctly.  This will be in the way of dimensioned drawings and levels. Provided the dimensions are correct, the contractor is responsible for ensuring the building is set out correctly and he would be liable for any errors.

Work, Materials and Goods

This clause in the contract ensures that the quality of materials and workmanship will conform to the contract bills and relates to the information contained in the BofQ. The contractor must, if required to do so, prove that the materials being used are in accordance with the specified requirements.

Proof of materials can be shown by producing invoices or by tests which would be specified in the contract bill.  If the architect requires tests which are not specified in the contract bills these must be carried out by the contractor, the cost of which would be added to the contract sum.

The architect has the power to request the inspection or test of any part of the work up to the issue of the final certificate.  This may require the contractor to open up the works for inspection or testing.  The cost of opening up the work will be borne by the contractor if the inspection or tests show it is not in accordance with the contract. If it is in accordance then the cost will be added to the contract sum.

The architect also may require materials that do not conform to the contract to be removed from site and be replaced by those that do, the cost of this would be borne by the contractor.  There is no time limit for defect materials to be discovered.

Assessing, Recording and Resolving Work Problems

It is normal to have some form of procedure which will assess the work carried out. This will involve periodic checks as the work progresses and on completion such as ‘snagging’.  The procedure will have predetermined factors to look at which will be recorded on an assessment form. In the event of something not being acceptable a procedure will be in place to bring it to the attention of the person responsible in order that they can rectify it.

It is always worth considering why the work is not acceptable and then at how the problem can be rectified. Some common problems are listed in the table below together with suggested solutions.

Common Quality Problem

Suggested Solutions

Staff make mistakes because they have not been probably trained.

Ensure that everyone knows what their job is and how to do it.

Different people make the same product in their own way, causing variations in product quality.

Adopt best practice in doing a job and constantly use it.

People produce the wrong goods because they are using an out-of-date specification.

Ensure that everyone uses the current version of a document

Mistakes are made because the right person wasn’t involved in a decision.

Specify who will be responsible for quality.

Different departments do not talk to each other.

Ensure communication and co-operation between staff.

People don’t see quality as their responsibility.

Place responsibility for quality on those who produce the product.

Faulty products are delivered to the customer.

Carry out proper inspection checks.

When found, mistakes go uncorrected, and the same mistakes are regularly made.

Analyse product faults, correct them, and try to prevent them happening again.



  Task 3.2.1 Assessing Quality

Outline the system of inspection that should be used by an organisation and state how the outcome is recorded.


3.2.2 Quality Management Systems (QMS)

The Objectives of a Quality Management System is to organise a business so all the factors affecting the quality of the product or service produce are under control. The QMS defines the quality environment within a business. Every business is different and so each QMS will be unique. The system must:
  • be based on understanding your business, your customers and their requirements
  • be management led
  • involve all employees in its implementation
  • focus on preventing errors rather than merely detecting and correcting them
  • be able to evolve as the company changes.
The system embraces all areas of the organisation: marketing, contract acceptance, tendering, product design, production, delivery, service, finance and administration. The object is to ensure that only products or services that conform to the quality standards reach the customer.

Customers are increasingly expecting that their suppliers operate a QMS to provide assurance that they will only receive products or services that conform.  The independent approval of a company's QMS to an internationally recognised standard such as ISO9000 demonstrates provides evidence of this.

An effective Quality Management System will improve business performance because you will:
  • understand your customers requirements
  • know how to satisfy their requirements
  • understand how to organise and control your business to minimise errors and waste
  • improve profitability and competitiveness.

Quality is defined by the customer, therefore, you need to:
  • Determine what the customer wants
  • Produce what they want in the time frame at minimum cost
Quality is not only concerned with whether a product or service meets the claims for it but also the customers’ perception of the business. This is based on the product or service and on the day-to-day contact he has with your staff.  Quality concerns how you meet all your customers requirements including how they are greeted on the telephone or office, the speed in which they receive a reply and in ensuring that letters or invoices are correct. Everyone must be involved.

Quality not only concerns the costs related to product or services failure, which involves rework and indemnity or warranty claims, but also administration, excessive debtor days or when customer requirements haven't been fully determined.

An investment in prevention activities such as planning, effective procedures, training or equipment maintenance can reduce the cost of failure and appraisal costs.

The benefits of implementing a successful Quality Management System (QMS) are:
  • Improved customer satisfaction
  • Elimination of errors and waste
  • Reduced operating costs
  • Increased motivation and commitment from employees
  • Increased profitability and competitiveness.
Benefits of a QMS

An approved QMS demonstrates that the company is committed to quality and that it is able to:
  • Identify the requirements of its customers
  • Ensure it is able to supply products and services in accordance with those requirements
  • Ensure delivered products conform to those requirements.
The standards only define what must be controlled, not how control is to be achieved.

The following are typical of the benefits of a well planned QMS:
  • Satisfied and loyal customers due to goods or services always being produced according to requirements
  • Reduced operating costs as waste is eliminated or reduced and efficiency increased as a result of eliminating non-conformance.
  • Improved competitiveness and profitability as operating costs are reduced
  • Improved morale as employees develop greater understanding of the business, are able to work efficiently, and are involved managing their working environment.
Benefits of External Assessment and Registration

You do not need external assessment though it does have a number of benefits:
  • It provides evidence that a QMS has been implemented, important as a marketing tool in some situations.
  • Most customers accept and recognise ISO9000 approval.
  • Provides evidence of a responsible attitude to quality.

Managers must ensure:
  • The quality aims are understood by everyone
  • There is a commitment to quality
  • Workers are encouraged to ensure work is carried out to the requirements.
Quality standards do not specify any technical requirements for a product or service.  They only cover the requirements of the management system.  They are therefore complimentary to any technical standards which may apply.

A company is successful because it understands the marketplace and customer requirements.  They succeed because they are able to provide products or services which meet their customers’ requirements and make a profit.

Care must be taken to ensure that the company doesn't implement a QMS just to gain ISO9000 registration as this will not benefit them but will just introduce bureaucracy which will develop into a liability.

The task of a manager is to ensure processes are controlled so they produce outputs which are within the acceptable limits in order that the customer requirements are met.


  Task 3.2.2 Quality Management Systems

Explain why a Quality Management System would be used by a construction company.


3.2.3 Quality Plans

A quality plan can be produced to define:
  • working methods and procedures
  • standards for deliverables
  • standards for supervision and review
  • project checkpoints
  • user involvement.

The plan is used to improve and assure the quality of the project and will involve the following:
  • Setting Objectives.  Set out what you want to achieve and the standard of quality that you expect from the product or service that you are trying to produce or the initiative that you are undertaking.
  • Assessment. Determine how these objectives will be assessed and how you will confirm that the requirements have been achieved. The objectives should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely (SMART).
  • Quality plan. The plan puts in place quality assurance processes to ensure that the desired quality is achieved and tests to provide evidence. Quality planning should demonstrate that the outputs meet the objectives and criteria in a straightforward and neutral way.
  • Implementation. This lays down what is to be done, by whom and when.
  • Evaluation. Measure the success of what you set out to do. For a project or programme, this tends to relate to achievements, outcomes, what was learned and how this changes things. 
Management must give a clear lead on setting standards and in ensuring that they are attained. This is particularly important when incentive schemes, based on output, are employed. 
Details and guidance on Quality Plans can be found on the web.


  Task 3.2.3 Quality Plans

Produce a quality management plan for an activity or operation on a contract.


3.2.4 Testing

In order to ensure that aspects of the work conforms to specification and that the quality meets the required standard a number of on and off site test can be carried out.
Materials Testing

All the materials used in today’s construction projects have to meet exacting specifications and standards. Testing these materials and demonstrating compliance with these standards is a generally a mandatory requirement and is designed to:
  • Demonstrate compliance with British Standards or other required specifications
  • Identify and characterise materials
  • Identify risk of non-compliant materials and remedial solutions
  • Investigate possible contamination of land or groundwater
  • Demonstrate quality of workmanship
  • Independent evaluation

There are many different tests which can be performed on Construction materials and those which are required will depend upon:
  • Type and location of the site
  • Contractual agreements
  • Client/Local Authority requirements
  • Type of construction work being carried out

Materials testing can be on site (in-situ) or samples taken and sent to a materials testing laboratory, dependent upon the type of testing being undertaken. 
On Site Testing

Testing can be performed in-situ by competent personnel.

Nuclear Density Meter Testing (NDM)

The NDM can be used on newly laid bituminous materials to control compaction.  It can also be used to control the placement and compaction of earthworks e.g for landfill sites


Evaluation of bearing capacity and compaction of laid materials

This is carried out by:
  • Plate bearing tests
  • Plate loading tests
  • Dynamic plate tests
  • Dynamic Cone Penetrometer tests

Testing of Fresh Concrete
  • Slump Test
  • Manufacture of concrete cubes for compression testing in the laboratory

Laboratory Testing (off site)

Samples are taken from the site and returned to the laboratory for analysis. It is essential that samples taken from site for testing are sampled in accordance with standard procedures to ensure a representative sample is taken and that they are transported, stored and labelled correctly to minimise the possibility incorrect or erroneous results.  It is particularly important to note the location where the sample was taken as areas of non-compliance or contamination can be easily identified.

Testing may include
  • Chemical and electro-chemical Testing
    • sulphate and chloride testing of concrete, soils, aggregates and groundwater,
    • pH value of water and soil
    • Organic matter content of soil
    • Contamination testing such as hydrocarbon petrochemicals, arsenic or heavy metals
  • Classification Tests
    • Atterberg Tests of soils
  • Physical Tests
    • Particle size of soils and aggregates
    • Moisture content of soils and aggregates
    • California Bearing Ratio (CBR)
    • Frost Heave of Aggregates
  • Concrete Tests
    • Compressive Strength and Density of Hardened Concrete Cubes

Evaluation of Results

Following testing, the client receives informative reports to assist and support engineering, design and construction decisions relating to such items as:
  • Ground improvement
  • Foundation design
  • Compaction control of soil, aggregates and bituminous material
  • Bearing capacity assessment
  • Road pavement design
  • Subgrade characteristics
Where areas of non-compliance to required standards are found, dependant on the significance of the non-compliance, remedial measures may be taken or further investigation may be required to establish the extent of the failure.

In the case of any ground contamination, this will have to be made safe before work can commence on the site.


Section 3. Sustainability & Quality

Learning outcome:  On completion the learner will: Know how to establish methods of work that will ensure sustainable quality in the project.

3.3.1 Sustainability Issues on site
3.3.2 Protecting the Environment
3.3.3 Maintaining Environmental Records 

3.3.1 Sustainability Issues on site

Sustainable means “maintaining something’s viability by using techniques that allow continual reuse”. So if we are looking at the methods of work that will ensure sustainable quality on site we need to look at the following:
  • not damaging the environment with the work
  • not depleting natural resources
  • supporting long-term ecological balance

The way that this is done is through the following:
  • minimise waste
  • re-cycle materials
  • minimise energy in construction & use
  • conserve water resources
  • avoid pollution
  • preserve & enhance biodiversity
  • respect people & local environment
  • monitor & report, (i.e. use benchmarks)
In order for these factors to be effective all personnel need to be aware of the effect that each of the points listed above will affect the project. This will involve the training of personnel in the methods of work to be used so that the environment is considered.

It is important that systems are in place to ensure that work carried out is consistent with the factors to reduce the negative effects and promote the positive ones. In many companies the requirements will be specified in the Environmental Policy which the site manager must be familiar with and incorporate into the methods of work for each project. In order to ensure that personnel conform to the requirements specific individuals will need to be made responsible for adhering and confirming that the work is carried out in a manner that is sympathetic to the requirements. Although as a site manager you would be responsible to ensure that all aspects relating to sustainability during the construction phase are considered, actioned, monitored and enforced and that any appropriate records are maintained.

The failure to consider these can have an adverse affect on the quality of the work produced, the perception of the company by the public and, if a breach of any legislation results, in the imposing of a fine. Consequently the site manager will need to ensure that any breaches are dealt with quickly and efficiently.


The Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) sets the standard for best practice in sustainable building design, construction and operation and is a widely recognised measure of a building's environmental performance. Carried out by external licensed assessors it addresses wide-ranging environmental and sustainability issues and enables developers and designers to prove the environmental credentials of their buildings to planners and clients.
The site manager must be aware that materials which appear green or environmentally friendly do not necessarily produce the best quality of construction and may well result in additional maintenance and repair throughout the life span of the structure. Similarly, materials which are of composite construction may use vapour barriers and other materials which must be incorporated into the structure in a defined and certainly careful manner if the integrity of the units are to be preserved.
Quality means setting a standard and monitoring that standard to ensure that the work incorporated into the structure meets a predetermined specification. Where substandard materials are accepted or specified materials incorporated into the structure in a manner which does not comply with specified standards of workmanship, the object of the use and incorporation of sustainable materials may be defeated.
Sustainability is also about minimising waste; construction design should take into account standard panel sizes produced by the manufacturer ensuring that these fit into an integrated system without undue waste. Minimising waste would be enhanced by the use of Integrated Modular Design Systems of construction whereby all components are prefabricated to be fitted together on site.
Any waste should be collected and recycled as far as possible to recover materials or seek an alternative use, as an example: whilst short ends of timber cannot generally be used they can be used in chipboard production or similar and as a last and final result clean timber can be used to produce energy.  Quality monitoring and effective Site Management will ensure that waste is minimised and recycling is a factor which everyone to must promote. 
In many respects the key to quality on site is good leadership and management by education of the workforce; most operatives know and understand what quality is and how sustainability can be enhanced by maintaining a positive response; the trick is to ensure that all are pro-active and never complacent.
It also must be appreciated that sustainability is not just about materials and workmanship, other factors which all form part of sustainability are the responsibility of the Site manager all result in improved quality of site presentation, workmanship and reputation of the company. 



  Task 3.3.1 Sustainability on Site

Discuss the ways in which Site Managers can monitor the quality of materials and workmanship on site in a manner which maintains sustainability and maximises the opportunity to Recycle and Recover Material.

3.3.2. Protecting the Environment

The way that the company will protect the environment is set out in the Environment Policy.

Environmental Policy

This is a statement of a company's stance towards the environment in which it operates. It is a commitment to implement and enforce the measures within the company organisation and method of work to protect the environment.

All environmental commitments should be an integral part of the day to day activities, clearly communicated to all employees and may form part of application for ISO 14001 certification or registration under the EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) which is a voluntary scheme which allows all types of organizations to improve their environmental performance and achieve recognition.

Contents of a Policy

Although there is no legal requirement or standard structure for an environmental policy there are key aspects that it should contain. It should state what the key objectives of the company is; who is accountable and how these are going to be achieved and by whom.

In addition, the policy should contain brief statements on the following:
  • The business mission and information about its operations. Bear in mind that if your business activities or operations change significantly, you may need to amend the policy.
  • A commitment to continually improve your environmental performance.
  • A commitment to prevent pollution and effectively manage your significant environmental impacts.
  • The expectations that your business has in relation to external parties such as suppliers and contractors.
  • Recognition that you will comply with relevant environmental legislation as a minimum level of performance.
  • Education and training of employees in environmental issues and the environmental effects of their activities.
  • Monitoring progress and reviewing environmental performance against targets and objectives on a regular basis (usually yearly or in the first six months initially).
  • A commitment to communicate your business' environmental aims and objectives to all staff, as well as to customers, investors and other external stakeholders. 
It may also include additional issues relevant to your business that you may wish to address in your environmental policy, these could include:
  • transport - for example the vehicles you own or use
  • minimising waste - yours and from suppliers
  • reusing packaging and other materials
  • recycling
  • efficient use of water and energy
  • use of biodegradable chemicals
  • minimising use of solvents and lead-based paints
  • use of timber or wood products from sustainable (managed) forests
  • procedures to minimise noise disturbance to neighbours
  • phasing out of ozone-depleting substances 
An example of an Environment Policy can be seen by clicking on the link in the left hand column.

There is no standard content for an environmental policy, although policies normally contain similar themes. Your policy should be personal to your business, so it should reflect the business' main activities, priorities and concerns.

Before you write your policy you should assess which aspects of your business affect the environment and what the potential impacts are. The content of the policy should be based on the results of the assessment, which should have identified the key environmental issues that apply to the business.

Senior management must be involved in the production of the policy and must understand the principles and be committed to it. It's not compulsory to have an environmental policy but an increasing number of businesses are choosing to have one and one will be needed the company wishes to obtain an environmental management standard, such as the European Union Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS), BS 8555 or ISO 14001. It's also vital if you currently work or intend to work with large organisations, or if you need to demonstrate to customers and other stakeholders that you are committed to managing your environmental impacts in a responsible way.


  Task 3.3.2 Environment Policy

Produce an Environmental Policy for your site.


3.3.3 Maintaining Environmental Records

The retention of records is essential to prove that your company complies with legislation and government regulations and proves you have fulfilled your environmental responsibilities: The regulations that apply include:
  • Environment Protection Act 1990
  • Environment Protection (Transport) Regulations
  • Environment Protection (Prescribed Waste) Regulations
  • Occupational Health & Safety (Incident Notification) Regulations
  • Occupational Health & Safety (Issue Resolution) Regulations
In addition to showing compliance to the regulations it also enables the monitoring and improvement of the measures used.

The records will include:
  • Trade Waste Agreement
  • Transport certificates from the contractors and companies for the removal of Prescribed Wastes. (Invoices will suffice)
  • Improvement Reports to record problems, solution and other improvements
  • Records of the employee meetings and training sessions held with attendees
  • Environmental Controls
Ensure that training induction records prove that all employees are assessed for their competence regarding their proper use of Occupational Health & Safety and Environmental issues.

All unusual environmental events should be recorded in the site diary. 

Records will also be kept regarding the following:
  • Identification of Legal and Other Requirements
  • Determination of Environmental Aspects and Setting Objectives and Targets
  • External Stakeholder Communication Record
  • Management Review Record
  • Training Needs Analysis—Environmental Courses
  • Training Needs Analysis—Procedures and Work Instructions by Area/Department
  • Project Environmental Checklist
  • Corrective and Preventive Actions
  • Request Corrective and Preventive Action Tracking Log
  • Environmental Briefing Packet
  • Contractor Method Statements
  • Internal Audit Checklist
  • Details of Responsibilities
  • Environmental Management Programmes 
Environmental records should be kept for at least 3 years, which means having the system in place to store and locate documents.  One way of doing this is to record them in an index as shown below in Figure 3.3.1

Figure 3.3.1 Record Index


Unit Complete
You have now completed Unit 3, and you should complete the assignment and send it to

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