BSI reveals increased risks of modern day slavery in UK construction
Research from the British Standards Institution (BSI) has revealed the source countries which pose the highest risk of modern day slavery to the UK and its construction industry through its global supply chains.
The BSI Trafficking & Supply Chain Slavery Patterns Index has found that:
- China, from where 18 percent of annual construction materials imported to the UK in 2015 originated, is ranked as a high risk source country of modern day slavery to the UK.
- Italy is also ranked by the proprietary Index as high risk. Fully 6.4 percent of the total of £13.82 billion of construction materials imported into the UK were from Italy.
- 191 source countries and 193 destination countries ranked from low to severe based on the risk score.
BSI’s unique Trafficking & Supply Chain Slavery Patterns Index shines a critical light for business, government and civil society to understand the risk associated with the movement and exploitation of people between 191 source countries and 193 destination countries. Each combination of countries has been ranked from low to severe based on the risk score.
Chris McCann, Principal Consultant, Supply Chain Services and Solutions at BSI, said: “The construction industry has been identified by the UK Independent Anti-Slavery Commission as one of its four core focus sectors. This Index, along with BSI’s risk management services and solutions, empowers sector organizations to focus their efforts on identifying and assessing ‘at-risk’ suppliers and to manage the risks proactively to safeguard their workforce and protect their own reputation.”
The Modern Slavery Act 2015 (MSA) is bringing the issue of modern slavery and human trafficking to the attention of British businesses and civil society. Its Section 54 clause, Transparency in Supply Chains (TISC), highlights the risk to business of finding examples of it in global supply chains. Several high-profile court cases have highlighted the illegal practices taking place across Britain.
Dr Shamir Ghumra, Director, Centre for Sustainable Products, BRE, said: ”This index from BSI brings another useful dataset to the market to support the struggle to eradicate modern slavery both at home and overseas. Global supply chains are inherently complex with goods and services often coming from multiple sources. By having a better understanding of the true provenance of our products and labour services we stand a much better chance of painting a realistic picture to then take positive steps.”
BSI’s Trafficking & Supply Chain Slavery Patterns Index has been developed to assist companies, and, for example, police authorities in several ways. For example, a company working in the construction sector that employs agency workers may wish to pay closer attention to workers from a high-risk country – forced labour often takes place in open sight, not only behind closed doors or in secret, both overseas and in the UK.
The Index’s inputs include BSI’s proprietary SCREEN Forced Labor Intelligence along with independent trafficking and exploitation data, economic disparity, and countries’ geographical proximity information. The data has been verified against the citations made by credible sources to provide a holistic understanding of the probability of these types of abuses, threats and risks as well as real-world documented cases.
The Index’s lead developer, Michiko Shima, BSI, said: “The presentation of tens of thousands of pairings of source/destination countries and their relative risk provides a broad understanding of the breadth of threats to global supply chains. These include human rights abuses, security threats and business continuity risks.”
Read the January 2017 issue of Construction Global here
Why engineers must always consider human-induced vibration
Human induced vibration, or more accurately vibrations caused by human footfall, often conjures images of Millennium Bridge-style swaying or collapsing buildings.
But in reality, the ‘damage’ caused by human-induced vibrations is less likely to ruin a structure and more likely to cause discomfort in people. Though not as dramatic as a structural failure, any good engineer wants to make sure the people using their structures, be it bridges or buildings or anything in between, can do so safely and comfortably. This is why human-induced vibration must be considered within the design process.
Resonance v Impulse
There are two ways that human-induced vibrations affect structures: resonant, and impulse or transient response. Put simply, resonance occurs when Object A vibrates at the same natural frequency as Object B.
Object B resonates and begins to vibrate too. Think singing to break a wine glass! Although the person singing isn’t touching the glass, the vibrations of their voice are resonating with the glass’s natural frequency, causing this vibration to get stronger and stronger and eventually, break the glass. In the case of a structure, resonance occurs when the pedestrian’s feet land in time with the vibration.
On the other hand, impulse or transient vibration responses can be a problem on structures where its natural frequencies are too high for resonance to occur, such as where the structure is light or stiff. Here the discomfort is caused by the initial “bounce” of the structure caused by the footstep and is a concern on light or stiff structures.
Engineers must, of course, design to reduce the vibration effects caused by either impulse or resonance.
Potential impacts from human induced vibration
Human induced vibration can lead to a number of effects upon the structure and its users. These include:
- Interfering with sensitive equipment Depending on the building’s purpose, what it houses can be affected by the vibrations of people using the building. Universities and laboratories, for example, may have sensitive equipment whose accuracy and performance could be damaged by vibrations. Even in ordinary offices the footfall vibration can wobble computer screens, upsetting the workers.
- Swaying bridges One of the most famous examples of human-induced resonance impacting a structure occurred with the Millennium Bridge. As people walked across the bridge, the footsteps caused the bridge to sway, and everybody had to walk in time with the sway because it was difficult not to. Thankfully, this feedback can only occur with horizontal vibrations so building floors are safe from it, but footbridges need careful checking to prevent it.
- Human discomfort According to research, vibrations in buildings and structures can cause depression and even motion sickness in inhabitants. Tall buildings sway in the wind and footsteps can be felt, even subconsciously by the occupants. It has been argued that modern efficient designs featuring thinner floor slabs and wider spacing in column design mean that these new builds are not as effective at dampening vibrations as older buildings are.
- Jeopardising structural integrity The build-up of constant vibrations on a structure can, eventually, lead to structural integrity being compromised. A worse-case scenario would be the complete collapse of the structure and is the reason some bridges insist that marching troops break step before crossing. Crowds jumping in time to music or in response to a goal in a stadium are also dynamic loads that might damage an under-designed structure.
How to avoid it
As mentioned, modern designs that favour thinner slabs and wider column spacing are particularly susceptible to all forms of vibration, human-induced or otherwise, but short spans can also suffer due to their low mass. Using sophisticated structural engineering software is an effective method for engineers to test for and mitigate footfall and other vibrations at the design stage.