Bringing lasting community value to the building of a new primary school – Morrison Construction

Morrison Construction is one of the nation’s leading construction and housebuilding businesses, delivering more than £1 billion of public and private sector projects throughout Scotland in the last five years.

Part of the Galliford Try group and with an award-winning portfolio, Morrison Construction undertakes a range of activities, from the construction of multi-million pound buildings and civil engineering projects, to small works, repairs and maintenance.

Based in the centre of a large housing estate in the far north of Scotland, Wick Noss Primary School is located in Wick, 16 miles south of John O’Groats. Morrison Construction carried out the project on behalf of client, Hub North Scotland, a partnership of public and private sector organisations delivering local services across the north of Scotland.

This new state of the art primary school will have provision for 387 pupils and a project value of £14.7m. The structure is a steel frame on strip foundations, and timber kit assembly with the standing seam roof. It will replace the existing North and Hillhead Primary Schools and will comprise 14 classrooms, a library, two nursery rooms, two learning support rooms, a games hall, a dining area and medical room.

Outlining the hurdles encountered during the work, Ian Neil said:

“There have been challenges, constraints and implications of working in the heart of a residential area and working in a ‘live’ environment next to a primary school. However, we have been very lucky here; when we first started on site, we hired a very good administration assistant and three apprentices from the area who advised us what was expected by the local community.

“During the early stages of the project there was a spell of nasty, inclement weather which caused damage to local gardens. We assisted with a big ‘clean up’ and the local community were very grateful for this. One thing we implemented early on in the project was delivery restrictions; importantly we stopped deliveries when the school pupils were entering and leaving school and this included lunch times.”

You can read many more examples of best practice implemented by Morrison Construction:

  • Viewing points for staff and pupils in the hoarding enabled observation of the site works.
  • A designated labourer was tasked with ensuring the fence and hoarding was checked daily for security and litter.
  • Skips were discretely placed on site and labelled for segregation. 
  • Newsletters were issued to neighbours, schools and community groups containing updates on work activities, community involvement, reference to the Scheme and working hours.
  • The site team notified residents and the local community on a regular basis by letter drops about project progress, and also took the time to explain the works when approached by passers-by which helped to strengthen community relations.
  • The project manager was part of the Gala committee and donations were made to the local lifeboat station for raffle prizes.
  • Morrison Construction’s site team supported the Wick Lifeboat Station as their chosen charity for over a year, building up an excellent relationship through various events.
  • The Lifeboat has a Big Harbour Day every year and asked the team if they would make stalls or shelters for the stall holders as their old ones had seen better days. The team built them new ones and the crew was delighted as they could dismantle, store and reuse them.
  • The site team was invited down to the lifeboat station to go out on the lifeboat with the crew.
  • Other community involvement included assisting the school with the Green Flag Eco-Schools initiative to achieve environmental awards, which included donations of water hippos and hands-on training and the involvement of operatives and engineers.
  • The team also provided the school with a new football kit, as well as goody bags to the pupils moving up to secondary school.
  • Organised through head office, the company attended careers evenings at schools, colleges and universities.
  • The carbon footprint was measured and energy use was continually monitored, with the feedback used in forward planning to effectively reduce energy usage.
  • As the welfare and office accommodation was located within existing structures, this reduced the carbon footprint.
  • The company is accredited to ISO 9000, 14000 and 18000 and there were a number of graphs in the welfare area and office showing energy usage.
  • Information on energy and sustainability figures was made available through a dashboard.
  • Bird feeders were installed on site and a COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) store was in place, with a designated fuel area.
  • The company had a specialist environmental engineer who visited the site regularly and carried out audits.
  • The company employed a ‘challenging beliefs and behaviour’ initiative, in addition to a NAB scheme, which was conducted on an individual or group level; this was a weekly workforce safety meeting, and the minutes were posted on the notice board.
  • The streets on both sides of the site were well lit and safety signage was present at both the compound and site entrance.
  • All vehicles had reversing warning systems and there was a five mile an hour speed limit on site.
  • Language differences and visually and hearing impaired operatives were risk-assessed during induction to ensure safety of the individual and others on site.
  • The company’s drugs and alcohol policy was on display and was covered at induction, with random testing would take place.
  • Bracelets were issued by the company which indicated stress levels. It was company policy that if readings were high, the operative or manager must retire to the quiet room for a minimum of 30 minutes or until the stress levels had reduced.
  • Keen to offer work opportunities, a former pupil of the school was doing an apprenticeship and working in the site office as an administrator, while other students were engaged in work placements on site.
  • A variety of posters on health issues and healthy lifestyle advice were displayed in the office, welfare areas and toilets. These included mental health information.
  • Separate changing rooms were available and a quiet room was set aside for religious and other considerations.
  • Literacy skills were checked at induction and training offered as necessary. 

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