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Working on the night shift offers a competitive edge

A WORK practice generally avoided by the construction industry has been embraced with great success by Broad Constructions Services on the Woolworths shopping complex in the Murray Street mall.

Night shifts have been in operation at the project site since February this year and have been hailed by Broad as the most productive and successful in recent history.

Broad director John Norup said night shifts had been shunned by the construction industry as unproductive and costly, but the company and its workers had enjoyed proving the industry wrong.

The night shift starts at 4.00pm and finishes at 12.30am each day, with work during the shift includ-ing concrete formwork, waterproofing, excavation, rigging and pre-cast installation.

“It is normal for shifts to be extended into the night, but to have an actual separate night shift is fairly rare,” Mr Norup said.

“It is considered expensive because, for a start, you have to light up an area the size of a football field to achieve a safe working environment.

“And because workers are working odd hours, in the past there has been low morale and therefore low productivity.

“But we have done a lot more planning than what is usually put into these night shift operations, we even employed additional staff whose sole responsibility is to ensure a smooth handover from day shift to night shift … and we have an extremely enthusiastic team and a very happy client.”

Broad was handed an ambitious brief by developers Saracen Properties to have the centre completed by Christmas 2001.

And when the now-collapsed retail giant Harris Scarfe initially signed up to move into the development, Saracen Properties director Luke Saraceni came up with a request for an additional floor.

“We had an amazing request from the developer … and our team has come back with an amazing re-sponse and given the project everything to meet the deadline,” Mr Norup said.

Master Builders Association industrial relations manager Kim Richardson agreed that, as a general rule, night shifts were an unusual exercise.

“But in shopping centre constructions or refurbishments they are more common,” Mr Richardson said.

“In these cases a developer will often have a certain time that the centre must be open and trading by and there will be shift work undertaken to meet this.

“Night shifts are a costly exercise, with night shift workers receiving a penalty rate, hire of generators to run the lights and increased equipment hire costs however. As long as these are factored into the equation and the developer understands these extra costs, then the builder should not be problems.”

Mr Norup said Broad’s latest feat would give the company an edge in bidding for contracts with a tight construction period.

“It is a competitive edge … it does give us immense credibility. Even though we are not the same size as someone like Multiplex, we can pull together our resources and meet tight deadlines,” he said.

Mr Norup said the Murray Street project was just one of several the company had fast tracked in the past year, with others including the Northbridge Supermail Centre and the Freight Park industrial project.

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