The Challenges faced by site managers

The Challenges faced by site managers

Chris Naylor

Chris Naylor – Site manager at Octavius

Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing Chris Naylor, a site manager at Octavius. Chris enjoys his work at Octavius and the challenges of the job. Octavius are the main contracted rail engineer on a specific site at Tolworth train station, Tolworth is part of Greater London (Royal Borough of Kinston upon Thames) and is a South Western railway station. Chris is the site manager working on an Infrastructure programme for Network Rail.

I asked what their biggest challenges were out of:
1. keeping to the schedule/ programme,
2. maintaining quality,
3. and keeping to the budget.

1. Schedule/ Time:
Their biggest challenge is that of keeping to the schedule.
Octavius is dependent on contractors providing accurate information updates on the programme schedule, in order to keep it up to date.
On this particular project, Octavius are renewing the lighting and the cabling within the station demise.
The materials and tooling supply requirements are based on the Civil Engineering and Electrical requirements, and they need to decommission the existing electrics.
Any delays on purchases of materials e.g. lamps or the columns, cause delays.
When planning, they work backwards from the delivery date of materials e.g. the lamps, and they have a two week contingency for the delivery of materials.

The biggest cause of delays is if there are issues with procuring materials and the lead times are getting further and further out.

Everyone needs to be transparent when it comes to preventing delays, so that workarounds can be put in place.
The contractors procure the materials so they take on the risk of inflation. However, there is a charge against purchase which would cover this.
Octavius manages the interface between contractors and suppliers.
Octavius provide metal storage containers for materials and tools and these are very robust and vandal proof.
Contractors provide their own liability insurance as does Octavius.

It is easy enough for Octavius to find contractors.
The contractors on this particular project come from Sussex, Wessex, and central London.

2. Quality:
Octavius provide and maintain the standards and the quality of work, so everything is documented and tested.
Keeping to the quality standards is easy for them as this is their core skill.
The ITP (Installation Test Plan) creates test cubes for the concrete pouring, and then all they need to do is keep to the design, the depth, the thickness, the layout, etc.
Octavius oversee all the work that has been carried out and they’re registered to Network Rail as a Principal Contractor .

3. Budget/ Costs:
Costs are worked out before “any boots are on the ground”. So all the planning is done beforehand.
The Octavius Project Manager oversees the costs using floats in other parts of the budget, if necessary.
The contractors are responsible for procuring the materials, which is provided within their initial price.

Risks to budget and changes to the design, i.e. variations, cause an early warning notice to be given to the client, e.g. finding an unexpected gas pipe which requires extra metres of ducting. In this way unexpected costs are covered.

Octavius pays for:
1. the welfare storage,
2. the cost of renting the car park,
3. drinking water,
4. waste management,
5. toilets,
6. health and safety,
7. first aid equipment,
8. PPE (additional)
9. and welfare cabins for signing in, briefings, and reviewing the work packages from the Civil engineers.

If high risk work is planned to be carried out on the track, this work plan is reviewed by Network Rail first.
Octavius’s own CRE read and review work packages which are created by the Civil Engineers. This creates a task briefing.
There are five to six tasks in a task briefing.
Octavius mobilise the site and identify risks.
For example, Octavius identify any risks of traffic management, risk of the general public, (for that, for example, they have extra fencing).
Octavius are responsible for safety and the facilitation of quality control.
They have three or four contractors who have passed audits on health and safety.
There is always the risk of theft.
e.g. Cable drums could be left exposed on site and they don’t want these to be visible to opportunists.
To counter this they plan delivery on a specific time and day, so that materials are used straight away.
If this isn’t possible Octavius use their own main storage depo in Basingstoke for longer storage, and have materials delivered from there on a specific date and time.

When working nights, Chris goes to sleep as soon as he gets home in the morning at 6am, then wakes up in the afternoon, has his free time, and then goes to sleep in the late afternoon and back to work in the evening. Not everyone can safely travel home for respite and SPOD is in the business of providing a safe space for shift workers at infrastructure and construction sites. What are your experiences of shift work and sleep? Contact Nicole at or 07830786315 to discuss solutions or for further information.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *