VGC is heavily involved in the £848 million capacity upgrade of the M4 motorway.
Our teams are working on all aspects of the project including vegetation clearance, enabling works on the verges, drainage, structures, concreting the temporary crash barrier and work on the central reservation. Teams will later move to installation of cats eyes, tarmac, cabling and ducting as well as structural builds including formwork and steelwork for gantry and bridge bases.
Almost all of the people we’re providing on the project are local, living along the M4 route.
As well as skilled trades and labour, managed by labour manager James Andrews, VGC has provided a range of administration, technical and engineering staff to the project.
A number of our people have been promoted on the project. They include:
Mihai Cristian (Chris) Radu, promoted to section foreman after we funded his SMSTS training.
- Daniel Paladescu, promoted from general operative to ganger
- Vasile Dinga, promoted from groundworker to ganger
- Catalin Vatafu, promoted from driver to multi-skilled operative
- Krzysztof Linkiewicz, promoted from dumper roller driver to earth works ganger
- Phil Dooley, promoted from earthworks ganger to section foreman
- Florin Saghina and Amarpreet Singh, promoted from ganger to earthworks ganger
- Iulian Fartade, promoted from groundworker to multi-skilled operative
- Callum Lambourne was promoted from plant vehicle marshal to ganger, and then to earthworks ganger. Callum was shortlisted for a ‘go beyond’ award in December 2020.
- Manjinder Takhar, promoted from dumper / roller driver to ganger
- Harmanpreet Gir and Nicolae Ciprian Cercel, promoted from plant vehicle marshal to groundworker
- Borislav Evitmov, promoted from ganger to earthworks ganger.
- Kaloyan Georgiev, promoted from plant-vehicle marshal to groundworker.
We’ve funded training for people to develop their careers. These include earthworks gangers Satantar Singh and Gigi Falcan who both passed their NVQ level 3 Occupational Work Supervision in February 2021. They can now move on to applying for their CSCS gold cards.
In December 2020, our people won two awards “in recognition of unsung health, safety and wellbeing heroes working on the project.” head of HSQE Richard Wheeler won his for building a positive health and safety culture on the project, and the cleaning and maintenance team won an award for “their continued hard work in difficult times”. The M4 project director said that without them, the project would simply have shut down.
In October 2020, earthworks ganger Borislav Evtimov won an award from the project for spotting a permit issue with ducting in an excavation.
In March 2020, Mihai Chris Radu won an M4 TRIP award after he proposed an innovative sub-duct solution that removed the need for traffic management which the team was having trouble securing. (The M4 TRIP awards recognise trust, transparency, respect, support integrity, simplicity and passion.)
In August 2020, earthworks ganger Aaron Strovers received an award for his safety-cautious approach, raising an alert when he smelled gas.
VGC won the project’s sub-contractor of the month award in March 2020, thanks largely to all the time Richard Wheeler has put in to support our clients.
In November 2019, our team achieved a safety culture score of 300 on client BBV’s ‘pyramid’ system.
We’re the first supplier to achieve this score, which saw us win ‘supply contractor of the month’.
Our HSQE team carries out monthly face-fit testing on site.
Head of HSQE Richard Wheeler and HSQE adviser Ben Keegan run regular sessions. They include people from Balfour Beatty, Danny Sullivan, Fortel, Hercules and Zone as well as VGC. Face-fit checks make sure dust masks (respiratory protective equipment or RPE) fit properly, to reduce the risks from dust and particulates.
The test involves the worker putting on the mask as usual, and then putting a hood over the top. Then the tester sprays a chemical into the hood: it is very bitter but not harmful. If the mask fits properly, the worker won’t taste it at all. If they taste it, our HSQE expert will teach them how to fit their mask properly for when they’re on site around dangerous dust particles.
HSQE manager Richard Wheeler, supported by labour manager James Andrews, delivers regular traffic marshal safety training to operatives on the project.
The training is open to all operatives, from other labour suppliers Zone, Danny Sullivan and Fortel, as well as client and VGC people. The more aware people are of safe behaviour around plant and vehicles, the less likely there is to be an accident. Fiona has made a video about plant people interface and keeping safe around vehicles.
Richard delivered Make Safety Personal behavioural safety training to the workforce as part of the post-Christmas re-induction. James and Richard also joined our partner labour suppliers in post-Christmas drug and alcohol testing in January 2020 for everyone on the project.
Helping to keep everyone safe
After he discovered they had a problem with face-fit testing, Richard stepped in at short notice to help out a fellow contractor before an important weekend of bridge works on 3 – 5 April. He overcame the challenges of extra cleaning and distancing to reduce the risks from coronavirus, and tested 20 operatives from Cleveland Bridge so the works could go ahead. The bridge works for the weekend were completed ahead of schedule.
The Smart Motorways programme director said:
Great to see the measures being taken to keep work progressing whilst keeping the teams safe and in line with PHE guidelines.
Balfour Beatty’s project director said:
Thanks, Richard, for your help again.
And the Smart Motorways project H&S manager said:
Thanks for sorting this training out at such short notice, Richard.
VGC Projects facilitated key vegetation clearance along the route, and assisted with testing an innovative prefabricated emergency refuge area. Working offsite, we installed a test slab at a site in Gloucestershire, trialling a new modular unit technique which is expected to save considerable time and money on the project.
Eleven bridges over the motorway need to be replaced to make room for a new lane where there is no existing hard shoulder, and four more will be widened. VGC Projects carried out deep trial hole investigations to confirm the size of the Windsor bridge foundations before widening works.
This Highways England project will improve the M4 by making it a smart motorway.
The M4 carries an average of 130,000 vehicles a day, and this section of the motorway is frequently congested. New signs and signals will be used to vary the speed limit to reduce congestion at busy times. They will also control traffic if there is an obstruction on the road ahead. In the longest smart motorway project in England to date (51km), the motorway will be widened to four lanes in both directions. The hard shoulder will be removed and there will be adjustments to slip roads and motorway intersections between junctions 3 (Hayes) and 12 (Theale).
New signage and smart technology will enable proactive management of the motorway in the event of heavy traffic or accidents.