Construction in the 1990s

As we continue to celebrate our 50th year, we continue Natta’s reflection on construction through the decades. Moving onto the 1990s.

Health & Safety

The advancement of plant and equipment greatly increased health and safety on construction sites. New types of machinery such as high-reach excavators and mobile elevated work platforms made it a lot safer to work at heights with safety nets also becoming more common to use.

Although hugely prevalent now, the use of PPE only started to be pushed in the 1990s. The ‘Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulation’ was introduced in 1993 which saw a considerable increase in correct PPE being worn on site.

Later in 1994, the ‘Construction Design and Management Regulation’ came into play. These new regulations meant that clients, designers and contractors now had to coordinate their approaches to safety to limit the number of accidents on sites.

Construction Machinery

In 1992, Caterpillar released the first joystick-controlled machine – the Cat 992D Wheel Loader.

JCB also made waves in the industry by designing the world’s safest skid steer loader, the JCB 165 Robot. With its single power boom loader design and side entry cab, the machine gave easier and safer access as well as greater visibility.

New environmental regulations also had an impact on all plant machinery made in the 1990s. The ‘Diesel Engine Emissions Standards’ introduced in 1996 forced companies to produce cleaner and more efficient engines to limit their carbon emissions.

Market Players

Going from strength to strength, Redrow PLC joined its competitors on the stock market and became a public limited company in 1994. With contracts such as the Dickens Heath development in Solihull, the company went on to win the Housebuilder of the Year award from 1997 to 1999.

Balfour Beatty felt the slump in the property sector in the early 90s and found itself selling off its housebuilding activity. Despite this, other ventures kept the company on track and it was soon describing itself as a worldwide infrastructure business. Taking on major projects around the world, Balfour Beatty was turning over £ 2 billion by the late 90s. Their contracts included the Jubilee Line extension, Chek Lap Kok Airport Terminal in Hong Kong, and the Pergau hydroelectric dam in Malaysia.

Wates Group saw great growth in the 90s with new offices opening in Leeds, Manchester, and Kent. They also took on some high-profile projects including the refurbishment of the National Gallery and Somerset House.

The 1990s saw great improvement for Health & Safety on sites and huge growth for some major companies. This would only continue into the next century as more regulations came into play and companies expanded into new areas.