Construction site life jackets cause ripples

WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE: SMD site operatives Steve Parker, left, and Milliam Dani at the construction site at Canary Wharf


Construction site operatives from a Poole company working on a project at London’s Canary Wharf have an unusual addition to their safety equipment – a life jacket.

The workers from SMD Ltd are working high above water to build a futuristic, aluminium-clad, five-storey private members club on a floating pontoon in the Heron Quays financial district.

And their personal protection equipment includes the life vest just in case of a fall into the water surrounding the Docklands site.

SMD business development director Dan Williams said: “It’s certainly highly unusual to have to wear a life jacket on a construction site.

“The lads thought it highly amusing, but they fully understand that site safety is of critical importance. Fortunately, the vests haven’t been needed yet.

“By its very nature, this contract is creating many challenges we do not face on a dry land build, but our major projects team is taking everything in their stride.”

SMD, the steel decking and roofing company known for shaping Britain’s skyline, started working on site, overlooking Middle Dock on Bank Street, in April with the development expected to be completed late this year.

The multi-million-pound project will include a bar, restaurant, private dining area, members’ lounges and guest accommodation, a gym, treatment studio, an open terrace overlooking Middle Dock and a top floor open roof terrace.

SMD, one of only a handful of British firms to design, manufacture and install its own steel decking systems, is working for Yorkshire-based Elland Steel Structures on the development.

Elland Steel’s Commercial Director Jeremy Shorrocks said: ”With SMD’s impressive experience on London projects, it was an easy decision to place the metal decking package for this prestigious project with them.

“Elland Steel has a working relationship dating back to the start of this millennium and look forward to working with them on the next project on the Wharf.”

SMD, which is supplying and fitting 7,500 sq m of its R51decking and 32,000 shear studs for the project, celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2017.

The firm’s steel decking has been used in such iconic buildings as the Shard and the Olympic Park in London, Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium, Cheltenham racecourse and terminals at Heathrow Airport.

The company employs more than 100 staff at locations across the UK, including Poole, Leeds, Nottingham and Glasgow and has a satellite office in Dubai and a design base in India.


  • Notes for editors:

Structural Metal Decks (SMD) was founded in 1987 and is based in Poole, Dorset. It designs, manufactures and installs metal decking systems for projects across the world. It employs more than 100 people – some based in India and Dubai. SMD has worked on some of the world’s most iconic buildings, including the Shard and The Olympic Village in London and Manchester’s Etihad Stadium.

SMD was named Best Specialist Contractor to Work With (Under £25m) and  awarded a top 10 spot in the Best Specialist Contractor to Work For (Under £25m) category in the 2017 Construction Enquirer awards.

The company triumphed in the FASET (Fall Arrest Safety Equipment Training) Excellence of Work Award 2017 for SMD’s high standard of work and health and safety performance on the 40-storey Scalpel building in London, and a highly commended in the Health Safety Training Achievement award.

SMD won the Innovation Award in the 2017 Building Safety Group (BSG) Health & Safety Awards and was shortlisted in the Sub-contractor Award and Best Use of Technology Award.