Carillion collapse, a timely reminder about your tools

Carillion collapse, looking up a commercial building facade

In the wake of the Carillion collapse, one of UK’s largest construction companies, there has been a lot of finger pointing to the company’s failure. And like everything in this industry, nothing is like it seems and we will never learn the full story. With Carillion’s collapse comes a timely reminder, and one I am sure we have all heard from time to time.

At the end of the day, we all love to get off-site as soon as we can, we lock up our tools and head off home. We are quite willing to take the chance that our tools and gear will still be on site in the morning. And for the most part, we get away with it. Yet, we always watch the old guys pack up all their tools and lug them off home each day.

Their experience over the years has taught them a thing or two, and one that is likely to be a surprise to many. And this is where Carillion comes in, where a principal contractor has collapsed.

Carillion’s due process

Carillion and construction sites aerial photo
Image by Chuttersnap

When a principal contractor (builder) goes into liquidation, administration, or receivership, whichever the case may be, the administrators come in and lock up the principal contractor’s assets. The administrators and receiver’s jobs are to evaluate and sell off the collapsed company’s assets to recover as much money as possible for the creditors.

Construction sites are deemed to be assets of the principal contractor. In most cases, the administrators will bring in security guards and change the site locks to keep the sites safe and secure. The security isn’t there to keep the public out; they are there to keep you out. The biggest risk to an administrator completing their job is the burnt subcontractors and workers.

Here is why:

When the receivers are on site they are completing a stock take and assessing items of value. Your tools and any gear left on site are likely to be included in the builder’s assets. Your tools and your bosses gear are now caught up in the financial and legal tangle of the failed principle contractor.

As the legal mess unfolds subcontractors and their employees are very likely to be the ones to break into the site and try to retrieve their tools and equipment. It’s not that you won’t get your tools back, you simply have to prove what is yours.

Lesson to from Carillion

Carillion and photo of new rail way tunnel
Image by Ricardo Gomex Angel

Let’s be honest, just like everyone else on site, most of our tools are only marked with coloured paint. Getting your tools back could be likened to going to the police and identifying your stolen tools. You will information like serial numbers, engravings, photos, etc. which I highly doubt many of us can provide.

Now spare a thought for your boss, all the material and gear that they have onsite is now lost. Regardless of who paid and owned what items, the receivers now have control of the construction site and everything contained within site.

While everyone waits for the receivers and administrators to do their job, you and your boss are going to be short of everything left on that site. You can’t work without tools and neither can your employer.

Guess the old guys lugging their tools home every day were right when they would say, “take your tools home.”

Download a PDF version of this article