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Safety Changes In The Construction Industry

Nov 16, 2007
For people and businesses in the construction industry safe and efficient working practices should always have been at the forefront of your mind. Recent changes in the law have now seen the onus for safety extend to the client or persons having construction or building work carried out. This article looks at the implications the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 may have on clients, contractors and workers in the construction industries. And the first part of this article looks at Your Responsibilities as a Client.

To begin with it is perhaps worth looking at what the CDM regulations are and put simply they have been introduced to ensure construction projects are safe to build, use and be maintained whilst delivery good value to the client. As well as this they have also been put into place to ensure through good health and safety planning projects are well managed and problems and unexpected costs are kept to minimum levels.

For some this may seem like yet more regulation and unnecessary paperwork and processes but in reality the CMD 2007 regulations have been introduced to ensure construction and building work is done by competent people who work safely and efficiently.

When it comes to requirements of clients (or the person having the work carried out) the regulations do not apply to domestic clients. A domestic client is defined as being someone who will or does live in the premises where the work is being carried out. The premises at which at work is being done must not also relate to any trade, business or other undertaking for the client to be deemed as domestic.

So if you are a non domestic client under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 you have to take the following steps.

1. Appoint the right people. Trade associations are a great way to find designers and contractors who are competent, have sufficient resources and will carry out work safely.

2. Allow enough time for your project. Failing to allow for adequate time for the design, planning and construction is likely to mean more chance of it being unsafe or of a poor quality.

3. Information is vital. To ensure your project runs smoothly you have to ensure that your construction team is told what you want, how you will use it as well as details of the site, structures and hazards as this will allow them to plan, budget and work to your exact requirements.

4. Communication and co operation. Injuries, overspending at a later stage and misunderstandings can all be kept to a minimum if you, your contractors and your designers communicate and co operate as much as possible.

5. Management. Having adequate and suitable management in place is vital for construction projects as they can be extremely complex due to the various types of contractors and tradesmen all working together. And as some of these contractors are involved in high risk activities (for example, roofing contractors and scaffolding contractors) then it is important that management arrangements are in place to ensure all work done is safe and is completed in a timely manner. Clearly contractors like roofers and scaffolders will have their own ways of working and protection in the form of construction insurance, scaffolders insurance and contractors insurance but management of all parts of the project and checks should be done to ensure all parties are working with safety in mind.

6. On site Welfare facilities. You should ensure that workers on your site have been provided with adequate welfare facilities before work starts including any information needed for the health and safety file.

7. Workplace design. It is up to you to make sure your design team complies with the standards set out in the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 if your project is for changes to an existing workplace (eg office or factory) or if the project is for a new workplace.

In addition to the above requirements as a client you also have to make sure you do the following for notifiable construction projects with the definition of notifiable construction work being that which lasts longer than 30 days or involves 500 person days of work.

For these projects you also have to ensure that.

8. You appoint a CDM co coordinator. Although CDM 2007 doesnt mean your Construction Design and Management coordinator has to supervise or monitor work on site you should appoint one before the initial design and preparation stage. Their role will range from helping you select competent designers and contractors to making sure the Health and Safety Executive is notified of your project.

9. You appoint a main contractor. A main or principle contractor will plan, co ordinate and manage work on notifiable jobs whilst construction work is being done

10. You have health & safety plans. Work should not commence on site until the principal contractor has produced a construction phase health and safety plan that ensures that work will be carried out safety

11. You keep a health & safety file. The health & safety file should contain a record of health and safety information and should be given to your at the end of your project by the CDM co coordinator. This file should be used in the future by anyone who is looking to maintain, repair or demolish the building.

Failure to comply with CDM 2007 from a clients point of view could result in construction work being stopped by HSE or your local authority. Likewise failure to take the necessary steps to ensure good health and safety procedures are in place could dramatically increase the chances of a dangerous or fatal incident occurring whilst your construction work is carried out. And in the most serious cases you could even find yourself open to prosecution.

Make sure your site is safe, you have a duty to do so.
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