Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

Changes to construction Health & Safety

Early in April I was kindly invited to a seminar in Knutsford by Darren Bedson of BPA services based in Newcastle, the topic being the proposed changes to construction health and safety.  Once there I was told that the meeting would go on for 2 ½ hours without a break.  So imagine the atmosphere in the room of about 200 people 90% of which doing a similar role in construction health and safety as the speaker told them their job as they know will no longer be recognised in the form it currently exists.

Construction Design Management (CDM) regulations was introduced in 1994 and it dealt with health and safety issue in the construction industry, exclusively to non domestic works.  The person in charge of ensuring a building site was safe,  was called the planning supervisor.  Possibly for obvious reasons in 2007 a revamp of the CDM regulation the person in charge became known as the CDM coordinator, but still the regulations were there to monitor safety on commercial sites and not households.

There were some exemptions to the regulations apart from households, projects less than 30 days from start to finish, or 500 man hours, but the rest were reported as part of the process to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).  Each contractor was expected to produce a method statement of each process during construction, decide whether there were any risks and what to do to reduce or eliminate the risk.

The new CDM regulations set to launch in April 2015 will have two significant changes, firstly the CDM Coordinator role is obsolete and is replaced be ‘Principle Designer’ and is awarded to the person at early stages of a development (I wanted to leave at that point).  Secondly and more importantly for most of the readers – the CDM regulations 2015 will cover works carried out to a household, or domestic property.

The client has to appoint a Principle Designer at the early stages and this can be the first contractor working on a job, and placed in charge reporting the job is taking place to the HSE, and taking control of construction health and safety.  The 30 day exemption rule still applies, but a new rule ‘unless there is more than one trade involved’, will become applicable.  Therefore an electrician, plumber and tiler working on your new bathroom will need to be reported to HSE, one of them become the principle designer and takes charge of health and safety to make sure risk assessments and method statements are produced.  Conversely a roofer replacing the tiles on you 3 storey house is exempt, unless he takes over 30 days to complete the works.

It seems the European government have been pushing for the change to include household properties in line with other EU member countries, to maintain or improve worker protection and health and safety on small construction site.

Monitoring and maintaining construction health and safety is not a role I want to take up, thankfully I have sufficient experience in commercial projects to understand the process, but I would make sure my clients are aware of their responsibility under the new CDM regulations and pass on details of people like Darren Bedson who are better suited to advise on it.

If you are abroad this summer and see the builders working on a roof or laying bricks in their flip-flops just remember what we should aim to aspire to.

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