Health and Safety legislation is devised to make projects as safe and secure as possible, as well as establishing who is responsible for the different aspects of health and safety. For students and those working within the industry, a number of health and safety books have been published detailing the regulations and the impact for ongoing projects.
The Health and Safety Executive, who publishes the majority of texts on the subject, manages and details the legislation.
It is expected that Health and Safety in Construction should be integrated into projects from their inception. The aim is for health and safety to be adopted into planning and management at the beginning of the project so that risks can be identified early on and effort can be targeted where it can do most good.
Health and Safety books describe that the regulations for the construction industry begin at the design stage and are considered to be essential, rather than added later as an afterthought. At this stage effort should be focused on the significance of risk and its complexity. Paperwork, the HSE says, should focus on communication and risk management and if it adds little to the management of risk then the paperwork is a waste of effort and can be a dangerous distraction.
Adherence to health and safety in construction by the client can contribute to the reduction of an overall cost. The structure of the legislation is designed for safe and easy maintenance and cleaning work. If adhered to and integrated into planning and management it can reduce delays, provide more reliable costings and completion dates, improve communication between the key parties and ultimately improve the quality of the finished product.
Who is responsible for health and safety?
Health and safety books detail who is responsible for different elements of the legislation and procedure. Not everyone involved in the design, planning or management of the project is legally bound for all, but each must ensure that all of the requirements are complied with.
Responsibility falls to those who have control over working methods and safeguards like site conditions. One health and safety book details the example of excavation. A contractor carrying out excavation work is responsible for ensuring the excavation is safe to work at but if the client specifies that the excavation should be dug in a certain way then he has a duty to ensure their instructions are complied with. The work on the project can only begin on site when the safety procedures are in place.
Health and safety books produced by the HSE examine the basics and essential knowledge of health and safety in construction however it also details specific areas like asbestos, machinery, gas systems and appliances, accidents, electricity, fire safety, first aid along with trips and falls at work.
HSE legislation examines the responsibility at each stage of the project. The client it says, “must ensure various things are done, but are not normally expected to do them themselves”. An important first role to appoint during the project is a CDM Coordinator who manages the implication and adherence to health and safety in construction. The principal reasons for failing to meet health and safety regulations stem from unrealistic deadlines and a failure to allocate sufficient funds so planning of time periods and preparation is a key part of the coordinators role.
A health and safety file is kept on site that details any of the risk undertaken in carrying out the work and provides advice for any future constriction work, maintenance or alteration at the site. The responsibility of the CDM Coordinator the file includes brief description of work, any residual hazards e.g., asbestos, key structure principles, hazardous materials used, how to remove or dismantle anything installed and how it should be cleaned, the nature and location of significant services like gas supply and fire fighting equipment.
The aim of health and safety in construction is to make the industry safer. In 2012 a year long project will end aimed at cutting deaths and injuries in the construction sector caused by a failure to adhere to regulations.