Author - CDM Services

Welding Health & Safety

Welding Fumes and Suitable PPE

If you are looking for advice about welding fumes and the suitable PPE to wear it can be difficult to offer advice for every time someone welds something. The advice that you will find below will help you understand which steps you should take so the work environment is safe for your employees.

Ventilation Considerations

Do you need to ensure your workers are using a filtering face mask and that they have additional ventilation along with fume extraction? If you offer any or all of these options it’s vital that you ensure they are used correctly.

  • When local exhaust ventilation (LEV) is used correctly the quality of the welds are not affected. You may need to provide all of your welders with the correct type of respiratory protective equipment (RPE).
  • If your welders are undertaking short jobs FFP3 dust masks offer a good amount of protection and they tend to be quite cheap. Please note that you will have to purchase different sized dust masks as the same mask will not fit everyone.
  • Powered filtering welding visors can be used when your welders are working for more than 2 hours. Additionally, they can also be used when it’s not viable to use extraction.

Eye and Face Protection

Your team should wear a helmet that comes with a filter lens and a cover plate. Hand shields need to protect the neck and face, forehead and ears. Approved safety glasses that come with side shields or goggles should be worn under the helmet.

Safety shields or goggles should provide protection from slag chips, flying metal and other hazards.

Head and Ear Protection

A fire-resistant welder’s cap or another form of head covering needs to be worn by your workers. This will protect their head and hair from radiation, splatter, flying sparks and burns.

When working over head or out of position ear muffs or plugs should be provided. If there is loud noise then approved muffs or ear plugs should be provided.

Body Protection

Clothes that are oil-free and that allow freedom of movement should be worn. Long sleeved shirts and buttoned cuffs will help to protect the arms and neck from radiation.

Foot Protection

Steel toe, leather, high-topped boots that are in good condition need to be worn. If your welders are working in slag or heavy spark areas leather spats should be strapped around their legs and the tops of boots to prevent burns and injury.

Hand Protection

Welding gloves that are dry and free from holes should be provided. The gloves should be flame-resistant and provide general hand protection.

Minimising Fumes

One of the first steps you need to take is to determine if the job can be altered so that there is less welding, cutting and gouging involved. Excessive currents and long-duty cycles can produce a lot more fumes along with affecting the quality of the weld. Are your team using the optimum settings? You should also determine if you can use a welding technique that creates fewer fumes. Can you use TIG (Gas Tungsten Arc Welding) instead as it produces a smaller amount of fumes?

Shielding Gas

Has your shielding gas been optimised? Doing so could result in the lowest emission of fumes. You should also bear in mind that the best gas for the work that your welders do may not be the cheapest. If you’re worried about the cost please note that the cost of the gases can be offset by the savings you have in terms of labour costs thanks to an increased speed in production.

Removing Surface Platings

Check to see if you’re able to remove surface platings, paint, dirt and oil. These substances typically increase the fumes and could on occasion may them toxic. Please note that hot work on chromate or lead paints and cadmium plating is very hazardous.

Changing The Environment

Can you change the environment so the welder does not have to breathe in the fume cloud?

Can you:

  • Give them more space to work?
  • Provide turntables and other pieces of equipment so the workpiece can be manipulated?
  • Plan the welding sequence differently?

If your welders can work with their head out of the rising fumes they will breathe less in. Fewer fumes equals a lot less risk.

Fume Control System

It’s crucial that you ensure the fume control systems are all working correctly. You need to:

  • Carry out maintenance on your non-disposable RPE and your fume-extraction equipment.
  • Check that you have no common faults such as faulty valves, blocked filters, or crushed or split ductwork.
  • Ensure that your fume extraction systems are examined thoroughly by a competent individual at least every 12 to 14 months. Please note this is a legal requirement.

You need to check that any non-disposable welding visors or filtering masks are in good condition. While there is no specific time period set for these checks you should set a schedule.

Take into account the recommendations set by the manufacturers, where the respirator is used and how much they are used. Checks every 4 weeks is normal practice. However, respirators used a lot less often need to be checked every 3 months.

Have a question?

If you would like to speak to us about any of our CDM services, then our team would be happy to help.

Asbestos in work

Asbestos in Work

This article follows on from our previous blog post Asbestos the silent killer

Asbestos is the UK’s biggest cause of work-related deaths. In fact, Asbestos has claimed the lives of 50,000+ people in the last 3 decades. While Asbestos can take some time to develop it can cause Mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer. These diseases don’t just affect workers, they can also affect their families if they have inadvertently come into contact with it.

It can take up to 30 years for someone to show symptoms of Mesothelioma and the other diseases that Asbestos can cause. This is why it’s often hard to work out what is causing the symptoms. Some people may not have realised they were working in a building that contained Asbestos or even realised that they had come into contact with Asbestos. This is usually why many people are shocked that they are suffering from Mesothelioma, asbestosis or lung cancer.

What Exactly is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a mineral that was once quite widely used during the 1960’sand 1970’s. The reason behind its use comes down to the fact that it was considered to be a very versatile material in the building industry. While the use of Asbestos has been banned for many years it can still be found in some buildings. This is because some older buildings still stand and are considered to be structurallysafe. While many old buildings have been torn down and replaced with something new, there are still old ones located all over the UK that contain Asbestos.

This material was once used in shipbuilding, insulation, textiles and fireproofing. Unfortunately,this means that thousands of people who worked in these industries were potentially exposed to it.

The Risk of Exposure Today

As we have already seen, Asbestos is no longer used due to its disease-causing properties. However, there is still a risk of exposure, especially in the construction industry. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advice on Asbestosis that there is still a high risk of exposure to people with certain job roles, in particular, those work as:

  • Carpenters
  • Computer installation engineers
  • Demolition workers
  • Electricians
  • Fire and burglar alarm installers
  • GasFitters
  • General maintenance workers
  • Heating and ventilating engineers
  • Cleaners
  • Joiner
  • Painters and Decorators
  • Plasterers
  • Plumbers
  • RoofingContractors
  • Site Managers
  • Surveyors
  • Telephone engineers

If you have worked in any of the above professions you may have been exposed to Asbestos at some time.

How Can Workers Stay Safe?

In our last blog on Asbestos,we looked at the training required to deal with the discovery ofthe substance along with what to do if Asbestos is uncovered. Here we look at the laws along with regulations that mean that building controllers need to manage workers’ exposure to Asbestos.

On non-domestic premises, under the regulations the building controller must by law:

  • Identify materials that may contain Asbestos
  • Keep up to date records about the Asbestos
  • Assess the risk of exposure
  • Plan how any risks will be managed
  • Inform anyone who may work on the building
  • Inform anyone who may disturb the Asbestos

The Health and Safety Executive has an ‘Asbestos Licensing Unit’ that regulates every company who is working with Asbestos and grants them permission to carry out any required work.

Asbestos Work Plans

If Asbestos is found to be present, then as the employer you should provide workers with a ‘work plan’ by law. This work plan should identify the type of Asbestos that has been found, along with the type and level of exposure employees are likely to deal with. The plan will also cover how you plan to eliminate or reduce the exposure and how as the employer you intend to monitor the exposure of your employees.

As the employer i.e. Principal Contractor on a project, you should provide full and complete training along with any relevant information to employees that could be at risk of exposure.

Working with Asbestos

No attempts should ever be made to work with Asbestos unless your business has an Asbestos removal licence. Additionally, no individual should ever work with Asbestos products unless they have had the correct training, information and protection.

As the employer it is imperative that you keep accurate and up to date training record along with the results of air monitoring face-fit testing. The face-fit testing will ensure that an employee is wearing a mask that adequately fits and proects them and the records will demonstrate that you have done everything you can as the employee to protect workers.

Removing Asbestos

It is quite difficult to remove Asbestos as there are some very strict guidelines that surround it. If the Asbestos needs to be removed while there are people working in the affected building they may need to be temporarily relocated. It is typical for the part of the building where the Asbestos is located to be sealed off so that other areas are not contaminated.

Suspected Exposure

If a worker shows signs of Asbestos exposure then as the employee you should advise them to see their doctor straight away.

There can a variety of illnesses that throw up similar symptoms so whilst you should never jump to conclusions that your symptomsare related to Asbestos exposure, it is always best to make medical practitioners aware of any potential exposure.

There is always a risk when working with older buildings of Asbestos exposure, but employers can minimise the risks by putting in place work plans, appropriate PPE, Face-Fit Testing and the appropriate training. Effective communication of the dangers is key so that workers can carry out their roles with safety in mind and employers will be safe in the knowledge that they are doing everything they can to protect their team.

Have a question?

If you would like to speak to us about any of our CDM services, then our team would be happy to help.

Asbestos Health and safety

Asbestos the Silent Killer

While many buildings that once contained asbestos have now been torn down or had the asbestos removed, this dangerous substance still silently kills approximately 5,000 workers each year. This alarming figure is higher than the number of people that are killed on UK  roads each year.

 

Unfortunately, around 20 people die every week due to past asbestos exposure. However, the problem of asbestos is not confined to the past, it can still be present in any building that was built or any building that was refurbished before 2000.

Why is Asbestos Dangerous?

Asbestos is dangerous because it can cause hidden illness that may not appear for many years after someone has come into contact with it. This is why asbestos is known as “The Silent Killer”.

 

Exposure to asbestos can cause you to suffer from the following serious and fatal conditions:

 

Asbestos-related Lung Cancer

Asbestos-related lung cancer looks the same as lung cancer that has been caused by smoking and other behaviours/exposures. For every death that was caused by lung cancer, it is estimated that there is also one death from Mesothelioma.

Pleural Thickening

Pleural thickening is a condition that can be caused by heavy asbestos exposure. The lining of the pleura (Lung) becomes thick and swells. If the condition is particularly bad the lung can be squeezed. This can result in a lot of discomfort and shortness of breath.

Mesothelioma

This is a type of cancer that affects the lungs’ lining. It also affects the lining surrounding the lower digestive tract. Mesothelioma is usually associated with exposure to asbestos and, unfortunately, by the time someone has received a diagnosis the condition has usually reached a fatal stage.

Asbestosis

This condition is a serious one and sufferers often have serious scarring of their lungs. This condition is typically caused by heavy asbestos exposure over a number of years. Causing progressive shortness of breath, the condition can also be fatal.

 

Information on training

Employers should make sure that anyone who may disturb asbestos during their working day, or anyone who supervises the employees who may disturb asbestos gets the right training. They should have the knowledge and training that enables them to work in a safe and competent way without any risk to themselves or to other people. Safer Sphere can provide asbestos training

 

The Types of Necessary Training

All workers and their supervisors should be able to recognise any materials that contain asbestos and know exactly what they should do if they come across them. There are 3 levels of information, instruction and training that workers and their supervisors need to be aware of:

 

Asbestos awareness – This is made up of information, training and instruction and gives workers and their supervisors the information they need so they can avoid disturbing asbestos.

 

Licensable work with asbestos – This is made up of those who are at a high risk of working with asbestos. Only managers and competent workers are provided with this information, training and instruction that includes using the right PPE.

 

Non-licensable work with asbestos – Those who need this type of information, training and instruction undertake work that requires them to disturb materials that contain asbestos. For example, drilling holes in asbestos, cleaning or repairing asbestos roofing or cement sheets.

 

A worker who attends a training course about asbestos will not ensure that they are competent enough. Workers must implement and consolidate the skills that have learned during their training, in their instruction and assessment and their on the job learning.

 

The level of information and the amount of training and instruction that a worker receives must be appropriate for the work that they do. A Training Needs Analysis (TNA) will help the workers and those training them identify the topics that need to be covered. This is to ensure that every worker is competent and can avoid putting themselves and those who they work with at risk.

How do I Identify Asbestos?

It’s not always easy to identify asbestos, however, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has an image gallery which depicts some common materials that contain asbestos. These images include but are not limited to:

 

  • Asbestos fire blankets
  • Suspended AIB ceiling tiles
  • Pieces of AIB
  • AIB window panelling

 

What do I do if I Potentially Find Asbestos During my Work?

If you unexpectedly come across asbestos or something that you think may be asbestos you should stop work right away. You will need to confirm what the material is or assume that it is asbestos. You will need to carry out a risk assessment that will help you determine whether you need a licensed contractor to carry out the work.

 

If you undertake non-licensed work on asbestos you should only do so if you have had the appropriate training, instruction, and information.

If I Have to Work With Asbestos is it the Responsibility of my Employer to give me Personal Protective Clothing (PPE)?

Yes, if it is likely that you will be exposed to asbestos your employers should provide you with all the personal protective clothing (PPE) you need. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has more information on the required PPE.

Do I Need a Certificate That Proves I’ve had Asbestos Training?

No, there is absolutely no legal requirement for you to have a certificate that shows you’ve had training. However, some training providers issue certificates that indicate that you’ve completed an asbestos training course.

You can read part two of this asbestos article here

Have a question?

If you would like to speak to us about any of our CDM services, then our team would be happy to help.

Competence CDM15

Competency (SKET) are you competent to discharge your duties?

The UK construction sector has a health and safety record that makes it one of the country’s most dangerous industries for workers, with injury and fatality rates that are above average as well as higher than normal rates of illness from work-related causes. Therefore, it is an area of increasing concern for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Competence has been a major part of the strategy used to improve the construction sector’s health and safety record. The term is directly referenced in the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM), whose success is largely dependant on ensuring that everyone involved at every stage of a construction project is competent.

However, the HSE’s proposals for a CDM revision has removed the mandatory requirement for individual competence in CDM 2015 and the CDM 2007 requirement for corporate competence. The CD261 consultation on replacement of the CDM regs from 2007 to 2015 has indicated that one of the main reasons for the proposed changes is to lower the difficulty of meeting the CDM 2007 competence requirements. For example, it cites the growth of commercial-based competency programmes and the excessive use of paperwork and other questionnaires.

A history of competence and legal definition

The definition of competence is a complicated matter and the law has been trying to accurately define it for some time. The present meaning included a combination of attributes, qualities, and characteristics.

Indicators of the legal meaning of competence can be found in some early health and safety cases. In one 1912 case, coal miners were poisoned when carbon monoxide escaped into the mine. The contemporary mining legislation required the manager and fireman to remove the workers until the incident had been investigated.

Although both men were well qualified, the House of Lords held that they did not have the necessary experience to navigate the situation and the owners of the mine were found liable.

It appears that being competent goes beyond possession of certain qualifications. It also addresses experience.

In another case, this one taking place in 1957, one employee who was well-known for playing jokes at work injured another employee. The employer was found liable on the premise that this person was not a competent employee, which under common law must be someone who behaves responsibly at work and has a positive attitude toward workplace health and safety.

Other cases make additional specifications, so it appears that there is no single universal definition of competence. It appears to depend on the processes, the circumstances, the amount of risk, and what parties are involved. It is also a standard that has to apply to companies as well as to people. Given all these variables, it is not surprising that the term ‘competence’ has created so much confusion in the construction industry.

CDM and Competence

  • Under CDM 2007, “competent” individuals must be appointed to fulfil the various required roles. This also applies to companies. CDM requires all appointees to be competent, including:
  • Contractors
  • Primary contractors
  • Designers
  • CDM co-ordinators

 

CDM 2007 is accompanied by the Approved Code of Practice (ACOP), which provides assistance and advice on the assessment of competence.

Under the ACOP, an individual or organisation is competent only when they have:

  • Sufficient knowledge of the work to be done and the risks that the work entails
  • Sufficient ability and experience with the duties involved with the project; can recognise their limitations, and take the right measures to prevent injury to construction workers and/or those impacted by the construction work
  • Knowledge about the work they will be expected to carry out and the risks that this work may involve. Such knowledge may be acquired by formal or on-site training
  • The right experience: workers are more apt to use safe practices if they understand why the practices are necessary and past experience is a good indicator of ability.

 

Under CDM 2015, the corporate competence requirement was removed and the direct requirement for individual competence included in CDM 2007 has been replaced with a new regulation 8, which states that anyone responsible for engaging a contractor for a construction project must take reasonable steps to ensure that the contractor has:

Received the required training, instruction, and information AND the appropriate supervision to meet applicable legal provisions and maintain the welfare, health, and safety of those impacted by the work. This requirement is comparatively simple and appears to be a far cry from the CDM 2007 requirements for competence. The new regulation 5 requires all projects to have management arrangements in place, and the HSE expects that the present explicit requirements for competence will be effectively replaced.

PAS 91 standardised pre-qualification questionnaires can be used to make proving competency easier for both suppliers and clients by reducing the need for suppliers to complete a variety of pre-qualification questionnaires for different clients. The result is a huge saving in time and money for both parties.

The standardised PQQ format PAS 91 helps to:

  • Let suppliers know what information is required at pre-qualification
  • Make it easier for buyers to identify contractors with suitable qualifications
  • Improve the consistency between many pre-qualification databases and questionnaires

What are the implications?

The CDM 2015 approach to competency in construction is a much simpler approach. Its definition of competency as described in regulation 8  is based on the skills, knowledge and experience of contractors and the organisational ability of an organisation.

Regardless of these changes, everyone in the construction industry will have to demonstrate that everyone on site is competent. Not only is this a common law requirement, but it is also implied in legislation such as the Health and Safety at Work, Act, so the new principal designer will have to be proven to be competent.

Clients and other parties will have to ensure that they demonstrate competency to do the role they are engaged to do, that will pass the scrutiny of the courts. SKET cannot be randomly delivered: it must be assessed and will involve some cost and bureaucracy. For example, a training needs analysis may have to be performed. The HSE stance on competency training is that it may be accomplished using standards that are nationally agreed upon and criteria created by professional bodies.

CDM 2015 does not have an ACOP, but instead HSE produced the regulations accompanied by targeted guidance in the form of document L153, so it remains to be seen what this means for regulation 8.

SKET principles, PAS 91 pre qualified questionnaires and the guidance in document L153 are all now being used to help construction project participants achieve and demonstrate competence in construction in line with the CDM 2015 regulations.

Safer Sphere are able to advise on any aspect of CDM 2015.

Have a question?

If you would like to speak to us about any of our CDM services, then our team would be happy to help.

Protecting the public under CDM15 regulations

Protecting the Public under CDM 2015

The Construction (Design & Management) Regulations (CDM 2015) are the primary set of rules governing construction projects. It applies to all construction and building work and includes every type of project from new build and conversions to refurbishment and demolition.

Part of the law requires those in charge of construction projects to carry out operations without posing a danger to the public. This includes other workers who can potentially be affected by the construction work.

According to HSE inspector David Kirkpatrick, construction companies must make it a priority to secure their construction sites to prevent access by unauthorised parties. These sites can be full of hazards that vulnerable people such as children may not be able to fully understand.

Under CDM 2015, the project client should provide all necessary information about the following particulars:

  • Site boundaries
  • Usage of land bordering the construction site
  • Site access
  • Steps to prevent unauthorised parties from accessing the site

This information will guide the measures taken by contractors. Key issues that need to be addressed are:

  • Managing access to the site
  • Any hazards that could present a danger to the public
  • Vulnerable groups that may be affected

All construction sites must have:

  • Defined measures to manage access across designated boundaries and,
  • Steps to prevent unauthorised people from gaining access to the work site

While there has been a decline in the numbers of children being injured or killed on construction sites, complacency must be avoided. Two or three children die every year after accessing building sites, and many more are seriously injured.

It’s not just children who are at risk but also other members of the public, such as passers-by, can be injured by:

  • Tools or materials that fall outside the boundaries of the job site
  • Tripping and falling into trenches
  • Being hit by moving construction vehicles

For maximum efficacy, the pre-construction information from the client should include:

  • All project boundaries
  • Information about adjacent land use
  • Access information
  • Measures to keep unauthorised people out

To manage site access, the following are required.

Site Boundaries

To manage public risk, boundaries must be defined by suitable fencing. The fence type should be consistent with the type of site and the surroundings. Contractors need to determine what the perimetre will consist of, supply the fencing, and maintain it once erected.

Questions that contractors must ask themselves include:

  • What is the type and nature of the construction work being performed
  • How heavily populated is the area?
  • Who will need to visit the site while work is being carried out?
  • Will children be attracted to the site?
  • What are the characteristics of the site? For example, location, proximity to other buildings, current site boundaries.

In populated areas, this will typically mean a mesh fence around two metres high or hoarding around the construction site.

Authorisation

The primary contractor must take adequate measures to prevent unauthorised parties from accessing the site.

  • People may be restricted to certain areas or authorised to access the entire site.
  • The contractor must explain applicable site rules to authorised parties and perform any required induction.
  • They may have to accompany or supervise some authorised parties while on site or accessing certain areas.

Hazards that Present a Risk to the Public

Many construction site hazards present a risk to visitors and the general public. Contractors must consider if they exist on a certain project and, if so, how they will manage them.

  • Falling objects: Objects must not be able to fall outside the site boundaries. Contractors may have to use brick guards, netting, toe-boards, fans, and covered walkways.
  • Site vehicles. Contractors must ensure that pedestrians cannot be hit by vehicles entering or leaving the site.
  • Access equipment. Measures must be taken to prevent people outside the site boundary from being hit while scaffolding and other access equipment is being erected, used, and dismantled.
  • Stacking and storing materials. Reduce the risks associated with storing materials by storing them within the perimetre of the site, ideally in a secure location or away from the fencing.
  • Excavations and openings. People can be hurt if they fall into excavati9ns, stairwells, and other open areas.
  • Other hazards include road works, slips, trips, and falls in pedestrian areas, hazardous substances, plant equipment and machinery, dust, noise, and vibration, and energy sources such as electricity.

Vulnerable Groups

Children, the elderly, and people with certain disabilities may need special consideration, especially if work is being done in locations like hospitals and schools.

Children can be attracted to construction sites as potential play areas. Constractors must take all reasonable steps to keep them from accessing the site and endangering themselves.

The steps below are especially important for child safety:

  • When work is finished for the day, secure the site thoroughly
  • Cover or erect barriers around pits and excavations
  • Immobilise vehicles and lock them away if possible
  • Store building materials such as cement bags, manhole rings, and pipes so that they cannot tip or roll over
  • Remove access ladders from scaffolds and excavations
  • Make sure that all hazardous substances are locked away

Safer Sphere are able to advise on any aspect of CDM 2015.

Have a question?

If you would like to speak to us about any of our CDM services, then our team would be happy to help.

How to pass a Health And Safety Inspection

How to pass a construction site H&S audit

The health and safety needs of a construction site can change from one year to the next, which is why audits need to be carried out on a regular basis.

This routine diligence helps to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of employees within an organisation by detecting areas where improvement is needed. It also ensures that construction companies remain compliant with their legal duties and responsibilities.

What is a health and safety audit?

A health and safety audit is an independent and methodical assessment of a construction site’s processes. The documented results are measured against mandated criteria to confirm that the site managers are upholding health and safety standards.

In general, a construction site audit will review factors like the following to ensure a safe environment for workers:

  • Procedures involving hazardous materials
  • Safe and proper use of equipment
  • Presence of hazards such as exposed live wires, holes that have not been barricaded off, and debris in the work area

When you’ve been informed that your construction site is scheduled for an audit, here are some steps you can take to make it as conscientious and safe as possible. Although these processes should be in place and remain in place throughout the construction.

Post safety notices

Posting safety notices is required on all construction sites. This includes clearly identifying and marking all dangerous materials and hazards, from toxic chemicals to wet paint, so that there can be no mistake as to what they are. The single most common cause of accidents on construction sites is a failure to communicate.

Create walkways

Create clearly marked walkways that help site visitors and inspectors avoid hazardous work areas, such as places where falling debris might be a risk. By the same token, protect workers from accidentally interfering with and injuring each other by isolating all work areas that could overlap. You can do this by posting temporary barriers and caution tape where appropriate.

Have management tour the site

Arrange for company managers to carry informal safety inspections at a construction site to identify any areas that may need attention. This internal auditing team could include your company’s managing director and a senior level manager from your client’s firm.

New sets of eyes can spot problems that people who work on the site every day may miss. Any potential safety issues that come to light during these inspections must be acted on immediately.

Run PPE checks

All personnel on a construction site should be wearing the correct Personal Protective Equipment or PPE, and know where it is stored.

This equipment, which may include safety hats, protective glasses, steel-toed shoes or boots, and protective gloves, must be kept in a clean and dry place that is also easy to access.

Designated employees should inspect all PPE every week to confirm that it is being properly cleaned and maintained and that there are sufficient quantities of replacement items for any equipment that breaks. Record each check to create an inspection record.

Prepare site checklists

All construction vehicles on a job site should be checked on a regular basis by competent and qualified personnel. Engage a mechanic to carry out a planned maintenance programme that involves a thorough check of each vehicle and essential components like steering and braking systems. Certain equipment falls under LOLER (lifting equipment regulations) so is subject to specific testing at predefined intervals.

Complement this type of professional inspection by requiring each worker to inspect a vehicle before they climb into the driver’s seat or take up the wheel. This combination of professional and in-house inspections can turn up issues before they become major problems and reach the attention of H&S auditors.

Inspect equipment regularly

Plant facilities aren’t the only areas that need inspecting. On a construction site, have each worker check things like electrical equipment, lifting straps, and hand tools for defects or excessive signs of wear before use. For example, if a safety hat is cracked or the handle on a hammer is loose, someone could easily be hurt.

Carry out safety inspections

Arrange for the construction site project and/or safety inspector to carry out a more formal safety audit, accompanied by site workers if possible. These types of inspections could include steps such as safety spot checks, where inspecting one aspect of on-site safety can provide an idea of site-wide safety conditions.

These inspections accomplish a dual purpose: to identify areas of concern and demonstrate the commitment of senior management to the safety of all workers on the construction site. When properly conducted, they can enhance trust between workers and management.

For maximum efficiency, schedule these higher-profile inspections to support the informal management tours and to prepare in advance for independent safety audits.

Follow up in scheduled intervals

When these actions are collected into a workplace system, it ensures the safety and well-being of everyone working on a construction site. Your system should consider the following factors:

  • How often an inspection should take place
  • Who is responsible for scheduling them
  • Who is responsible for carrying them out
  • The abilities and qualifications of those carrying out the inspections
  • What information is included on the checklists
  • Any actions that will arise from these inspections
  • Who is responsible for correcting any issues uncovered during the inspection
  • The time frame for carrying out inspections

Each time a construction project begins, it’s worth compiling an audit schedule to ensure that all aspects of the work are being reviewed for safety and quality throughout the project duration as opposed to the same few areas that are traditionally targeted.

When you create your own system for a construction site health & safety audit, it ensures that any issues that develop on a job site never evolve into problems with catastrophic consequences. Construction contractors who don’t properly fulfill their obligations for on-site safety may risk significant penalties or loss of contracts. It also stands to reason that sites with poor safety conditions are dangerous to workers by causing them to risk injury or worse.

Safer Sphere are able to advise on any aspect of CDM 2015.

Have a question?

If you would like to speak to us about any of our CDM services, then our team would be happy to help.

Architect responsibilities CDM15

Architects And Your Obligations Under CDM15 Regulations

The CDM 2015 regulations provide guidance for architects and others involved in the design role of buildings.

In addition to those who directly prepare and modify construction project designs such as architects, other professionals affected by CDM 2015 laws may also arrange for or instruct others in how to do so. These could include:

  • Architects
  • Consulting engineers
  • Quantity surveyors
  • Any professional who carries out design work, such as contractors and tradespeople (e.g., an electrician who designs the specification and layout of an electrical installation)
  • Commercial clients who actively participate in the design of their project

UK architects who are reviewing the Construction Design and Management (CDM) 2015 regulations will notice the ‘reasonable practicability’ theme underlying them, which have been designed to try and make the laws practical to work with.

This approach can make it easy to forget that these duties are also subject to criminal law. It is therefore important for architects and others offering building design advice to be fully aware of their obligations under CDM 2015.

Duty to Avoid Harm

Designers such as architects play an important role in helping to ensure that the construction process avoids harm. This is because their influence begins during the early planning and design stages of a new construction project. Their decisions can affect the welfare of the following:

  • Workers and contractors who perform the construction work
  • Those who use, repair, clean, refurbish, and demolish a work site or building

Design decisions such as selecting building components or materials can control, reduce, and even avoid the risks inherent in building a structure and both using and maintaining it after it is built. These designer duties apply on all projects, including (but not limited to):

  • Large construction projects
  • Minor building workers
  • Domestic projects
  • Smaller projects involving repairs and refurbishment

Designer duties come into effect as soon as the design professional is appointed and designs intended for construction work begin. While the greater percentage of design work takes place during a project’s pre-construction phase, it sometimes extends into the actual construction process.

Knowledge, Skills, and Experience Needed by Designers

To ensure safety during a project, a designer must be able to demonstrate that they possess the following:

  • Skills, knowledge, and experience (SKE) in the area of health and safety
  • The organisational ability to do the work they have been appointed to do (if the designer is part of an organisation)

The degree of SKE required should be in proportion to the project complexity and the nature and range of potential risks.

Examples of SKE demonstration may include:

  • Membership in professional bodies or institutions
  • Records of adherence to continued professional development

Examples of organisational capability could include:

  • Prequalification assessment by independent assessors who are members of recognised organisations such as Safety Schemes in Procurement Forum
  • Self-assessment using the Publicly Available Specification PAS 91 health and safety pre-qualification questions

Official Guidelines

The Health and Safety Executive is in favour of a lower-key approach for smaller projects that involve less risk and a more detailed approach for complex projects. It also advocates that actions remain in proportion to potential risks.

This flexible approach to CDM legislation is intended to make it user-friendly, but from a legal perspective, this can subject everything to interpretation, especially since the 2015 regulations have not really been tested by case law.

A legal practicalities course called RIBA CDM 2015 uses the regulations (as opposed to third-party guidance notes) to explain the duties and responsibilities of those involved in the CDM process, including the key role of the Principal Designer.

The course developers believed that unofficial guidance was so prevalent that architects will find it beneficial to return to the source material, where it will be made obvious that the CDM regulations were structured to be practical instead of difficult to navigate.

They accepted that the absence of any flurry of legal action over CDM duty failures since the new regulations were introduced indicates that the Health and Safety Executive has struck the correct balance between practicality and prescription.

The central role of the Principal Designer is a central part of CDM 2015. They must be appointed on any project that has multiple contractors. The Principal Designer does not have to be appointed on projects for domestic clients, but their duties must still be carried out by the lead designer. The RIBA recommendation is that members discuss these duties with clients as a mandatory part of their architectural services and satisfy themselves that the client understands what they are doing.

One of the primary motivators behind the CDM changes was the desire of the Health and Safety Executive to see the Principal Designer selected from the design team. This approach replaces the former CDM Coordinator role, which often belonged to a third-party consultant who did not influence design decisions and their ramifications for health and safety.

Duties of the Principal Designer

The Principal Designer duties include:

  • Planning, managing, and overseeing the preconstruction phase of a project. The client must provide Preconstruction Information and the Principal Designer is obligated to help the client provide it as well as evaluate its adequacy. They must also share Preconstruction Information with all contractors and other designers that have been appointed or are under consideration.
  • The management and coordination of health and safety concerns and the sharing of such details wherever design work is being done. From this perspective, the Principal Designer is a supervisory role that ensures cooperation.

For the duration of their appointment, the principal designer is required by duty to work with the Principal Contractor and share key information regarding planning, management, and monitoring.

The Principal Designer must work within what is known as the ‘general principles of prevention’, but in proportion to the project scope. In others words, to an extent that is both reasonable and practicable.

If legal action arises from the project, documentation is essential. The Principal Designer must be in a position afterwards to prove why certain decisions were made and why they were the reasonable thing to do at the time.

Safer Sphere are able to advise on any aspect of CDM 2015.

Have a question?

If you would like to speak to us about any of our CDM services, then our team would be happy to help.

CDM Contractor Duties Advice

Further Duties For The Contractor To Comply With CDM15 Regulations

In previous articles we have considered the duty of the Contractor under CDM15 and the role of the Contractor; the duty to manage the work safely, how a Contractor may check the competency of workers on the project team, safety with tools, equipment and materials and any information and instruction that is passed to the contractor from the Pre-Construction Phase or during the Construction Phase of the project.

It must be remembered that the flow of information will be two way and the Contractor must keep the Construction Phase Plan up to date and expect that the Principal Contractor manage the Plan similarly.

Here we are going to delve deeper into the requirements for consultation and co-operation with other duty holders.

How Contractors can consult with Employees

There must be collaboration between Contractors as employer and the workers that are on task to get individuals to work safely. Involving workers in the decision making process with regards health and safety tends to lead to practical solutions, practical solutions that increase the potential commitment and buy in from workers to any Health and Safety topics.

Practical solutions are more easily fostered by the workforce, practical solutions generally come from speaking to workers about their experience and knowledge about a task or job. When experienced workers are consulted on matters of health and safety, it will be easier to spot workplace hazards and to implement realistic controls that will not be seen as a burden or barrier to completing a task to programme.

Consultation is a proven means of managing Health and Safety on construction projects. Consultation is not only about employers giving information to workers that is part of the Construction Phase Plan, but also requires the Contractor as an employer to listen to workers and consider their experience in the field and previous issues that they have come up against in similar situations.

Consultation with the work force should cover the hazards associated from their own work and the work of others working on the project as well as those environmental risks that modern construction techniques may harbour, the way these risks are managed and how information and training to protect workers from relevant risks should be discussed at length.

Preparing the Construction Phase Plan

Preparing the Construction Phase Plan is the responsibility of the Principal Contractor where more than one Contractor is present on site. In situations where there is only one Contractor, the Construction Phase Plan cannot be left up to another contractor as there is essentially no one to pass this duty to.

A Construction Phase Plan describes how health and safety will be managed during construction and will contain information that is relevant to all Contractors working on the project. The Construction Phase Plan should be available to anyone who wants to see it and therefore the information contained in it should be clear and easily understood with all superfluous information removed. Issues such as logistics, working at height, hazardous substances, demolition and groundworks should all be considered and included in the Construction Phase Plan if the works include it.

Before any site is set up or work begins in the Construction Phase, the Plan should be developed. While it is the duty of the [Principal] Contractor to develop the Construction Phase Plan, it is the responsibility of the Client to ensure that the Construction Phase Plan is in place before the work begins.

 

Providing Welfare Facilities

Welfare includes the provision of toilets, both lit and ventilated and suitable for both sexes. With more and more female staff working on Construction sites, male and female toilets are thankfully becoming more common, but are open to abuse if not managed correctly. Washing facilities with hot and cold water, soap or skin detergent with a means of drying hands should be close to the toilet facility. Separately, but just as important are rest facilities, a room with tables and chairs with drinking water and cups is a bare minimum.

Where workers will need to change clothes or dry their workwear, a separate changing/drying room with lockers should be provided. It should be noted that while the lockers should be provided by the [Principal] Contractor, it is commonly the responsibility of the Contractor to supply their own key and lock.

The supply of Welfare Facilities is part of CDM15. Where one Contractor is charged with a Construction Project, the Welfare Facilities should be suitable and sufficient for the size of the project and should be available from when construction starts until the end of the project. Were more than one contractor is working on a project, it is the Principal Contractor who is ultimately responsible for ensuring that welfare facilities are provided.

It is the Clients responsibility to ensure that suitable arrangements are provided for workers welfare by the Principal Contractor.

Providing a Site Induction

Suitable site inductions should be provided by the [Principal] Contractor, this may be in groups or given to individuals as they start work. Where there is only one Contractor on site, Site Inductions are still a necessary part of the Construction Phase and should cover all the health and safety risks associated with the site. While each Site Induction will differ from project to project, typical topics that should be covered may be:

  1. The Commitment to Health and Safety by the Contractor
  2. Basic details of the project and the anticipated outcome
  3. What is the management structure on the site – who are the relevant contacts within the organisation
  4. What are site specific health and safety risks (overhead electricity, trees on site, watercourses nearly, railways etc)
  5. How will health and safety on site be controlled via site rule, how will pedestrians and vehicles be segregated, what is the minimum PPE standard, how will deliveries to site be managed, how will temporary electricity be provided, how will hazardous substances be stored)
  6. What are the procedures for accidents and who is responsible for first aid
  7. How are accidents on site recorded and how will RIDDOR events be reported to HSE
  8. When and what will be the subjects of training, toolbox task and task briefings.
  9. How will the workforce be consulted with
  10. What is each individual’s responsibility for health and safety while on site.

Safer Sphere appreciates that the CDM Regulations 2015 and Health and Safety Legislation can be a burden to small and medium-sized contractors. Such organisations rarely have the resource to employ internal Health and Safety professionals, meaning the burden is applied to those managing the organisation or supervising construction activities.

Our aim in this department is to reduce that burden by providing compliant Contractor CDM Support, which enables contractors to make Health and Safety a simple process and gives them the ability to concentrate their efforts in providing quality and cost-effective solutions in their chosen field. Whether you are a “contractor” or acting as “Principal Contractor”, Safer Sphere are here to help you!

Principal Contractor And Employees

What do you need to know about your employees as a Principal Contractor?

A Principal Contractor will need to appoint contractors and workers from different trades and at various stages of the construction process. It is their responsibility to ensure that all contractors and workers on the site have the necessary skills, knowledge, training and experience for the work they are carrying out.

Some contractors/workers will be very experienced in the job they do while others will be new to the profession. Additional information, instruction, training and supervision will be needed to support those who are still developing their experience to become self-sufficient in safe and healthy construction practices.

When a Principal Contractor employs or controls people doing work for them, under the CDM15 Regulations, they must make sure that:

  • they have the necessary skills, knowledge, training and experience to do the job safely and without putting their own or others’ health and safety at risk;
  • they are supervised and given clear instructions;
  • they have the right tools, equipment, plant, materials and protective clothing;
  • they and their representatives are made aware of health and safety issues;
  • arrangements for employees’ health surveillance are made where required.

Who is classed as an employee?

If a person working under the control and direction of a Principal Contractor is treated as self-employed for tax and national insurance purposes, they are still classed as an employee for health and safety purposes. Whether they are employed or self-employed, action needs to be taken to protect all people under their control.

It is common practice for Principal Contractors to appoint contractors, subcontractors and different trades to work on a construction project. When this is done it is essential that they:

  • check their health and safety capabilities;
  • give them the health and safety information they need for the work;
  • talk about the work with them before they start;
  • ensure that everything is provided and agreed before they start (for example safe scaffolds, plant and access to welfare facilities);
  • monitor their performance and remedy any shortcomings.

How is a contractor’s competence determined?

It is important that Principal Contractors make specific enquires about the basic health and safety capabilities of anyone that they are going to employ on a job.

Smaller Projects

On a smaller project, it would be appropriate to ask for evidence from any potential contractor that they are capable of carrying out the work. This could be done by simply asking if they have done this type of work before, requiring references from previous construction work, checking qualifications or training records or by asking them how they plan to carry out the work safely without risk to the health and safety of themselves or others.

Larger Projects

On more complicated or higher risk projects, it is necessary to make more in-depth enquiries. These enquiries can be achieved by using a Construction Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ), more commonly referred to as PAS 91. It comprises of a set of health and safety questions that can be asked as part of the pre-qualification process for construction projects to assess the construction supply chain.

Accurately accessing the competence of any potential contractor is essential. However, it is preferable to only make enquiries for information that will address the anticipated risks and capability of the supplier. If the pre-qualification questions are excessive or duplicated, it can take the attention away from the practical management of risks.

 

Management and Supervision

Once the competency of the contractor has been established, appropriate management and supervision throughout the project must be decided and agreed.

Those managing and supervising the work must have the right mix of skills, knowledge, training and experience. There must be an adequate number of supervisors to reflect the size of the project and workforce. The appointed supervisor working on the site will not only need to be familiar with the type of work planned but will also have to provide the level of supervision required to reflect the level of risk associated with the work. The degree of supervision required will be determined by the level of supervision provided by the contractors themselves. Other additional factors to be aware of is the skill level, knowledge, training and experience of the contractor.

 

Why is it important to engage with Contractors and Workers?

Consultation with all levels of the workforce is crucial to successfully manage health and safety on site. Key information on health and safety risks, including relevant parts of the construction phase plan, need to be shared with contractors. These vital pieces of information should be communicated to workers through induction and worker engagement. The process should be two-way, giving both parties, (or their safety representatives) an opportunity to contribute to decision making.

Engaging Contractors

On a busy construction site, there may be multiple contractors working in close proximity to each other. The Principal Contractor has a responsibility to ensure safe working, co-ordination and co-operation between contractors; this communication is essential to ensure that all contractors and workers on the project are aware of:

  • what has to be done and what is expected of them,
  • when it will be done,
  • how it will be done safely and without risk to anyone’s

Effective coordination will help reduce any possible risks that could occur by contractors working in close proximity on site. It enables different trades to access shared facilities, e.g. scaffolding, without compromising the safety on site.

This coordination of work can be addressed at site meetings when representatives of all contractors are present, and co-operation should be discussed when a new activity or construction phase begins.

Engaging workers

Health and Safety can be managed in a practical way when collaboration with workers is undertaken; this partnership is important because it:

  • helps with the identification of workplace risks;
  • makes sure health and safety controls are practical;
  • increases the level of commitment to working in safe and healthy environment.

Workplaces, where the workers are all involved in helping to make decisions about health and safety, tend to have less incidents. Workers must be consulted, in good time, on health and safety matters and it doesn’t matter whether the workplace is unionised or not. In workplaces where a trade union is recognised, this will be carried out through trade union health and safety representatives. In non-unionised workplaces, consultation can either be direct or through other elected representatives. Consultation involves employers not only providing the relevant information to workers but also listening to them and taking into account what they say before making decisions that affect their health and safety.

Issues that workers should be consulted on include:

  • risks arising from their work;
  • risks from others or the environment they are working in;
  • proposals to manage and/or control these risks;
  • the best ways of providing information and training.

Effective communication and consultation at all levels will help to improve the overall health and safety of everyone working in construction.

 

 

BIM and CDM15

The Future Of CDM And BIM

What Is BIM?

BIM or Building Information Modelling is the name given to a process of creating a detailed digital model of a build asset. From design through to construction and even hand over, a detailed collaborative model of a building can be created and accessed by anyone involved with the design, construction and maintenance of the project.

Think of a building information model in terms of a 3D digital model that not only gives a detailed visual of the building but also contains dimensions, materials used, service and maintenance instructions, material life spans, load bearings, safe working information and more.

Why Do We Need BIM?

Over 2 million people work in the UK construction industry, a figure that represents around 7% of the national workforce. Despite this, the construction industry accounts for around 25% of fatalities in the workplace and a statistically higher number of occupational diseases than any other industry. It’s thought that effective BIM implementation can help reduce these figures.

In addition, if BIM is implemented effectively during the design stages then it will enable CDM duty holders to identify risks in advance and therefore reduce costs considerably. After all, accidents and last minute changes are expensive.

The Future Of CDM And BIM

Identifying risk is the key element of CDM15. If the design stage can utilise digital modelling then many more risks can be identified. From clash detections on electrical cable and pipe runs to the movement of raw materials across the site during the different construction phases.

As BIM software becomes more developed, it’s entirely possible that the entire construction process can be run in virtual reality to detect any conflict with access platforms, cranes, and other construction equipment and processes. A timeline can then be decided to deliver maximum value, minimum construction time and fewer H&S risks.

BIM systems can aid Architects by automatically checking against current health and safety legislation on such things as where safety glass is needed, what the minimum headroom on a stairwell is and so on.

Building Information Modelling isn’t new. In fact as early as 2011, the UK Government published it’s Construction Strategy, the prime aim of which was to reduce the cost of public sector assets by 20%, one of the means of achieving this was to enable all the supply chain to collaborate in a 3D BIM on all government-funded projects by 2016.

The construction division of the HSE is committed to researching how BIM can improve health and safety across projects of all sizes. In addition, the BSI has published a specification (PAS 1192-6:2018)for collaborative sharing and use of structured Health & Safety information using BIM.

How Important is BIM?

You may, depending on your age, remember people asking the same question about word processors, computers, and the internet. BIM is in its early stages in the UK but is being used extensively around the world. Standards are still being designed and the coming months and years will see industry standard single BIM systems that are capable of delivering slick digital records to the client at the end of a project.

CAD drawings, PDFs and multiple digital files will be as outdated as floppy disks in a just a few years.

Building Information Modelling is here to stay, but unlike other technologies, if implemented correctly it will reward the construction industry with fewer health and safety incidents, higher profits and lower costs.