Articles about all aspects of CDM 15 regulations.

Occupational Health and CDM15

Occupational Health in the Construction Industry

The construction industry can be viewed as a high-risk industry. Although only 7% of employed people work in this sector, last year it was estimated that there were 82,000 work-related ill-health cases in the construction industry, 62% was musculoskeletal disorders (MSD’S) and 25% were stress, anxiety or depression related (HSE 2017/2018 statistics).

Those who work in construction are also more likely to face long term health issues and each year, around 3,000 workers in construction suffer from breathing and lung problems they believe

were caused or made worse by their work in construction.

 

Smaller Construction Sites

In April 2015 the CDM regulations were updated with a key objective to improve worker protection and improve health and safety standards on smaller construction sites and domestic projects were statistically most injuries, illness and fatalities occur.

For health and safety practitioners in construction, it is important to make sure that information about hazards, risks and risk mitigation measures is clearly conveyed taking into account the audience and making sure that key information is not obscured.  For example, highlighting hazards on layout plans.

When advising clients, designers and contractors, the approach must be proportionate otherwise advice is likely to be missed or ignored.

The focus should be on identifying, designing out and managing issues (especially relating to health) that are not likely to be obvious, are unusual or difficult to manage effectively.  This is especially true on smaller projects where there is likely to be less awareness of health issues in general.

 

Ill Health

Occupational health is a very important issue for those who work in construction and the sector as a whole. Last year there were 51,000 work-related musculoskeletal injuries and 3,000 who suffer from breathing and lung issue.

Health and safety consultants have an important role to play in raising awareness of less obvious health issues to consider.  Long-term ill health issues are often overlooked with the focus on more immediate safety issues. Greater focus is required from the outset of projects to consider health issues in the design and planning stages of projects.

The HSE has rolled out numerous initiatives to combat illness in the workplace including their #Workright and #Dustbuster campaigns. These initiatives help to raise awareness of the issues and highlight the importance of considering and avoiding work-related ill-health including lung disease, MSDs and stress.

 

Disease in the Construction Industry

One of the biggest causes of disease in the industry is exposure to dust. ‘Dust’ includes wood dust, crystalline silica and other components. The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) cover activities which may expose workers to construction dust.

There are three key things you need to do:

  • Assess (the risks)
  • Control (the risks)
  • Review (the controls).

The products, activities and risks associated with dust must be tackled at all levels of a project.

Designers should specify products and processes to minimise the requirement for on-site cutting, scabbling and other activities that will generate dust on site.  Can services be surface mounted rather than cutting channels? Can regular-shaped paving be used to reduce the need for cutting on-site?

Those who manufacture and supply tools and materials have a key role in making changes to the industry too. For example building in dust extract and damping into equipment likely to generate dust.

There is industry-wide recognition of the risks of asbestos with specific legislation being put in place to ban and manage asbestos.  Similar risks are posed by silica dust e.g. from cutting block paving but are less widely known.

 

Mental Health in the Construction Industry

It is not just physical health issues that are affecting people who work in construction but mental health plays a massive part in health and safety. Last year there was an estimated 14,000 work-related cases of stress, depression or anxiety (new or long-standing) which equates to one-sixth of all ill health in the construction industry.

Suicide is still the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45 and as the construction industry is predominantly male then there is a high-risk factor of stress and depression. The industry is well known for being highly stressful with risk to injury, long hours, often working away from home and of course, job security being some of the main pressure points.

It is known that certain job types come attached to stigma and unfortunately, this has led to construction workers, again predominately men not being able to talk about how they are feeling and bottling it up due them not wanting to appear weak.

There is a lot of work still to do in the industry to try and cut through this stigma and encourage workers to talk. When putting together an occupational health strategy, wellbeing should also be taken into account, especially when it comes to mental health. As an employer good communication with the workforce on health, safety and wellbeing is key and there are things that can be done to help alleviate stress in the workplace such as regular breaks and support from colleagues and management. Encouraging workers to talk about potential problems before they become a wider issue should be widely encouraged too, for example, if there is a staff shortage causing a worker to work longer hours, which in turn is causing tiredness and stress then this should be discussed and the worker should feel comfortable addressing this with the employers support.

For support and guidance on putting together an occupational health policy for your business then get in touch with us today.

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 designer using VR

The Age of AI, Can Virtual Reality Aid Design in CDM?

In Construction Design and Management (CDM) the Principal Designer is tasked with managing and monitoring health and safety during the design and planning stages.

The role requires someone who has skills, knowledge, experience and training (SKET) to be able to deliver the role competently.

Part of the difficulty in the job today is that plans are evaluated and reviewed in 2D format with elevations and in sections. While architects are trained over the years to think and be comfortable visualising in this way, not everyone involved in the process, including many clients can do the same and it makes it harder to spot issues, mistakes or safety issues.

Technology such as BIM (Building Information Modelling) and the production of virtual 3D models can change everything. By using BIM models and virtual reality headsets it is possible to walk around a building and find out any flaws at the design stage.

BIM Keeps Design Errors Kept To A Minimum

Currently, flaws in buildings are reviewed with post-occupancy evaluations after people have moved in, lived with the building and encountered problems that need to be rectified. The learnings are carried forward into future design projects so the same mistakes are not made again. With the use of BIM, it is possible that many potential mistakes can be avoided before the building is constructed saving not only money, but enhancing the experience of the building’s occupants from day one by removing niggles, design mistakes, or even major safety issues that would otherwise be missed during the design process. BIM allows the industry to develop a preventive pre-occupancy evaluation methodology rather than one that reacts to mistakes after construction is completed.

A Better Experience For Clients And Designers

BIM is also a much more immersive and engaging way for everyone involved to see the vision of a building, it is a way for it to become ‘real’ and almost tangible before it even exists. This is something especially useful and powerful for clients, but also for designers.

The industry has already been busy developing various BIM software tools and Virtual Reality experiences that allow feedback to be more constructive from users and delivered in a way that can then be used to make important design changes.

For example, clients and designers can view 3D models together look at the same elements in real time, and see important details such as how spaces work in relation to each other, the natural light, the views from different elevations and how the space may be filled. Alongside this, any safety or practical issues can be reviewed. Making these changes in this way saves money for the client and makes projects more profitable for designers, without the need to make emergency changes during a build.

What’s more, the workflow can be shared across a number of different virtual reality devices.
Design software can support VR devices such as Oculus Go making it even more accessible for coordination meetings.

Another advantage for using VR tools is the ability to detect issues at real scale and use headsets to record comments and let the application transcribe it into text which can then be attached to the specific elements in the design. This process feels similar to using other artificial Intelligence (AI) voice tools such as Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri. All that users need to do is press a button and comment.

With these kinds of AI tools, as soon as issues are identified, a report can be produced in the form of a PDF file. Typically the PDF files can be comprised of an automated mark-up, a saved viewpoint, and a comment on the issue. There will also be a timestamp and a note of who the author was. How these are presented will vary depending on the VR software used by the designers.

Virtual Reality Brings The World Closer Together

AI tools also excel when it comes to receiving feedback. They are able to make the whole process very simple and less time-consuming. Using AI and VR in this sense has proven that it can complement existing coordination tools. It has also been found to deliver great results when working on collaborative projects even with remote external consultants.

AI and BIM can also go beyond the design stage and be used in building maintenance, with detailed models able to help pinpoint issues within the structure and its services.

It’s clear that even though BIM and the use of AI is still not fully evolved and in use in all building projects, the potential is there to change the way designers work and how building plans are developed in the future.

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.

Welding Health & Safety

Welding Fumes, LEV and Suitable RPE

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 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.

Angel Meadows development, CDM, Prinicpal Designer, Construction, Manchester CDM, Manchester Prinicpal Designer

Project Update – Angel Meadows Part 1

Angel Meadows Development

Last year we brought you a series of blogs on the Archaeological dig at the Angel Meadows development site which saw various cellars and pavements unearthed as well as advertising, bottles and vials relating to medicine, shoes, and part of a pram frame.

Principal Contractors Westfield Construction is now on site working on behalf of Far East Consortium and the development is now progressing well.

History of the site

It was during the Irish Famine in 1845 that saw many people who could not afford the long sea journey to America and the colonies settle in in England, mainly in the larger cities where there was at least a prospect of finding work. In Manchester, most of the migrants ended up in Angel Meadows. There was purpose-built housing constructed across 33 acres close to the city centre which housed between 20,000 and 30,000 people.  The dark streets, passageways and alleys that linked the housing, were dangerous places frequented by gangs and the area was known to be filthy, unhealthy and had a very high crime rate.

Today Angel Meadows dominates part of the Manchester skyline with cranes as the area is transformed into modern and trendy accommodation schemes.

We will continue to bring you progress images and updates on this dynamic development as it progresses. Safer Sphere is supporting the project in the roles of Principal Designer Advisor and CDM Client Advisor.

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, asbestos is 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, asbestos is or lung cancer.

What Exactly is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a mineral that was once quite widely used during the 1960s and 1970s. 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 structurally safe. 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 Asbestos is that there is still a high risk of exposure to people with certain job roles, in particular, those work as:

  • Carpenters
  • Construction Worker
  • Computer installation engineers
  • Demolition workers
  • Electricians
  • Fire and burglar alarm installers
  • Gas Fitters
  • General maintenance workers
  • Heating and ventilating engineers
  • Painters and Decorators
  • Plasterers
  • Plumbers
  • Roofing Contractors
  • Telephone engineers
  • Architects, Building Surveyors and other such professsionals

How Can Workers Stay Safe?

In our last blog on Asbestos, we looked at the training required to deal with the discovery of the substance along with what to do if Asbestos is uncovered. Here we look at the regulations that mean that the duty holder needs to manage workers’ exposure to Asbestos.

On non-domestic premises, under the regulations the duty holder 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 a licence to carry out any required work.

Asbestos Management Plans

If Asbestos is found to be present, then as the employer you should provide workers with a ‘management plan’ by law. This managment 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.

Removing Asbestos

No attempts should ever be made to remove Asbestos unless you have a refurbishment and demolition survey in place. The survey will determine whether the asbestos removal will require a licensed contractor to remove. If so, prior to any removal an asb5 notification should be submitted to the HSE prior to carrying out the works. If the works are non licensed non-notifiable then appropriate removal training should have been received.

Once removal has taken place on the building the duty holder should keep all removal records for 40 years. From this, an updated management plan should be in place to reflect the items removed from the building and those that remain.

Suspected 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.

Asbestos Awareness Training

There is no legal requirement to repeat formal refresher awareness training every 12 months however, some form of refresher awareness as necessary, this may include e-learning or as part of other health and safety updates. If you require asbestos awareness training refresher our accredited e-learning asbestos awareness courses could be the solution. It provides an economical solution to your training needs and can fit around you and your business. For more information please see our training page.

 

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, Experience and Training Needed by Designers

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

  • Skills, knowledge, experience and Training (SKET) 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 SKET required should be in proportion to the project complexity and the nature and range of potential risks.

Examples of SKET demonstration may include:

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

Examples of organisational capability could include:

  • Pre-qualification 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 pre-construction phase of a project. The client must provide Pre-construction Information and the Principal Designer is obligated to help the client provide it as well as evaluate its adequacy. They must also share Pre-construction 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!