Tag - Principal Contractor Advisor

Construction sites operating, COVID-19

Construction Site Operating Procedures

Construction sites operating during the Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic need to ensure they are protecting their workforce and minimising the risk of spread of infection.
This guidance from the Construction Leadership Council is intended to introduce consistent measures on sites of all sizes in line with the Government’s recommendations on social distancing.
These are exceptional circumstances and the industry must comply with the latest Government advice on Coronavirus at all times. The health and safety requirements of any construction activity must also not be compromised at this time. If an activity cannot be undertaken safely due to a lack of suitably qualified personnel being available or social distancing being implemented, it should not take place.
We are aware that emergency services are also under great pressure and may not be in a position to respond as quickly as usual.
Sites should remind the workforce at every opportunity of the Site Operating Procedures which are aimed at protecting them, their colleagues, their families and the UK population.

If a site is not consistently implementing the measures set out below, it may be required to shut down.

Self-Isolation

Anyone who meets one or more of the following criteria should not come to site:

  • Has a high temperature or a new persistent cough – follow the guidance on self-isolation
  • Is a vulnerable person (by virtue of their age, underlying health condition, clinical condition or are pregnant)
  • Is within 14 days of the day when the first member of their household showed symptoms of Coronavirus

Anyone who is living with someone who is shielding from Coronavirus should stringently follow guidance on social distancing and minimise contact outside the home.

Procedure if Someone Falls Ill

If a worker develops a high temperature or a persistent cough while at work, they should:

  • Return home immediately
  • Avoid touching anything
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue and put it in a bin, or if they do not have tissues, cough and sneeze into the crook of their elbow.

They must then follow the guidance on self-isolation and not return to work until their period of self-isolation has been completed.

Site Travel

  • Wherever possible workers should travel to site alone using their own transport and sites need to consider:
    • Parking arrangements for additional cars and bicycles
    • Other means of transport to avoid public transport e.g. cycling
    • Providing hand cleaning facilities at entrances and exits. This should be soap and water wherever possible or hand sanitiser if water is not available
    • How someone taken ill would get home
  • Where public transport is the only option for workers, the following action is specifically requested:
    • Changing and staggering site opening hours to reduce congestion on the network
    • In central London, avoid using the tube during peak times of 05:45 ‐ 7:30 and 16:00 ‐ 17:30.

Site Access Points

  • Stop all non-essential visitors
  • Introduce staggered start and finish times to reduce congestion and contact at all times
  • Monitor site access points to enable social distancing – you may need to change the number of access points, either increase to reduce congestion or decrease to enable monitoring
  • Remove or disable entry systems that require skin contact e.g. fingerprint scanners
  • Require all workers to wash or clean their hands before entering or leaving the site
  • Allow plenty of space (two metres) between people waiting to enter site
  • Regularly clean common contact surfaces in reception, office, access control and delivery areas e.g. scanners, turnstiles, screens, telephone handsets, desks, particularly during peak flow times
  • Reduce the number of people in attendance at site inductions and consider holding them outdoors wherever possible
  • Drivers should remain in their vehicles if the load will allow it and must wash or clean their hands before unloading goods and materials.

Hand Washing

  • Provide additional handwashing facilities to the usual welfare facilities if a large spread out site or significant
    numbers of personnel on-site
  • Ensure soap and freshwater is readily available and kept topped up at all times
  • Provide hand sanitiser where handwashing facilities are unavailable
  • Regularly clean the handwashing facilities and check soap and sanitiser levels
  • Provide suitable and sufficient rubbish bins for hand towels with regular removal and disposal.

Sites will need extra supplies of soap, 60%+ alcohol-based hand sanitiser and paper towels and these should be securely stored.

Toilet Facilities

  • Restrict the number of people using toilet facilities at any one time e.g. use a welfare attendant
  • Wash hands before and after using the facilities
  • Enhance the cleaning regimes for toilet facilities particularly door handles, locks and the toilet flush
  • Portable toilets should be avoided wherever possible, but were in use these should be cleaned and emptied more frequently
  • Provide suitable and sufficient rubbish bins for hand towels with regular removal and disposal.

Canteens and Eating Arrangements

With cafés and restaurants having been closed across the UK, canteens cannot operate as normal. Whilst there is a requirement for construction sites to provide a means of heating food and making hot drinks, these are exceptional circumstances and where it is not possible to introduce a means of keeping equipment clean between use, kettles, microwaves etc. must be removed from use.

The workforce should also be required to stay on-site once they have entered it and not use local shops.

  • Dedicated eating areas should be identified on-site to reduce food waste and contamination
  • Break times should be staggered to reduce congestion and contact at all times
  • Hand cleaning facilities or hand sanitiser should be available at the entrance of any room where people eat and should be used by workers when entering and leaving the area
  • The workforce should be asked to bring prepared meals and refillable drinking bottles from home
  • Workers should sit 2 metres apart from each other whilst eating and avoid all contact
  • Where catering is provided on-site, it should provide pre-prepared and wrapped food only
    • Payments should be taken by contactless card wherever possible
    • Crockery, eating utensils, cups etc. should not be used
  • Drinking water should be provided with enhanced cleaning measures of the tap mechanism introduced
  • Tables should be cleaned between each use
  • All rubbish should be put straight in the bin and not left for someone else to clear up
  • All areas used for eating must be thoroughly cleaned at the end of each break and shift, including chairs, door handles, vending machines and payment devices.

Changing Facilities, Showers and Drying Rooms

  • Introduce staggered start and finish times to reduce congestion and contact at all times
  • Introduce enhanced cleaning of all facilities throughout the day and at the end of each day
  • Consider increasing the number or size of facilities available on site if possible
  • Based on the size of each facility, determine how many people can use it at any one time to maintain a distance of two metres
  • Provide suitable and sufficient rubbish bins in these areas with regular removal and disposal.

Avoiding Close Working

There will be situations where it is not possible or safe for workers to distance themselves from each other by 2 metres. In these situations, work should not be carried out.

Where workers can distance themselves by 2 metres or more:

  • Plan work to minimise interaction between workers
    • Minimise face to face contact
    • Keep groups of workers together and as small as possible to minimise the risk of transmission across the whole workforce e.g. maintain the same crew and shift pattern
  • Re-usable PPE, e.g. eye protection, protective gloves and respiratory equipment, should be thoroughly cleaned after use and not shared between workers
  • Single-use PPE, e.g. dust masks and vinyl gloves, should be disposed of so that it cannot be reused
  • Stairs should be used in preference to lifts or hoists
  • Where lifts or hoists must be used:
    • Lower their capacity to reduce congestion and contact at all times
    • Regularly clean touchpoints, doors, buttons etc.
  • Increase ventilation in enclosed spaces
  • Regularly clean the inside of vehicle cabs and between use by different operators Site Meetings
  • Only absolutely necessary meeting participants should attend
  • Attendees should be at least two metres apart from each other
  • Rooms should be well ventilated / windows opened to allow fresh air circulation
  • Consider holding meetings in open areas where possible.

Cleaning

  • Enhanced cleaning procedures should be in place across the site, particularly in communal areas and at touch points including:
    • Taps and washing facilities
    • Toilet flush and seats
    • Door handles and push plates
    • Handrails on staircases and corridors
    • Lift and hoist controls
    • Machinery and equipment controls
    • Food preparation and eating surfaces
    • Telephone equipment
    • Keyboards, photocopiers and other office equipment
  • Rubbish collection and storage points should be increased and emptied regularly throughout and at the end of each day.

Guidance has been taken directly from the Construction Leadership Council and updated from the previous version published 23rd March 2020 to reflect the latest guidance issued on the 2nd April 2020.

Protecting the public under CDM15 regulations

Site Preventative Measures for Contractors

Keeping construction sites open whilst minimising any risks will be a key priority for contractors during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have detailed below our guidance on-site prevention measure of COVID-19 that we think will help to minimise the risk of spreading the virus. Our advice is in accordance with Government, WHO and NHS guidance.

Measures

  1. When entering a site, and before touching or handling anything, all site workers/visitors should proceed to the toilets and wash their hands thoroughly (for at least 20 seconds) with anti-septic hand wash and warm water. If available anti-septic handwash is unavailable please use soap and warm water as a minimum.
  2. Personal distancing should be practised by all site workers/visitors i.e. not shaking hands, keeping a distance of approximately 2m apart, avoiding interpersonal physical contact etc.
  3. Stagger lunch breaks to avoid the close proximity of site workers/visitors in welfare areas.
  4. Extra cleaning of welfare facilities, including high alcohol antibacterial washing of these areas, should take place. This should be more thorough and more frequent than your usual cleaning process.
  5. Initiate regular toolbox talks on handwashing and inclusion of Government / NHS guidelines as part of the induction process. Place up step-by-step NHS handwashing guides in rest rooms to remind workers/visitors of best practise.
  6. If visitors need to come to site ensure they have their own PPE as site PPE cannot be shared and the visitor should not be allowed on-site without it.
  7. Do not share any PPE between site workers/visitors.
  8. Ensure all site workers/visitors entering the site are fit, healthy and symptom-free, anyone showing any symptoms, coughing, fever or has been aboard recently to area’s such as Italy should not be permitted on site.

We will continue to monitor government, WHO and NHS guidance and update our guidance accordingly.

Safer Sphere turns 7, Safer Sphere Principal Designer, CDM Advisors

Safer Sphere reaches year 7

Safer Sphere is delighted to reach the young old age of 7 today as the business celebrates its 7th year in operation. We cannot believe how far we have come in such a short period of time including watching our team grow, opening more offices, winning numerous awards as well as working on some amazing projects.

A big thank you to our hard-working team and dedicated clients for your support.

Mansafe CDM15

Designing With a Mansafe in Mind

The Construction Industry is worth around £65 Billion (Investment Per Annum) to the UK`s GDP. This is a significant contribution but what is not always appreciated is that the cost of maintaining and repairing the resulting asset base which is approximately around £26 Billion. It is vital for clients to be provided with assets that may be safely (and economically) maintained and repaired, and effort should be expended in the early stages of a project to ensure that design deliberations extend to a consideration of the whole-life requirements of the facility.

The obligation to consider these matters is already enshrined in law, but it is often poorly reflected, and there is a lack of practical guidance. For many clients and designers, the concept of considering and planning for work that will be done on a facility, often long after its construction, represents nothing less than a cultural shift in work attitudes and thinking. The need for safe access for maintenance and repair in the main stems from the interrelated consideration of the statutory responsibilities of those involved, the ever-growing need for containment of cost, the management of risk in a comprehensive way, and corporate social responsibility, which encompasses sustainability. Those with the responsibility for managing the maintenance and repair of facilities are likely to find that the organisations who carry out this work, will in future increasingly demand adequate provision of safe access, or will price extra for suitable mitigating and controlling measures to compensate for shortfalls in provision. They have their own statutory obligations, so it is in everyone’s interest to get it right first time.

A difficult topic to consider is the implementation of a mansafe system, which comes in all sorts of varieties and makes and is usually shown on a concept drawing by an Architect or Designer, but is this correct? Is it too early in the design to show this system and is the Architect the correct person to design this system?

So what is a mansafe system?

Mansafe systems

Personal Fall Prevention Systems are commonly known in the construction industry as ‘mansafe systems’ and are used to keep the operative safe by connecting them to the system using appropriate PPE. The system comprises cable, post and fixings that are tested to take the fall of the user. These usually take the form of a fall arrest system or a fall restraint system.

Some designers don’t always look at the whole picture i.e. the work at height hierarchy (see Fig 1),

Mansafe CDM15

Figure 1

There is PPE in the explanation of the meaning of a mansafe system but looking at the hierarchy system we have instantly jumped a number of steps. There should be a reason for that and when designing any building we have to design with safety in mind and therefore we have to look at these steps before we say yes to a mansafe system. So, imagine we have looked at the design and established we are going to design a mansafe system, what do we know or understand about the system?

There is a wide range of systems out in the market, but is it a one size fits all scenario? No of course not, there are lots of things to take into consideration.

Under CDM 2015 we should only engage competent designers and people who are experienced in the task at hand, and with all design work, there is a number of standards and legal documents to adhere to, but do you know what they are? There are a number of regulations that need to be considered before we put pen to paper, these regulations are:

  • Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015
  • Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
  • Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
  • Working at Height Regulations 2005
  • Workplace (Health Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992
  • Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998
  • Provision and use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998
  • PPE Regulation (EU) 2016/425 1stEdition April 2018

And then when we start the design, we need to refer to the following:

  • BS8560:2012 +A1:2018– Codes of practice for the design of buildings incorporating safe work at height
  • BS7883:2005 (soon to be 2019)– Personal fall protection equipment – Anchor systems – System design, installation and inspection – Code of practice
  • BS EN795:1997 & 2012– Personal fall protection equipment — Anchor devices
  • BS8610:2017– Personal fall protection equipment – Anchor systems – Specifications
  • PD CEN/TS 16415:2013– Personal fall protection equipment — Anchor devices — Recommendations for anchor devices for use by more than one person simultaneously
  • BS EN 365:2004– Personal protective equipment against falls from height – General requirements for maintenance, periodic examination, repair, marking and packaging
  • BS8437:2005– Codes of practice for the selection, use and maintenance of fall protection systems and equipment for use in the workplace
  • BS7985:2013– Code of practice for the use of rope access methods for industrial purposes – Recommendations and guidance supplementary to BS ISO 2284
  • IRATA International code of practice for industrial ropeaccess– (Third Edition Published July 2014)

Considerations Associated With Installing a Mansafe System

There is an increasing amount of mansafe systems that are not fit for use when installed and these figures are on the rise. We must recognise that a mansafe system is not just a steel rope that attaches to the roof of a building where an operative can hook on and can walk around the building. So, what do we need to look at in regards to the design for a mansafe system?

A new British Standard is due to be released that will help clarify what is required, this new role will call for a System Designer. Regulation 9 & 10 of the CDM Regulations 2015 call for the following:

Regulation 9 and 10 set out the duties placed on designers. These include the duty to eliminate, reduce or control foreseeable health and safety risks through the design process, such as those that may arise during construction work or in maintaining and using the building once it is built.

System Designer: Person with overall responsibility for the design of the anchor system, including certification and handover documentation. This includes the initial risk assessment. The new BS Standard will be BS7883:2019

Personal fall protection equipment – Anchor systems – System design, installation and inspection – Code of practice

This document will list out more design checks and supporting documents to give full accountability for the designed system.

System design specification:  Output documentation resulting from the design process which specifies the anchor system(s) to be installed, how and where they are to be installed and any criteria necessary for their safe access and use.

System technical file documentation:Supplied to the duty holder on completion of the installation by the system designer, to be retained for future reference for the life of the personal fall protection system(s) installed

When designing the configuration of an anchor system, the system designer should avoid over-complex systems whilst maintaining the appropriate level of safety and which:

  1. Give access to all required areas without the need:
  • to disconnect and reconnect to the system;
  • for adjustable personal fall protection equipment;
  • for anti-pendulum anchor devices, if possible;
  1. requires an increased level of user training, competency and supervision (appropriate training is necessary for all users);
  2. c) uses the appropriate personal fall protection equipment to minimize the fall risk without adding complexity.

Legal Obligations

The system designer should:

  • ensure that the anchor system is designed, assembled and installed so that it is safe and without risks to health at all times when it is being used, maintained or inspected;
  • research and ensure that the testing of the products being used to assemble the anchor system is adequate for the intended application;
  • carry out or arrange for the carrying out of such testing that may be necessary to ensure compatibility between assembled parts of the anchor system;
  • carry out or arrange for the carrying out of such on-site testing that may be necessary to prove the integrity of the base material in which the anchor system is to be installed where such integrity is in doubt;
  • not attempt to design an anchor system without knowing what PFPE is to be connected;
  • take such steps as are necessary to ensure that the duty holder is provided with adequate information about the use for which the anchor system is designed and tested and about any conditions necessary to ensure that it will be safe and without risks to health, including when it is being dismantled or disposed of; and
  • take such steps as are necessary to ensure that the duty holder is provided with all such revisions of information that would otherwise give rise to a risk to health or safety.

As well as the legal obligations the system technical file should contain a variety of details, the system technical file should as a minimum contain:

1          Companies involved and relationship

2          Manufacturers & Supplier List

3          Specification / Scope

4          Access Strategy

5          Risk Assessments

  • Design
  • Installation
  • Inspection

6          Delivery Notes

7          Certificate of Conformities

8          Drawings

9          Product & Component List

10        Method Statements

11        Site Commissioning Documents

12        Quality Control Documents

13        Operating and User Instructions

14        Inspection & Maintenance Information

15        Modifications & Major Repairs

No matter what the project is the design stage is the first opportunity for early prevention and trough good design and provision of suitable access, cleaning, maintenance, and replacement strategy information the cost of future operation and maintenance of a building can be significantly reduced for years to come.

 

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.

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.

CDM Services, Principal Designer Advisor, London CDM, Principal Designer London

Safer Sphere appointed on Old Bailey Refurb

We are delighted to share our appointment on a refurbishment project at 20 Old Bailey in London. The project will see the fit-out and associated works to part of the 5th floor of the building to provide serviced office accommodation and facilities. We are pleased to be supporting Consensus Workspace Ltd on the project providing Principal Designer Advisor support and contactor support.

Safer Sphere appointed on 5 Chancery Lane fit-out

We are pleased to have been appointed on the CAT A and B fit-out of Number 5 Chancery Lane in London. The fit-out works include the strip out and replacement of the existing fixtures and fittings and electrical and mechanical installations on the 3rd floor.  Safer Sphere will be supporting Consensus Workspace on the project in RIBA stages 5- 7 in the role of Prinicpal Designer Advisor and will also be providing Contractor Safety Support.

Safer Sphere South, London CDM, South CDM, Prinicpal Designer London

Safer Sphere continue growth with Southern office

Multi-award winning Construction (Design and Management) Health & Safety specialists Safer Sphere, continue with their growth plans by opening a new office based in Reading.
The move comes off the back of an increase in project appointments and overall growth within the Southern region of the UK and follows the opening of the Liverpool office in May of last year.
The new office in Reading will be headed by the company’s latest hire Richard Procter, who has joined the business this month as Associate Director (South). The office will serve all Safer Sphere commissions in the southern region including London which is less than 30 minutes away.

Mike Forsyth, Managing Director, Safer Sphere said “We have seen an increase in demand for our services across the south region with many clients coming back to us for additional projects. We strategically expanded our offices to Liverpool last year so that we could be closer to our Liverpool projects and clients so, with the growing demand in London, South East & West, we decided that expanding our operation around the Southern region on a full-time basis makes sense. Richard is an experienced Construction Health and Safety professional with a vast amount of experience having previously worked at Capita and Carillion, providing a perfect fit for our business and to lead growth in the area. Once Richard has settled in the plans are to bring on board more experienced CDM Consultants from the local area and develop a highly competent southern team.”

Safer Sphere hires new Southern Regional Associate Director

Safer Sphere has appointed a new Associate Director to head up a brand-new southern regional office in Reading, as part of the business’s expansion plans.

Richard Procter formerly of Capita and Carilion will assist the business with its expansion plans in the Southern region and will be taking over numerous projects already secured in the area.

Richard has a wealth of experience in Construction Health and Safety having worked on projects such as Heathrow Airport and Southmead Hospital PFI with a project value of £430m.

Richard said “I am really excited to be joining Safer Sphere this year and to be heading up the Southern region. Safer Sphere is a leader in Construction Health and Safety and the CDM regulations which was demonstrated at the end of last when the company took home the award for ‘CDM Consultant of the Year 2018’ at the National Association for Project Safety (APS) awards. It is a really exciting time for the business, and I am looking forward to bringing my knowledge and experience to the role and helping achieve growth in the area.”

Mike Forsyth, Managing Director, Safer Sphere said “We are delighted to have Richard on board with us. He is an excellent fit for our business and brings with him the knowledge, experience and the skill set to help us achieve our growth plans, building on our current appointments in the South. Richard will be heading up our new Reading office so that he can be close to our current and future projects as well as be on hand to support our clients with discharging their CDM duties.”

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.