The Health and Safety Executive is about to launch the new Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007, which will combine the existing Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994 and Construction (Health Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996.
The new Regulations, coming into force on 6 April 2007, seek to address the acknowledged shortcomings in the existing scheme, with criticism having been levelled at:
? the bureaucracy associated with the existing Regulations
? the widely perceived failure of the role of the planning supervisor ? the flawed methods involved in competence assessment and
? the inadequacy of health and safety plans in meeting the practical requirements of work on site.
The objectives of the proposed changes
The stated aim of the new Regulations is to reduce injuries and accidents by:
? simplifying and clarifying the Regulations for each “duty holder”
? simplifying and improving methods of assessing competence
? improving the requirements relating to co-ordination and cooperation and
? maximising the flexibility of the Regulations to fit with the vast range of contractual arrangements used in modern construction projects.
The key proposed changes
The new Regulations encompass the following key changes
There should only be two types of construction projects: notifiable and non-notifiable. ‘Notifiable’ projects are broadly defined as those for which the construction stage is likely to last for more than 30 days or 500 person days.
Minimum standards of competence will be introduced to give clients clear guidelines of those consultants/contractors who are competent to carry out functions pursuant to the Regulations.
Clients under the new Regulations are no longer entitled to appoint an agent to act on their behalf and they will have a new duty to ensure that suitable project management arrangements for health and safety are in place.
The role of planning supervisor has been abolished and replaced with a new role of ‘co-ordinator’. The co-ordinator’s principal function is to assist the client to put in place appropriate measures to comply with the Regulations. The client is responsible for ensuring the coordinator’s duties are carried out and that he has adequate resources to do so. The coordinator must be appointed before design works start.
The principal contractor’s duties have been greatly clarified under the new Regulations. In particular, the principal contractor is explicitly required to manage the construction phase of the project from a health and safety perspective.
To make sure the principal contractor has sufficient time to make proper preparations for health and safety, the coordinator will impose a minimum mobilisation period between his appointment and the commencement of work on site. During this period the client and the principal contractor are to ensure adequate facilities are put in place for the construction phase of the project.
The Health and Safety Plan
The Health and Safety Plan will be replaced by the ‘Information Pack’ which is intended to be a practical document providing the necessary information to the relevant people during the construction period. The Health and Safety File will still be required as a post-construction information record, but there will now be one for each building, as opposed to each package of works.
The new Regulations will extend a right of action to any employees suffering injuries that result from an employer’s failure to comply with the Regulations. In practice, however, this does not amount to a radical revision of the current position, as this right is currently available to employees (under the Management (Health and Safety at Work) Regulations 1999) and its inclusion is principally aimed at improving the consistency between the various health and safety legislation.