The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation has published draft Health and Safety legislation with the aim of continuing to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries on construction sites. The intention is to sign the legislation into law by June 2013.

New Features

The changes proposed in the Regulations include:

  • The creation of the following health and safety duties for residential property owners when certain types of construction works are carried out:
    • Ensuring that all designers and contractors are competent to carry out their tasks
    • Appointing a Project Supervisor Design Process (PSDP) or Project Supervisor Construction Stage (PSCS) in situations where: the project involves a particular risk specified in the legislation (e.g. close to power lines, wells etc.) and where the project involves more than one contractor or where the project will lasts longer than 30 working days or 500 person days
    • Producing to individuals carrying out future works the safety file which has been provided to them by the PSDP
  • The repeal, replacement and consolidation of existing legislation
  • The reduction in regulatory burden for the construction industry by removing many short, low-risk construction activities from the requirements of the Regulations and reducing the obligation to create and maintain records

Conclusion

With a number of important reforms proposed and a tight deadline to be met, this draft legislation is certainly one to watch.

While some of the proposals are to be welcomed, including the consolidation of various pieces of legislation and reducing the range of activities caught, the legislation will have implications both for end users (particularly residential property-owners) with new duties being imposed on them.

The Regulations will also affect construction professionals, as it will expect them to carry out additional health and safety roles. Apart from the fact that many construction professionals are reluctant to take on these roles, there will also be cost, insurance and liability issues. It will be interesting to see how the Regulations shape the industry going forward and how works are to be carried out.