A recent case decided by the European Court of Justice has implications for the owners of constructions sites in that it is likely that project supervisors will no longer have discretion to appoint co-ordinators when there is more than one contractor on site.

In case C-224/091*, Commission v Italy, the owner of a building in Italy, who was also the client supervisor, was charged with failing to have regard to the safety duties imposed by European Law. The European Court of Justice held that a coordinator for safety and health matters must always be appointed on a construction site on which more than one contractor is to be present. This is irrespective of whether the works are subject to planning permission or whether the work on the site involves particular risks.

The European Directive* setting out rules for health and safety on construction sites is given effect in Irish Law by the 2006 Construction Regulations. The Regulations prescribe the principal requirements with which Irish construction sites must comply regarding the protection of safety, health and welfare of persons on those sites. The Irish Regulations provide that the project supervisor for the construction stage may appoint a competent person as health and safety co-ordinator for the construction stage to assist in undertaking certain duties listed in the Regulations.

Following the decision in Case C-224/09, it is clear that project supervisors will no longer have discretion on whether they may delegate their duties to a competent health and safety co-ordinator where more than one contractor is present.