Safety in construction should be top of the agenda the instant the project is approved. Ensuring this will minimise risks throughout the pre-construction and construction phrase. There are 5 key things that need to be taken into account in ensuring a successful project.
CDM 2015 identifies a number of key elements to securing construction health and safety. There are 5 key areas you will need to focus on.
- Managing the risks by applying the general principles of prevention;
- Appointing the right people and organisations at the right time;
- Making sure everyone has the information, instruction, training and supervision they need to carry out their jobs in a way that secures health and safety;
- Dutyholders cooperating and communicating with each other and coordinating their work; and
- Consulting workers and engaging with them to promote and develop effective measures to secure health, safety and welfare.
What are the general Principles of Prevention?
The General Principles of Prevention are there to guide duty holders in their approach to identifying the measure they should be taking in order to control the potential risks to health and safety for the particular project they are working on.
In summary, the Principles of Prevention are to:
- avoid risks where possible;
- evaluate those risks that cannot be avoided; and
- put in place proportional measures that control them at source.
CDM 2015 requires designers, principal designers, principal contractors and contractors to take account of these principles in carrying out their duties.
Appointing the right organisations and people at the right time
Ensuring you appoint the right organisations and individuals to a project in the timeline required is fundamental to its success and ensuring health and safety performance.
Appointing designers and contractors
If you are responsible for appointing designers, and this includes Principal Designers, or contractors to work on a project, you must ensure that those you chose have the skills, knowledge and experience to complete the work in a way that secures health and safety. You need to carefully vet appointments to ensure that those eventually chosen are the best possible choice.
- Organisations appointed must have the appropriate organisational capability, this needs to be evaluated and established before making the appointment. Likewise, any designers or contractors appointed as individuals must have the necessary skills, knowledge and experience.
- Timing is also very important when appointing dutyholders, you need to ensure these are appointed at the right time. For example Principal Designers and Principal Contractors need to be appointed before the start of construction phase so they have adequate time to carry out their duties effectively and efficiently and ensure the
- Dutyholders should be appointed at the right time. For example, clients must appoint principal designers and principal contractors as soon as practicable and before the start of the construction phase, so they have enough time to carry out their duties in planning and managing the pre-construction and construction phases respectively.
Contractors appointing anyone for work on a construction site
Whoever a contractor appoints to carry out work on a construction site will need to have, or are in the process of gaining the correct skills, knowledge, training and experience.
It will also be important that sole reliance is not placed on industry certifications or similar candidates have under their belt as evidence that a worker has the right qualities. Nationally recognised qualifications (such as National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) and Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs)) can help provide contractors with assurance and confidence that the holder has the skills, knowledge, training, and experience to carry out the task(s) for which they are being considered for.
Contractors, however, need to recognise that training on its own is not enough. For example, newly trained individuals should be supervised effectively and not trusted to carry out their role effectively as they lack experience.
Providing Adequate Supervision, instruction and information
Depending on the project and the level of skill, knowledge training and experience of the workforce selected will influence the level of supervision, instruction and information that is required. For example, workers will require closer supervision if they are young, inexperienced, or starting a new work activity which they have not done before.
It is also of vital importance that every worker, not matter how experienced, should always know how to get supervisory help, even when a supervisor is not present.
When appointing the correct people, it will be vital to ensure that they have nationally recognised site supervisor training which includes leadership and communication skills. This will make the whole process a lot easier.
For example, they should have experience in delivering suitable site inductions, and it will be second nature for them to provide information such as the procedures to be followed in the event of serious and imminent danger to health and safety.
Cooperating, communicating and coordinating at every level
The cooperation and coordination of dutyholders throughout the project are vital to ensuring health and safety. It is important that communication channels are established and open communication is encouraged to make sure everyone understands the risks and the measures to control those risks.
For example, through regular dialogue between the client, the principal designer and principal contractor, as a project team they can ensure enough time and resources are available to plan, manage, monitor and coordinate the pre-construction and construction phases effectively taking into account all foreseeable risks.
Consulting and engaging with workers
Workers play a key role in ensuring a site is keeping up to health and safety standards. Generally, a workplace where the workforce is consulted regularly is healthier and safer, as they are consistently kept up to date with the latest developments, risks, and procedures.
However, this consultation needs to be two way. It involves giving information to workers, listening to them and taking account of what they say before decisions are made by the duty holder. For example, hold meetings before work starts to discuss the work planned for the day, identify risks and agree one appropriate control measures. Involving workers helps those responsible for health and safety to manage it in a practical way by:
- Spot workplace risks easily and ensuring the workforce know what to do about them;
- Ensure health and safety controls are appropriate
- Maintain and hopefully increase the level of commitment to working in a safe and healthy way.
It’s important that are consultations are handled in good time. The Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977; and Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996 require employers to consult their workforce about health and safety in workplaces where a trade union is recognised.
If a trade union is present this consultation should be handled through union health and safety representatives. If the workplace does not have a recognised trade union (Is non-unionised) any consultation can either be direct with workers or through other elected representatives.