How to ensure your project is covered when the HSE inspector comes calling

15-November-2017 8:24
in General
by Admin

 When the Construction Design and Management Regulations (CDM 2015) were introduced in 2015, construction experts pointed to far reaching consequences for project managers of large and small construction projects. Anyone involved in building and design now had to properly manage the health, safety and welfare of everyone involved in the construction project.

Even though these regulations have been around for a while now, few are aware of the details and what it means for their business and the running of a project. In a nutshell – the new rules are designed to ensure there are measures taken for health and safety on site and risk assessments are undertaken before any work has started.

Construction Phase Plan

If you are the principal contractor on the project you’ll have to prepare a Construction Phase Plan (CPP). This is an outline to highlight that you’ve considered health and safety as an integral part of the project. You need to mark start and finish dates and illustrate the collaboration that has taken place between everyone on the job, so ensuring health and safety measures have been carried out. For businesses during 2017-18, there’s a particular emphasis by HSE inspectors on:

  1. Construction
  2. Falls– work on/adjacent to fragile roofs/materials
  3. Health risks
  4. Duty to manage asbestos

What do HSE inspectors look for?

  1. Construction – referring to the construction sector, the HSE inspectors will be looking at building construction, civil engineering, trades and traders. They’ll be inspecting key risk areas where there’s potential exposure to silica dust, asbestos, and paint and diesel exhaust fumes. There’s also the focus to reduce the injuries given that fatal and major injuries remain high.
  2. Falls– this particularly refers to work done on fragile roofs/materials and roofs/skylights. HSE Inspectors will be questioning business owners on their responsibility regarding repair and maintenance work and how that is undertaken.
  3. Health risks – referring to respirable silica dust, which is dust containing harmful respirable crystalline silica (RCS). This type of health risk can happen during work such as cutting concrete floors, block cutting and chasing brickwork. The HSE has detailed guidance on containing dust and inspectors will be looking at how effective a business is at controlling this according to the guidelines.
  4. Duty to manage asbestos – many buildings constructed prior to 2000 could contain asbestos. The HSE will check to see if there’s any risk of asbestos in older buildings on site. The inspector will want to see how this has been assessed, if an asbestos survey has been carried out and a management and monitoring plan put in place.

What can the HSE inspector do?

Overall, the HSE will be on site to look at how well your business is managing health and safety risks. If you need to be updated or revised, inspectors will then advise on this. The idea is to help business owners / project managers to plan sensibly so risks are managed from the start of the project. They want to make sure you have the right traders for the type of job you need and there’s effective communications between all the professionals and contractors on the project. There also needs to be a transparent engagement policy regarding consultation with workers on site.

To carry out their role, inspectors have a number of tools they will use to enforce the regulations. These can range from written and verbal advice, improvement notices across the project and ultimately prohibition and prosecution notices. Moreover, under the Fees for Intervention (FFI) cost recovery scheme, the HSE can charge you for their time for inspection, investigation and enforcement action. So be warned. The more you do to mitigate risk on a project, the better it is for the health of your business and the project.

Three tips to stay one step ahead

  • Before hiring contractors ensure you check their professional membership, risk assessments, insurance and project references. The HSE has made it clear that it is your responsibility to hire the right contractor.
  • It is crucial you have looked at the risk of asbestos in all buildings. This needs re-emphasising. Owners and landlords should always have an asbestos survey done and then act accordingly on the results of the survey prior to work done.
  • If you’re involved in processes that generate RCS, makes sure you follow the HSE guidelines for controlling dust.

Finally, don’t be complacent on any projects when it comes to health and safety. Many business owners / project managers think that they are safe from HSE inspectors if their primary activities are not part of the above list. This is not true. You should always work meticulously through the guidelines regardless of the age of the buildings and type of work involved.

The standards mentioned above are set to ensure the health and safety of all those involved in a project. The more recent projects that Karsons Consulting have been appointed as project managers on, we have partnered with health and safety and CDM specialists MSAFE to support us as CDM advisors.

We believe that providing a safe working environment and delivering a safe project comes with expertise, and with a ‘measure twice, cut once’ approach to health and safety, risks are mitigated and a safer project is delivered. Feel free to contact us for any health and safety related queries;