Every workplace carries with it a range of risks. However, workers in the UK construction industry face many unique hazards that often involve higher risk. To ensure that every project is healthy and safe from start to finish, a health and safety plan must be produced before any work can begin.
This requirement is outlined in the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations, also known as the CDM. CDM gives us specific directions about how health and safety should be managed in a construction site and what should be included in a health and safety plan, as well as who is responsible. It is vital that anyone involved in a construction project understand how this works.
In this article, we will take a closer look at these regulations, what is involved in preparing a construction health and safety plan, and how employers can ensure their staff receives the correct training to implement it.
Who Is Responsible for Workplace Health and Safety?
In the UK, both employers and employees are legally responsible for workplace health and safety.
These obligations are detailed in the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. This legislation sets out the responsibilities that employers have to their employees and the public, as well as the responsibilities employees have to each other.
In general, employers must ensure that employees are informed of any hazards in the workplace and that they receive adequate health and safety training. For instance, if workers are conducting manual handling on the worksite, they must be provided with Manual Handling in Construction training.
Employees must conduct themselves in a manner that does not endanger themselves or anyone else in the workplace. They must also report all workplace hazards and participate in relevant health and safety training.
What are the CDM Regulations?
CDM Regulations were first introduced by the UK parliament in 1994. The aim of this legislation was to safeguard the health and safety of all construction workers. On the sixth of April 2015, the UK government released the most recent CDM Regulations. The updated CDM Regulations 2015 are still the industry standard.
The CDM Regulations 2015 detail a list of steps that must be taken to manage risk throughout any construction project. Responsibilities and duties are distributed amongst “duty holders” involved in the project. Duty holders are defined as designers, contractors, workers, and the clients themselves.
CDM Definitions & Responsibilities
A client is defined as the organisation or individual for whom the construction work is being carried out. Clients can be either domestic or commercial entities. Most domestic clients will confer their responsibilities to the principal designer. Commercial clients have a range of responsibilities they must undertake.
- Appointing project roles
- Preparing a brief that outlines the aims of the project
- Providing a timeline for the contractors
- Collecting all relevant information about the site
- Notifying the HSE about the project
Designers are organisations or individuals who formulate or alter designs for a construction project. or instruct others to do so.
The responsibilities of designers include:
- Assisting the client in setting up the project
- Providing the client with advice on time restrictions and required resources
- Obtaining pre-construction information
- Identifying and reducing or eliminating health and safety risks
- Liaising with contractors
- Managing health and safety documentation
Contractors are defined as the organisations or individuals appointed by the client to carry out the construction work.
- Take note of all health and safety risks
- Consult with the designer and client
- Prepare a Construction Phase Health and Safety Plan (CPHSP)
- Ensure there are adequate facilities on-site
- Organise other contractors and workers
Workers are any individuals that work for or are overseen, by the contractors.
Workers are required to:
- Co-operate with others on site
- Manage their actions regarding overall on-site health and safety
- Report any health and safety issues
Phases of a Construction Project
According to the CDM regulations, construction projects can be broken up into three distinct phases. There are certain things that must be taken care during each phase.
The three construction project phases are as follows:
This relates to all planning and preparation that is undertaken before work commences. During this phase, the pre-construction phase a strategic plan for the project is created as well as a design, permits, or entitlements are secured, and the resources and labour that are required are gathered. Many hazards can be designed out of a project during this phase.
This phase constitutes the period from when work on the project starts up until completion. During this phase, you must continue controlling for hazards that may occur during construction.
Post-construction is the period after all work on a construction project has finished. All physical work completes and all remaining tasks are taken care of.
The Construction Phase Health and Safety Plan (CPHSP)
Primarily, the CDM Regulations 2015 stipulate that before any construction work starts, a detailed plan must be drafted. This document is known as a Construction Phase Health and Safety Plan (CPHSP). A CPHSP should provide information on how all health and safety concerns will be managed and address any safety issues that have been previously raised.
A CPHSP is a legal requirement for any construction project. It is mandatory no matter how big or small the project is, or how long the work goes on for. However, the CPHSP should accurately reflect the scope of the project. A simple CPHSP is sufficient for small-scale work, while a more complicated CPHSP will be required for larger projects.
A CPHSP should be a unique document that details the health and safety risks specific to a construction project. The CPHSP is to be prepared by the contractor performing the work, or by a third party appointed by the contractor.
Typically, a CPHSP will include:
- A description of the project
- The names of all people involved
- Key dates and deadlines
- A list of on-site facilities
- A list of the main on-site hazards
- All control measures taken to mitigate these hazards
Common Risks in the Construction Industry
As we have seen, a CPHSP requires that all potential risks are assessed and outlined. The aim is to accurately identify these risks and formulate methods to control or eliminate them.
This is a crucial job. The UK construction industry has the third-highest rate of fatalities amongst workers, according to the HSE. Additionally, approximately 61,000 construction workers suffered non-fatal injuries as the most recent HSE figures show.
The most common risks in the construction industry are:
- Falls from a height
- Being struck by a moving vehicle or moving object
- Slips, trips, and falls
- Manual handling
- Exposure to dust
- Exposure to asbestos
Each individual work site will have its own unique risks based on the work environment and the type of work that is being carried out. Wherever possible, risks should be designed out of a construction project. For instance, can work at height be completed on the ground?
If risks cannot be eliminated, they must be controlled.
How to Mitigate Risks in Construction Sites
Ensuring staff participate in accredited health and safety training will give them the skills to identify and manage risks in the workplace. Many employers in the construction industry choose to provide their employees with access to relevant online health and safety training courses.
Online courses are often cheaper than classroom-based training. Since they can be taken in separate modules on a range of devices at any time, online courses also allow for more flexibility. Employers can easily organise training sessions to fit in with work schedules.
These days, there are many reputable training providers to choose from. For instance, Human Focus offers a wide range of online health and safety training courses, including Manual Handling in Construction, and CDM management courses. Many training providers also offer other tools such as health and safety checklist systems, which can simplify the implementation of health and safety procedures.