UK law states every construction project requires a detailed construction phase plan. You must have one whether you’re about to build a garden shed or a new high-rise office block. You could run into serious legal problems if you haven’t.
In this article, we look to answer the what, when, and how questions and explain who is responsible for completing a construction phase plan.
Exactly What is the Construction Phase Plan?
Often referred to as a construction phase health and safety plan, a construction phase plan is a document that lists all the risks that are associated with a construction project. It must contain details on all the measures to eliminate or control these risks. Your plan also needs information on work schedules, key stakeholders, communication channels and site facilities.
The plan aims to help you develop a health and safety strategy to keep everybody safe on the work site. Suppose an accident or an incident does occur. In that case, the plan can prove that you recognised the risks and took measures to remove or control them.
Do You Need a Construction Phase Plan?
Let’s say you’re running a small building company. You’ve just taken on a job that involves renovating a domestic kitchen. Do you need a construction phase plan? What if you’re a self-employed contractor and run a one-person business?
The answer is yes. UK health and safety legislation states that any construction work must have a construction phase plan, regardless of how big or small the project is.
What is the Law Around Construction Phase Plans?
The primary legislation is the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015, also known as CDM 2015. This legislation was written to improve health and safety standards in the construction industry.
Before CDM 2015, only construction jobs designated as ‘notifiable’ needed a construction phase plan. ‘Notifiable’ meant that the work was big enough that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) had to be informed. The legislation was amended to include all types of construction work, whether the HSE must be informed or not.
The CDM 2015 defines construction work as ‘the carrying out of any building, civil engineering or engineering construction work.’ This definition includes ‘the construction, alteration, conversion, fitting out, commissioning, renovation, repair, upkeep, redecoration or other maintenance (including cleaning which involves the use of water or an abrasive at high pressure, or the use of corrosive or toxic substances), de-commissioning, demolition or dismantling of a structure.’
If your work fits into any of the above classifications and you don’t write up a construction phase plan, you could face criminal charges or unlimited fines.
When Do You Need to Write a Construction Phase Plan?
When and how should a construction phase plan be used? As with any plan, you must do it before any work starts. Legally, according to the CDM 2015, you can’t even hammer in a nail or move a clod of dirt without one.
But this isn’t to say that your plan is done and dusted once written. It’s a dynamic document that must be updated and amended as the work progresses. If any changes to the work site increase or even decrease the risks, you’ll need to revise your plan accordingly.
How Much Detail Does a Construction Phase Plan Need?
How detailed your plan will be depends on the size of your project. If you’re starting a small-scale construction job, then you can write up a simple plan.
A large-scale construction project is any job that will run for longer than ‘500-person days or 30 working days (with more than 20 people working simultaneously)’ according to the HSE definition.
Larger projects require a more detailed plan, and you must notify the HSE about your proposed work. It’s best to consult with the HSE directly to get advice, but you can also find more detail in our previous blog, How to Check if CDM 2015 Applies to Your Project.
What Should Be Included in Your Construction Phase Plan
What does a construction phase plan include? To provide you with an example, we’ll use the template for smaller-scale building jobs as recommended by the HSE. This involves writing a straightforward document that doesn’t require too much detail. All your plan needs to show is that you’ve put some effort into considering the health and safety aspects of the work you’ll be doing.
The HSE advises that it must include information on these three points:
- Plan – Your schedule and general information about the job
- Working Together – Details of everyone involved in the job
- Organise – A list of the main hazards and what measures you’re taking to eliminate or minimise risks
It’s helpful to look at each point in detail to clarify precisely what they should cover:
The Plan section should cover all the general details of your job, such as:
- The proposed start and end dates
- The client’s details
- The details of the architect or principal designer
- Information on the nature of the job
- Your name and company details
- Details of the principal contractor
- When any services will be connected or disconnected
- The details of your various build stages
- Where service and isolation points are located
- Access restrictions of the property
- If the presence of asbestos is suspected or confirmed
The Working Together section records the details of other specialists, labourers or contractors working on the job. Information on who will make the project’s critical decisions must be included here.
You should detail how you intend to communicate with relevant parties, what information you will provide about the status of the job, how you will coordinate together and how you’ll inform other stakeholders of any changes to working conditions. Changes might include the following:
- Amendments to site rules
- Changes to health and safety information or procedures
- Delays in work schedules
- Changes in work procedures or materials used
All the expected hazards in the workplace must be listed in this section. Workplace hazards can include the following:
- Falls from height
- Collapses of excavations
- Collapses of structures
- Exposure to building dust
- Exposure to asbestos
- Work activities requiring supervision
- Any other conditions that pose a risk to workers or the public
The Organise section must include all possible hazards as well as the measures that will be implemented to eliminate or control the risks. Details on all toilet and washing facilities should be included here. You’ll need to provide information on who is responsible for health and safety on site and how they intend to carry out their duties.
Who Can Write a Construction Phase Plan?
The person who is responsible for completing a construction phase plan is the principal contractor. This person has been appointed to manage the construction stage and supervise the work done by other contractors and labourers. If only one person is on the job, they are designated as the principal contractor. So, if you work alone, don’t look around – it’s you!
Is a Construction Phase Plan the Same as a Risk Assessment?
No, it’s not the same as a risk assessment. Although a risk assessment also involves listing hazards and control measures, it must be a separate document from your construction phase plan. Knowing how to properly conduct a risk assessment is a crucial skill everyone in the construction industry should learn.
Where to Find Risk Assessment Training
With our Construction Risk Assessment course, you can learn everything you need to know about performing a risk assessment. This knowledge will be invaluable when it comes time to write a plan. This online course can be accessed anywhere, anytime, to fit in with busy work schedules.