Although the number of fatalities in the construction industry has been fluctuating, there is no consistent trend in the last four years. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), 2.2 million people work in Britain's construction industry, making it the country's biggest industry and, as has been widely reported, one of the most dangerous. In the last 25 years, there have been over 2,800 fatalities with many more injuries or resulting illnesses.
The government has responded by a major revision of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994 (CDMR 1994), introducing new regulations, which will have a significant impact on the industry and on the way new projects are controlled. The message from the HSE to employers embodied within the new Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 (the Regulations) is to establish a clear command and control regime for construction type activities.
The main changes under the new Regulations are the replacement of the planning supervisor, whose role was largely ineffective, with the CDM co-ordinator and the shift of responsibility for health and safety responsibilities onto the party with the most influence - the client. Despite extensive debate on the Regulations, the HSE is convinced that this will lead to reduced red tape and bureaucracy, effective co-ordination between parties, the deployment of competent people and a focus on effective planning and management of risk.
The Regulations have a very wide application. They apply to all "construction works" which is very broadly defined and includes fitting out, maintenance, redecoration and cleaning works. The term also encompasses preliminary investigations and explorations (though not site survey). A "client" is anyone seeking or accepting the services of another to be used in the carrying out of a project. This definition is wide enough to encompass small companies and one-off clients who may not even be aware of the Regualtions, yet they have to comply with specific and extensive duties.
Duties which apply to all projects General duties include:
Competence: duty holders must not appoint a CDM co-ordinator, designer, principal contractor or contractor unless they are competent to undertake the activity. The Approved Code of Practice (AcoP) defines competence as having:
(i) sufficient knowledge of the specific tasks to be undertaken and the risks which the work will entail; and
(ii) sufficient experience and...