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Read some of our latest news, views and comments on issues and news within the industry.

Trusted Member of the Guild of Builders and Contractors

28 August 2015 by Administrator

The Guild of Builders and Contractors is pleased to announce the introduction of a new grade of membership - the membership category "Trusted Member".

Trusted Membership is open to builders, specialist contractors and construction consultants who can satisfy the higher standards required. These standards include more vigorous financial and credit checks, a comprehensive level of insurance cover and additional customer references. These standards have to be maintained each year. Due diligence checks are carried out every year and membership is only continued if the member maintains the required standard.

In order to become a "Trusted Member" of the Guild of Builders and Contractors applicants must be able to demonstrate that they are experienced and knowledgeable and trade with integrity. They must fulfil a number of conditions on application and then annually.

They must be able to demonstrate successful trading over a minimum period of three years by providing: three customer referees, a reference from their accountants and insurance brokers, three years audited trading accounts and appropriate insurance cover details. They must also agree to provide similar information annually.

All work carried out by a Trusted Member must comply with Relevant Standards. This involves the Trusted Member being confident of his ability to do the work before contracting to carry out the work. The Trusted Members, their employees and sub-contractors must act in a courteous manner and respect the privacy and property of the Client.

Trusted Members must be clear about the nature and extent of the services that will be provided for their Clients.. This should involve providing the Client with a written Contract. Trusted Members must provide their Clients with clear information on the cost involved in carrying out the work or providing a service and whether this represents an estimate or firm quotation. Trusted Members must agree the price for the project, materials or service and how they wish to be paid, e.g. on completion or in stages. This should involve providing the Client with details of the deposit required and the payment stages or valuation periods. Full payment should not normally be requested in advance. However, a deposit is appropriate to cover the purchase of materials as are stage payments if the work is likely to take over four weeks. Stage payments every two weeks would not be considered unreasonable.

Trusted Members must advise Clients on when work will start, the particular implications of any stages of work and when work will be finished. They must also provide Clients with appropriate information for each job prior to starting any work. Clients must also be kept fully aware of any alterations to timetables and explanations for changes should always be given.

The annual subscription for Trusted Membership is £300.00 including VAT and there is a joining fee of £50.00 including VAT.

You can join here /join/how-to-join.aspx

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CDM 2015 – IS THE HSE FIT FOR PURPOSE?

30 January 2015 by Administrator

CDM 2015 - IS THE HSE FIT FOR PURPOSE?

The HSE have now issued their final version of the new Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. These new Regulations are due to be placed before Parliament in the coming weeks, with a view to implementing them on 6th April 2015. If Parliament approves the final version we predict a "disaster" for the construction industry in terms of fatal and serious injuries to building workers.
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The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994 were introduced as a result of the European Directive 92/57/EEC to implement a minimum standard of safety and health on temporary and mobile construction sites.
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The Regulations were then replaced with the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 which represented a significant improvement over the original 1994 Regulations.
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The HSE have now consulted on a revision to these Regulations to create the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015.
The HSE's recent consultation document stated that the reasons for the changes were as follows:
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• The shortening and structural simplification of the Regulations with the removal of the Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) and its replacement with straightforward guidance aimed at specific industry sub-sectors
• To replace the CDM co-ordinator role with the Principal Designer
• To replace the explicit requirement for individual competence with new regulation 8 and removing CDM's explicit requirement for corporate Competence
• To ensure that the clients' duties also include domestic clients
• To reduce the threshold for appointment of the co-ordinator role
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Some of these changes are required a result of ongoing non-compliance with the original EU Directive, and some changes were designed to remedy perceived faults with the way that the existing Regulations were being implemented.
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The proposed changes have been under consideration for many years now, but have been delayed significantly because of problems with the solutions that have been developed. The new Regulations are now being pushed through at the last moment in order that they can be implemented before the General Election. The guidance documents were released literally at the last moment permissible to allow this process to take place, and they do not appear to have been considered adequately. We are very concerned that the legislation and guidance has been rushed through in an ill-considered format simply to achieve the deadline imposed by the General Election and the suspension of Parliament.
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The HSE released a consultation document relating to proposed changes between 31st March 2014 and 6th June 2014. There were 1427 responses to the consultation.
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However 65% of the responses were from CDM Co-ordinators and the entertainment industry. The outcome of the public consultation has stated that these responses were essentially ignored as these responses constituted "campaigns". We understand that this is a legitimate tactic used by Government in order to drive through legislation. However most responses were in fact balanced views of the proposals, and we are aggrieved that these and our views could be so simply dismissed.
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Our concerns are that this latest set of Regulations has been poorly thought through and will:
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• Create a significant step backwards in health and safety regulation in the construction industry, endangering workers.
• Create significant duties for designers, who are often poorly qualified to complete them.
• Create significant duties for Clients, without them having the automatic advice that was afforded to them by the CDM Co-ordinator.
• Increase the cost of compliance in the construction industry, instead of the stated aim to reduce cost.
• Will increase costs to all homeowners carrying out construction works in their own homes.
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The new 'final' HSE draft confirms that the 2015 Regulations will not exclude temporary and mobile structures (unlike CDM 2007, which made a specific exclusion).
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This will have a significant impact of the entertainment and events industries. Any construction project (now including temporary structures) where there will be more than one contactor on site will fall under the proposed Regulations and will require the Client to perform their duties as outlined in the draft guidance and the appointed Principal Designer (presumably the set designer?) to discharge their duties. This introduces a huge amount of projects which were not previously subject to CDM 2007 e.g. construction of a Film / TV set, music events, sports events etc.
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Possibly the most significant effect of the new regulations is the removal of the client advisor role provided by CDM Co-ordinators. Previously the CDM Co-ordinator was legally required to "give advice and assistance to the client undertaking the measures he needs to take to comply with these Regulations …" In the 2015 revision the duty on the Principal Designer extends only to providing advice with respect to Pre-Construction Information.
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This change will leave Clients for construction works, many of whom have no construction experience, exposed to criminal duties without the automatic advice that was afforded to them by CDM Co-ordinators.
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We have spoken to many high-profile clients who are extremely concerned as to how they will be exposed under these new Regulations. The HSE Guidance document does recommend that Clients may need to "draw on competent advice", but this is now not automatically provided to them by the CDM Co-ordinator.
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We have a close working relationship with several hundred designers, in particular architects, and we have consulted with them on the how these proposals will influence them.
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The proposed changes forces upon them the expectation to fulfil the role of Principal Designer, (this role replaces the CDM Co-ordinator). Most of the architects that we have spoken to feel ill-equipped to fulfil this role, and as a result they are seeking to subcontract the duties to firms of specialists.
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The replacement of the CDM Co-ordinator with the Principal Designer will simply lead to a situation whereby, far from reducing construction costs as intended by the new Regulations, Architects will seek a quotation from other consultants and will then in all likelihood mark these up to cover the additional responsibility of being named 'Principal Designer'. Since broadly speaking the same documentation needs to be produced, the costs are not simply going to vanish as hoped by the HSE; they will just be subcontracted and marked up. We are advised that both the APS and RIBA are currently drafting sub-consultancy contracts to be used in these new circumstances.
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The CDM Co-ordinator was a source of specialist health and safety advice throughout the construction process. The role has been split between Clients, Designers and Contractors. Frequently Clients and Designers have little or no understanding of health and safety. The removal of the specialist CDM Co-ordinator role will create a disjointed approach throughout the construction process, and in many cases, will remove the one duty holder who did understand health and safety and provided advice. This will undoubtedly have a negative effect on health and safety on construction sites.
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The proposed solution to the non-compliance issue in the EU Directive is to pass Domestic Client duties to the Principal Contractor by default. This solution is unworkable as it ignores the fact that many Client duties need to be fulfilled prior to the appointment of a Principal Contractor.
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The new Regulations will undoubtedly affect the cost of small scale domestic construction works, as contractors will need produce additional documentation and fulfil more onerous duties.
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The HSE have stated on numerous occasions that the main area of focus needs to be at the SME end of the construction industry. We agree with them. However, the new Regulations change the threshold of notification to the HSE from being "30 working days, or 500 person days" to "30 working days with 20 or more people on site, or 500 person days". This will reduce the number of smaller projects notified to the HSE substantially.
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In the Construction Industry Training Boards' Guidance Notes they give rather banal advice to Principal Designers on actively encouraging designers to work together as a team "You can support their communication by providing breakfast for an early meeting or by celebrating project milestones".
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We appreciate that there may be wider political issues including the government's goal of "reducing red tape", but we are sure that when the public express concerns about health and safety legislation they are concerned with low risk environments, and not construction, which is one of the most dangerous industries in the UK. We also appreciate that there is a requirement to deal with the under-compliance with the EU Directive, but these proposed changes are ill-considered, are being forced through in the final months of Parliament, and will have far reaching effects on the construction industry for years to come.
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We suggest that the Coalition Government think again as they will be seen as responsible for the predicted increase in fatal and serious injuries to construction workers. What a legacy to leave!
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______________________________________________________________________________
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For further information contact:
E A Goddard, FIOD, FCMI, FIAM, RFAPS
Director
The Guild of Builders and Contractors
Crest House, 102-104 Church Road, Teddington, TW11 8PY
Tel: 0208 977 1105 Email: info@buildersguild.co.uk

 

 

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CDM 2014 – A RECIPE FOR DISASTER

09 May 2014 by Administrator

Recently the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) published their proposals to replace the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and issued a consultative document.  We believe that the proposed 2014 Regulations, if adopted, will set the building industry back over 30 years in terms of fatalities and serious injuries to those working on construction projects.

The HSE said in a statement published a short while ago: "There have been significant reductions in the number and rate of injury over the last 20 years or more. Nevertheless, construction remains a high risk industry. Although it accounts for only about 5% of the employees in Britain it still accounts for 22% of fatal injuries to employees and 10% of reported major injuries."
However it is a fact that the annual rate of fatalities on construction sites has reduced by 62% since the introduction of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994. Over the same period the rate of major injuries on construction sites has reduced by 38%.
In the light of these facts, why is the Government about to make fundamental changes to the CDM Regulations? The only positive change proposed is that, for the first time, domestic projects will be included in the Regulations. Almost all of the changes will result in significant reductions in the safe planning and co-ordination of building work and the safe use and maintenance of completed projects.
It is undoubtedly a grave error to remove the "competence" requirement from the Regulations. There is overwhelming evidence that the lack of training and experience and pure incompetence is the root cause of the majority of accidents. It is not acceptable for the HSE to refer to the balance between costs and benefits in the competence arena as a reason for omitting a requirement for a high level of competence of all individuals and corporate bodies involved in the construction process. Proof of competence need not be excessively bureaucratic if it is engrained in the policies of corporate structures of any size. It is untrue for the HSE to say that competence is most effectively promoted through cultural change and leadership in the industry rather than regulation. Anyone involved in small and medium size building projects will have seen evidence of a lack of training and knowledge and simple incompetence resulting in avoidable and unnecessary accidents and injuries.
The CDM Regulations were originally introduced in 1994 and created the role of Planning Supervisor. The Regulations were then redrafted in 2007 and these changed the Planning Supervisor's role into the current role of the CDM Co-ordinator that is a familiar part of the construction industry today. The CDM Co-ordinator is a trained and competent health and safety professional and is the principal advisor on health and safety matters to the entire design and construction team. The proposals to remove this role and incorporate the responsibilities in the new role of Lead Designer will mean removing the independent and professional role in health and safety planning and the continuity of responsibility from initial planning to practical completion of the construction process. The costs of instructing an independent CDM Co-ordinator are grossly overstated in the consultation document and the benefits are more appreciated and acknowledged by architects and clients. This is the most irresponsible proposal that the HSE has made in the consultation document.
The second most irresponsible proposal is to replace the Approved Code of Practice with a suite of targeted guidance. We believe that regulatory requirements create the motivation for achieving higher standards and continuous improvements in health and safety leading to innovation and best practice. Omit regulation and standards will fall and fatalities and serious accidents will increase. Guidance should assist in the understanding of regulations not replace them.
The intention of introducing a new role that of "Principal Designer" is the third most irresponsible proposal. Only people who are competent and experienced enough to act as CDM Co-ordinators could possibly carry out the role effectively. However the title indicates that a person who is a designer is capable of performing the proposed duties. The training of an architect does not currently cover fully the duties envisaged in the consultation document. Many architects do not want to take on the role as it would involve additional training and increase their workload for which they may not be able to seek additional payment from clients.
The HSE state that "two thirds or more of fatalities now occur on small sites - sites where fewer than 15 people work". The EU Directive requires the UK regulations to include building work for domestic clients much of which constitutes "small sites". It is totally illogical to change the requirements for notification of a project to one that will have more than 20 workers working simultaneously at any point in the project as well as lasting longer than 30 working days. The current requirement 30 working days or 500 person days is more logical and likely to be more effective in ensuring competent management of smaller projects.
The removal of the requirement for a competent duty holder to advise clients on the suitability of the Construction Phase Plan is the fourth most irresponsible item. This requirement was effectively a final preconstruction check that ensured that the principal contractor had considered all of the risks associated with the project. Under the CDM 2007 Regulations, the CDM Co-ordinator often identified omissions in the Construction Phase Health and Safety Plan and therefore the removal of this requirement will undoubtedly lead directly to an increase in accidents and injuries.
When it comes to the lives and well-being of workers on building sites what should be the criteria of Government represented by the HSE? Should it be to do as much as possible or as little as they can get away with? We hope that the answer is clear.
The construction industry has worked hard to reduce the appalling rate of accidents in construction we hope that Government does not accept the current proposals by the HSE and set the construction industry back 30 years in terms of the number of fatal and serious injuries. We owe it to the hardworking men and women working on construction sites to do all in our power to keep them from preventable and sometimes fatal accidents. Removing the CDM Co-ordinators role, or the competence requirements will be a disaster and will be seen as throwing the baby out with the bath water.
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E A Goddard, Executive Director of the Guild of Builders and Contractors and Fellow of the Association for Project Safety
For further information:
Telephone: 0208 977 1105
Email: info@buildersguild.co.uk
Web; www.buildersguild.co.uk

Recently the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) published their proposals to replace the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and issued a consultative document.  We believe that the proposed 2014 Regulations, if adopted, will set the building industry back over 30 years in terms of fatalities and serious injuries to those working on construction projects.

The HSE said in a statement published a short while ago: "There have been significant reductions in the number and rate of injury over the last 20 years or more. Nevertheless, construction remains a high risk industry. Although it accounts for only about 5% of the employees in Britain it still accounts for 22% of fatal injuries to employees and 10% of reported major injuries."

However it is a fact that the annual rate of fatalities on construction sites has reduced by 62% since the introduction of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994. Over the same period the rate of major injuries on construction sites has reduced by 38%.

In the light of these facts, why is the Government about to make fundamental changes to the CDM Regulations? The only positive change proposed is that, for the first time, domestic projects will be included in the Regulations. Almost all of the changes will result in significant reductions in the safe planning and co-ordination of building work and the safe use and maintenance of completed projects.

It is undoubtedly a grave error to remove the "competence" requirement from the Regulations. There is overwhelming evidence that the lack of training and experience and pure incompetence is the root cause of the majority of accidents. It is not acceptable for the HSE to refer to the balance between costs and benefits in the competence arena as a reason for omitting a requirement for a high level of competence of all individuals and corporate bodies involved in the construction process. Proof of competence need not be excessively bureaucratic if it is engrained in the policies of corporate structures of any size. It is untrue for the HSE to say that competence is most effectively promoted through cultural change and leadership in the industry rather than regulation. Anyone involved in small and medium size building projects will have seen evidence of a lack of training and knowledge and simple incompetence resulting in avoidable and unnecessary accidents and injuries.

The CDM Regulations were originally introduced in 1994 and created the role of Planning Supervisor. The Regulations were then redrafted in 2007 and these changed the Planning Supervisor's role into the current role of the CDM Co-ordinator that is a familiar part of the construction industry today. The CDM Co-ordinator is a trained and competent health and safety professional and is the principal advisor on health and safety matters to the entire design and construction team. The proposals to remove this role and incorporate the responsibilities in the new role of Lead Designer will mean removing the independent and professional role in health and safety planning and the continuity of responsibility from initial planning to practical completion of the construction process. The costs of instructing an independent CDM Co-ordinator are grossly overstated in the consultation document and the benefits are more appreciated and acknowledged by architects and clients. This is the most irresponsible proposal that the HSE has made in the consultation document.

The second most irresponsible proposal is to replace the Approved Code of Practice with a suite of targeted guidance. We believe that regulatory requirements create the motivation for achieving higher standards and continuous improvements in health and safety leading to innovation and best practice. Omit regulation and standards will fall and fatalities and serious accidents will increase. Guidance should assist in the understanding of regulations not replace them.

The intention of introducing a new role that of "Principal Designer" is the third most irresponsible proposal. Only people who are competent and experienced enough to act as CDM Co-ordinators could possibly carry out the role effectively. However the title indicates that a person who is a designer is capable of performing the proposed duties. The training of an architect does not currently cover fully the duties envisaged in the consultation document. Many architects do not want to take on the role as it would involve additional training and increase their workload for which they may not be able to seek additional payment from clients.

The HSE state that "two thirds or more of fatalities now occur on small sites - sites where fewer than 15 people work". The EU Directive requires the UK regulations to include building work for domestic clients much of which constitutes "small sites". It is totally illogical to change the requirements for notification of a project to one that will have more than 20 workers working simultaneously at any point in the project as well as lasting longer than 30 working days. The current requirement 30 working days or 500 person days is more logical and likely to be more effective in ensuring competent management of smaller projects.

The removal of the requirement for a competent duty holder to advise clients on the suitability of the Construction Phase Plan is the fourth most irresponsible item. This requirement was effectively a final preconstruction check that ensured that the principal contractor had considered all of the risks associated with the project. Under the CDM 2007 Regulations, the CDM Co-ordinator often identified omissions in the Construction Phase Health and Safety Plan and therefore the removal of this requirement will undoubtedly lead directly to an increase in accidents and injuries.

When it comes to the lives and well-being of workers on building sites what should be the criteria of Government represented by the HSE? Should it be to do as much as possible or as little as they can get away with? We hope that the answer is clear.

The construction industry has worked hard to reduce the appalling rate of accidents in construction we hope that Government does not accept the current proposals by the HSE and set the construction industry back 30 years in terms of the number of fatal and serious injuries. We owe it to the hardworking men and women working on construction sites to do all in our power to keep them from preventable and sometimes fatal accidents. Removing the CDM Co-ordinators role, or the competence requirements will be a disaster and will be seen as throwing the baby out with the bath water.

------------------------

E A Goddard, Executive Director of the Guild of Builders and Contractors and Fellow of the Association for Project Safety

For further information:

Telephone: 0208 977 1105

Email: info@buildersguild.co.uk

Web; www.buildersguild.co.uk

 

0 comment(s)

 

Safety in Construction

02 January 2014 by Administrator

Recently the Health and Safety Executive commented: "There have been significant reductions in the number and rate of injury over the last 20 years or more. Nevertheless, construction remains a high risk industry. Although it accounts for only about 5% of the employees in Britain it still accounts for 22% of fatal injuries to employees and 10% of reported major injuries."

From research carried out by the Guild of Builders and Contractors it was found that the annual rate of fatalities on construction sites has reduced by 62% since the introduction of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994. Over the same period the rate of major injuries on construction sites has reduced by 38%.
In the light of these facts, why is the Government about to make fundamental changes to the CDM Regulations? The proposed changes certainly have some very sensible and positive additions that will address areas of weakness; in particular, for the first time, domestic projects will be included in the Regulations. With many major refurbishment projects being undertaken to very large houses, including installing basements, it seemed irresponsible not to include them in "notifiable projects", especially in view of the number of fatal and serious accidents that occur in these types of projects. However it is undoubtedly a grave error to remove the "competence" requirement from the Regulations. There is overwhelming evidence that the lack of training and experience and pure incompetence is the root cause of the majority of accidents.
The CDM Regulations were originally introduced in 1994 and created the role of Planning Supervisor. The Regulations were then redrafted in 2007 and these changed the Planning Supervisor's role into the current role of the CDM Co-ordinator that is a familiar part of the construction industry today. The CDM Co-ordinator is a trained and competent health and safety professional and who is the principal advisor on health and safety matters to the entire design and construction team. The proposals are to remove this role and incorporate the responsibilities in the lead designers and the principal contractor's roles. This will mean removing the independent and professional role in health and safety planning and remove the continuity of responsibility from initial planning to practical completion of the construction process.
The construction industry has worked hard to reduce the appalling rate of accidents in construction we hope that Government does not pressure the Health and Safety Executive when reevaluating the CDM Regulations 2007 to remove vital parts of the legislation and set the construction industry back 30 years in terms of the number of fatal and serious injuries. We owe it to the hardworking men and women working on construction sites to do all in our power to keep them from preventable and sometimes fatal accidents. Removing the CDM Co-ordinators role, or the competence requirements will be a disaster and will be seen as throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Recently the Health and Safety Executive commented: "There have been significant reductions in the number and rate of injury over the last 20 years or more. Nevertheless, construction remains a high risk industry. Although it accounts for only about 5% of the employees in Britain it still accounts for 22% of fatal injuries to employees and 10% of reported major injuries."

From research carried out by the Guild of Builders and Contractors it was found that the annual rate of fatalities on construction sites has reduced by 62% since the introduction of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994. Over the same period the rate of major injuries on construction sites has reduced by 38%.

In the light of these facts, why is the Government about to make fundamental changes to the CDM Regulations? The proposed changes certainly have some very sensible and positive additions that will address areas of weakness; in particular, for the first time, domestic projects will be included in the Regulations. With many major refurbishment projects being undertaken to very large houses, including installing basements, it seemed irresponsible not to include them in "notifiable projects", especially in view of the number of fatal and serious accidents that occur in these types of projects. However it is undoubtedly a grave error to remove the "competence" requirement from the Regulations. There is overwhelming evidence that the lack of training and experience and pure incompetence is the root cause of the majority of accidents.

The CDM Regulations were originally introduced in 1994 and created the role of Planning Supervisor. The Regulations were then redrafted in 2007 and these changed the Planning Supervisor's role into the current role of the CDM Co-ordinator that is a familiar part of the construction industry today. The CDM Co-ordinator is a trained and competent health and safety professional and who is the principal advisor on health and safety matters to the entire design and construction team. The proposals are to remove this role and incorporate the responsibilities in the lead designers and the principal contractor's roles. This will mean removing the independent and professional role in health and safety planning and remove the continuity of responsibility from initial planning to practical completion of the construction process.

The construction industry has worked hard to reduce the appalling rate of accidents in construction and we hope that Government does not pressure the Health and Safety Executive when reevaluating the CDM Regulations 2007 to remove vital parts of the legislation and set the construction industry back 30 years in terms of the number of fatal and serious injuries. We owe it to the hardworking men and women working on construction sites to do all in our power to keep them from preventable and sometimes fatal accidents. Removing the CDM Co-ordinators role, or the competence requirements will be a disaster and will be seen as throwing the baby out with the bath water.

 

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An update on our November blog on the CDM Regulations

24 January 2013 by Administrator

Since publishing our blog item "Will the Government make a disastrous mistake?" we have received a number of supporting letters, telephone calls and emails as well as requests for additional information on accident statistics over the period that the CDM Regulations have been in force.

In December 2012 we stated:

"The CDM Regulations were originally introduced in 1994 and created the role of Planning Supervisor. The Regulations were then redrafted in 2007 and these changed the Planning Supervisor's role into the current role of the CDM Co-ordinator that is a familiar part of the construction industry today. The regulations placed significant responsibilities on the Client in relation to safety, but created the CDM Co-ordinator in recognition of the fact that many Clients know little about construction or health and safety. The decision to create a dedicated role for health and safety within the design team, (rather than to leave the co-ordination role with the designers), was made in part because of the refusal of many designers to recognise their responsibility for health and safety in construction. This important step forward in the management arrangements for construction works now appears to be under threat. It would be foolhardy to change or reduce the role of the independent CDM Coordinator just as it is proving to be so effective."

and

"It is important that any changes proposed by the HSE build on the successes of the existing legislation whilst remedying the perceived inadequacies, but as an industry we have worked hard to reduce the appalling rate of accidents in construction and we should not forget that the CDM Regulations have been an absolutely crucial part of this. We hope that during the consultation period common sense will prevail and the Government will not set the construction industry back 30 years in terms of the number of fatal and serious injuries. We owe it to the hardworking men and women working on construction sites to do all in our power to keep them from preventable and sometimes fatal accidents."

The Health and Safety Executive have included the following statement in their website:

"There have been significant reductions in the number and rate of injury over the last 20 years or more. Nevertheless, construction remains a high risk industry. Although it accounts for only about 5% of the employees in Britain it still accounts for 22% of fatal injuries to employees and 10% of reported major injuries."

From our research we have found that the annual rate of fatalities on construction sites has reduced by 62% since the introduction of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994. Over the same period the rate of major injuries on construction sites has reduced by 38%.

It is a significant fact that between 45% and 60% of fatal and major injury accidents on construction sites take place on refurbishment projects, many of which are not the subject of formal notification to the HSE.

We reiterate that we hope that during the consultation period common sense will prevail and the Government will not set the construction industry back 30 years in terms of the number of fatal and serious injuries.

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Will the Government make a disastrous mistake?

06 November 2012 by Administrator

The Government has asked various departments to make financial savings, cut out waste and unnecessary bureaucracy in addition to targeting senseless health and safety rules. Much of these objectives are to be applauded. However it would be a mistake to follow the current proposals recently outlined by the Chief Inspector of Construction at the Health and Safety Executive and in particular the role of the CDM Co-ordinator.

The Health and Safety Executive announced last week that it intends to redraft the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 with a view to basing the new regulations more closely on the requirements of the EU Temporary or Mobile Construction Sites Directive. Details are due to be presented to the Health and Safety Executive Board in December 2012, with a public consultation in 2013 and a target for introducing the new CDM Regulations in 2014.

Philip White, The HSE Chief Inspector of Construction has outlined the proposed changes to address some of the perceived failings within the existing Regulations. Whilst some of these would appear to represent positive steps forward in the reduction of unnecessary bureaucracy, it would appear that many of the proposed changes would result in a significant retrograde step in health and safety within the construction industry.

It is important to start by acknowledging the influence that the CDM Regulations have made in the reduction of deaths within the construction industry since their introduction in 1994. Whilst there are some aspects of the existing regulations that may be seen as bureaucratic, other aspects of the regulations have resulted important advancements in design and management across the construction industry, and the overall effect of the regulations cannot be ignored - the rate of fatal injuries to workers in construction has fallen by 47% since the 1999/2000 baseline and by over 60% since 1994.

The EU Temporary or Mobile Construction Sites Directive.

One of the fundamental reasons for the review of the CDM Regulations 2007 is the fact that the existing regulations do not conform to the full requirements of the EU Temporary or Mobile Construction Sites Directive (TMCS). In areas such as competence the 2007 CDM Regulations "gold plate" the requirements, but in other areas the CDM Regulations do not comply fully with the requirements - most notably by not imposing duties on owner-occupiers of residential properties. There are many deaths and serious injuries on construction projects taking place in residential properties where the owners do not have duties to ensure for instance that the contractors are competent and produce and adhere to a comprehensive Construction Phase Plan.

Clearly any review of the regulations would need to address the issue of compliance with the Temporary or Mobile Construction Sites Directive, but an intelligent approach that takes into account the workings of the UK's construction industry is required, rather than the governments desired approach of simply copying out the TMCS and applying it to UK law. The UK's "gold plating" of the EU Directive saves many lives and serious injuries.

The Role of the CDM Co-ordinator

The CDM Regulations were originally introduced in 1994 and created the role of Planning Supervisor. The Regulations were then redrafted in 2007 and these changed the Planning Supervisor's role into the current role of the CDM Co-ordinator that is a familiar part of the construction industry today. The regulations placed significant responsibilities on the Client in relation to safety, but created the CDM Co-ordinator in recognition of the fact that many Clients know little about construction or health and safety. The decision to create a dedicated role for health and safety within the design team, (rather than to leave the co-ordination role with the designers), was made in part because of the refusal of many designers to recognise their responsibility for health and safety in construction. This important step forward in the management arrangements for construction works now appears to be under threat. It would be foolhardy to change or reduce the role of the independent CDM Coordinator just as it is proving to be so effective.

It appears that the HSE would prefer an approach whereby the function of the CDM Co-ordinator is fulfilled by the Lead Designer in the pre-construction phase, and by the Principal Contractor in the construction phase.

If the role is performed by the Lead Designer a conflict of interest is apparent, and the requirements of CDM are likely to be suppressed due to the influence of other factors such as aesthetics, BREEAM, planning, programme, cost, relationship with the client, etc., resulting in issues such as buildability and on-going maintenance considerations being marginalised. Impractical features of the design should be brought to light by an independent member of the design team: the CDM Co-ordinator. The lead designer simply has too many other things to think about, and safety is too important a factor to be amalgamated into other roles.

With respect to the construction phase the HSE appear to be failing to recognise that the design often continues to be developed throughout the construction phase. Without a CDM Co-ordinator engaged throughout the construction process, design changes can occur that have a direct impact on the health and safety of operatives on site and the personnel that will maintain, extend or refurbish the building sometime after initial completion. A simple example would be that the architect decides to relocate a piece of plant onto the roof to increase the usable space inside, without considering how access will be provided. The Principal Contractor's primary role should include the planning and day-to-day management of safety on site, and not the responsibility for ensuring the safe co-ordination of design of the building.

The CDM Co-ordinator role should be independent of other disciplines and they should be involved from the outset of the design process right through to the handover of the H&S File.

Bureaucracy

A significant area of concern within the construction industry is the level of bureaucracy particularly with respect to competence assessments of all members of the design team as well as of the principal contractor. This is seen as one of the major failing of the existing regulations and competence is an area of the TMCS that is seen as being "gold plated". However competence together with adequate resources of the entire team has a significant bearing on safe construction and future maintenance of every building.

The SSIP scheme has gone some way to simplifying the competency assessment and thus the amount of bureaucracy . Many contractors have already signed up, eliminating the necessity for them to fill out questionnaires for every project. It is also allows CDM Co-ordinators to focus on the contractors and designers experience with similar projects rather than carrying out a full assessment. The introduction of a single, co-ordinated, government backed scheme would eliminate the plethora of different schemes and would simplify and clarify the requirements for competence. Perhaps the requirements for membership of "Constructionline" could be enhanced thus providing a "one stop shop" for confirming competence.

Other paperwork could be streamlined and made more proportionate to the level of risk and complexity of a project. In terms of Pre-Construction Information documentation and Construction Phase Health and Safety Plan, many of these are poorly prepared and include irrelevant documentation. Any new regulations should strive to focus on the key project risks and reduce unnecessary generic information. The inclusion of irrelevant information often distracts contractors from the genuinely useful information and sometimes crucial reports and hazard identification information contained in both documents.

Conclusion

The timing of these changes is unfortunate when it is only recently that clients, designers and contractors have seriously engaged with CDM. It is important that any changes proposed by the HSE build on the successes of the existing legislation whilst remedying the perceived inadequacies, but as an industry we have worked hard to reduce the appalling rate of accidents in construction and we should not forget that the CDM Regulations have been an absolutely crucial part of this. We hope that during the consultation period common sense will prevail and the Government will not set the construction industry back 30 years in terms of the number of fatal and serious injuries. We owe it to the hardworking men and women working on construction sites to do all in our power to keep them from preventable and sometimes fatal accidents.

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CHARGES BY THE HEALTH AND SAFETY EXECUTIVE

10 October 2012 by Administrator

 

On 1st October 2012, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), commenced recovering their costs of investigating and dealing with breaches of health and safety regulations including the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.
Under the Health and Safety (Fees) Regulations 2012, those who break health and safety laws are liable for the recovery of the HSE's related costs, including: inspection, investigation and taking enforcement action.
Geoffrey Podger, HSE's Chief Executive, said:
"The most basic safety mistakes in the workplace can devastate lives and result in real costs to industry.
It is right that those who fail to meet their legal obligations should pay HSE's costs rather than the public purse having to do so.
Fee for Intervention provides a further incentive for businesses to manage health and safety effectively and to operate within the law. It should also help level the playing field between those who comply and those who don't".
Costs will be recovered where there has been a material breach of health and safety law. A material breach is where a business or organisation has broken the law and the inspector judges it serious enough to notify the duty holder in writing. This includes where an Improvement Notice or Prohibition Notice is issued by an HSE Inspector following a site visit. Duty holders include Clients, Designers, Contractors and CDM Co-ordinators.
The headline rate quoted by the HSE is £124 per hour for the time spent by an HSE Inspector. The following are the potential averaged costs for intervention activity as published by the HSE:
Inspection which results in a letter - £750
Inspection which results in Enforcement Notice - £1,500
Investigations - Ranging from £750 to several thousands of pounds to in extreme cases tens of thousands of pounds
For further advice or assistance contact the Membership Secretary on 0208 977 1105
On 1st October 2012, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), commenced recovering their costs of investigating and dealing with breaches of health and safety regulations including the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

On 1st October 2012, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), commenced recovering their costs of investigating and dealing with breaches of health and safety regulations including the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

Under the Health and Safety (Fees) Regulations 2012, those who break health and safety laws are liable for the recovery of the HSE's related costs, including: inspection, investigation and taking enforcement action.

Geoffrey Podger, HSE's Chief Executive, said:

"The most basic safety mistakes in the workplace can devastate lives and result in real costs to industry.

It is right that those who fail to meet their legal obligations should pay HSE's costs rather than the public purse having to do so.

Fee for Intervention provides a further incentive for businesses to manage health and safety effectively and to operate within the law. It should also help level the playing field between those who comply and those who don't".

Costs will be recovered where there has been a material breach of health and safety law. A material breach is where a business or organisation has broken the law and the inspector judges it serious enough to notify the duty holder in writing. This includes where an Improvement Notice or Prohibition Notice is issued by an HSE Inspector following a site visit. Duty holders include Clients, Designers, Contractors and CDM Co-ordinators.

The headline rate quoted by the HSE is £124 per hour for the time spent by an HSE Inspector. The following are the potential averaged costs for intervention activity as published by the HSE:

  • Inspection which results in a letter - £750
  • Inspection which results in Enforcement Notice - £1,500
  • Investigations - Ranging from £750 to several thousands of pounds to in extreme cases tens of thousands of pounds

For further advice or assistance contact the Membership Secretary on 0208 977 1105

On 1st October 2012, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), commenced recovering their costs of investigating and dealing with breaches of health and safety regulations including the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.



 

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Competence and Gas Safety

28 June 2012 by Administrator

Over the past two years we have been reviewing the safety of gas installations in new build and refurbishment projects. This was initiated in the light of some fatalities caused by CO poisoning as well as explosions. Of particular concern is the fact that there are some 50,000 gas fired boiler installations in new-build housing developments with concealed concentric push-fit flues that cannot be routinely inspected. The Health and Safety Executive have stated that the problems caused by the use of concealed flues arose as a result of "failures amongst designers, builders, boiler manufacturers and gas engineers". Over 1,200 installations that had been commissioned by Gas Safe Registered Engineers have been declared "immediately dangerous" on inspection.

Over 25 % of the at-risk gas fired boiler installations are in the rented sector and subject to annual inspection and the issue of a "landlord's gas safety certificate". Where the flue cannot be inspected because it is "boxed in" it should not be declared fit for purpose and given a certificate.

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 are applicable for all construction work including the installation, commissioning, maintenance, repair or removal of gas services which are normally fixed within or to a structure. Regulation 4 - Competence states:

No person on whom these Regulations place a duty shall -

a. Appoint or engage a CDM co-ordinator, designer, principal contractor or contractor unless he has taken reasonable steps to ensure that the person to be appointed or engaged is competent;

b. Accept such an appointment or engagement unless he is competent;

c. Arrange for or instruct a worker to carry out or manage a design or construction work unless the worker is-

1 competent, or
2 under the supervision of a competent person.

It would appear that in a number of cases someone in the chain of duty holders has failed to adhere to this regulation as clearly some of the finished installations are defective and potentially exceedingly dangerous. The designer certainly should have determined the most suitable flue and specified how and where it would be installed. The designer would probably have been an architect, but he would have almost certainly relied on a mechanical services engineer who should only have taken on the design responsibility if he was competent. The mechanical services engineer could well have relied on the heating engineer carrying out the installation. The mechanical services engineer might have presumed the heating engineer was competent if he was Corgi registered or a Registered Gas Engineer on the Gas Safe Register.

The Gas Safe Register is kept and managed by Capita on behalf of the Health and Safety Executive but it is only a register. In order to obtain registration applicants are required to have passed an accreditation examination and have had practical experience. The knowledge required to become registered with the Gas Safe Register is not extensive and does not cover all of the tasks that need to be undertaken with gas fired boiler installations. Some people are being registered having completed a "fast track" course with very limited practical experience. The level of competence obtained by practical experience is not the subject of individual assessment by examiners.

We are of the opinion that no duty holder should accept Gas Safe Registration as proof of competence of any heating engineer carrying out the installation, commissioning or maintenance of a gas boiler unless considerable further steps and enquiries are made to ensure that the firm or person is competent.

We believe that registration with the Gas Safe Register is too easily obtainable without comprehensive verification of experience and competence. The annual subscription payable to remain on the Gas Safe Register should cover for random checks to be carried out on installations, maintenance work or commissioning of gas fired boilers, including the associated flues, by the registered person.

"Fast track" courses are a very poor substitute for comprehensive craft training.

Edward Goddard
Director
Fellow of the Association for Project Safety
CDM Co-ordinator



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The Government are Shortsighted on the Effect of 20% VAT on Home Improvements and Repairs

11 May 2012 by Administrator

 

The Government would appear to be behaving irrationally in not reducing the VAT on home improvements, refurbishment and repairs to all domestic properties.

The extent of illegal trading in the building industry is increasing every year. The so called "black economy" involves many thousands of individuals and firms being paid in cash and not charging VAT at 20%. Each month we speak to many members from all parts of the UK and frequently we hear that they are being undercut by builders that offer to carry out work without the addition of VAT, subject only to them paying in cash. Many, but not all, of the "cash only" builders are from overseas; mostly from East Europe. A few would possibly have a turnover less than the VAT threshold for compulsory registration however with building material costs including VAT at 20% added to the labour costs most firms will have a turnover above the threshold. Then there is the question of income tax and national insurance contributions added to the possibility that some may be claiming job seekers allowance and other benefits.

From the customer's point of view it is very attractive to save one sixth of the costs by paying cash and evidence indicates that all classes of homeowners are taking advantage of the savings - at the taxpayers' expense!

The Government is being very shortsighted in continuing with its policy of requiring 20% VAT to be applied to repairs, extensions and maintenance work to both private and commercial properties. A reduction to 5% would answer most of the problems and would almost certainly increase the amount collected by HM Revenue and Customs. Legitimate builders would benefit as they would be able to compete with the "cash only" traders and the customers' temptation to conspire with the cash builder to defraud the Revenue would be reduced. It seems that reducing VAT on building work to 5% is a "win win" proposition for the Government - if only they could see it!

 

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Required - A Budget for Business

08 March 2012 by Administrator

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has an opportunity to present a budget that will restore the UK's ability to compete with the rest of the world in manufacturing and the provision of services. In particular he has the opportunity to substantially reduce or eliminate a number of "on costs" created by successive UK governments that other governments of countries that we compete with do not burden their manufacturing or service providers with. Business rates, green taxes, excessive National Insurance contributions, road fund licences and excessive tax on motor fuel are some examples. Depending on the product or service being provided these "on costs" could amount to 30% of the export selling price.

Business rates should be eliminated on all business premises under 2000 square meters and reduced by 50% on all other premises. "Green tax" on the supply of power (gas and electricity) for businesses should be eliminated. National Insurance contributions by employers should be substantially reduced for persons over the age of 25 and eliminated on persons under the age of 25. This would go a long way in encouraging businesses to take on more staff and help reduce youth unemployment. Road fund licences on commercial vehicles should be substantially reduced and motor fuel tax should be reduced by at least 15%. Transport and delivery costs in the UK are considerably higher than in most other countries particularly the US and the far east. By taking this dramatic action the UK would once again be able to compete with the rest of the world on a more level playing field. Our exports would rise, our imports would reduce and unemployment would fall rapidly, particularly for young persons.

The "books" could be balanced by increases in corporation tax and further substantial reductions in benefits; particularly excessively high housing benefit and the elimination of child benefit after the third child. Benefits should not be available to anyone who has not contributed to the tax system for a minimum period of five years. This would discourage "financial migrants". Further savings should be made by reducing overseas aid, simplifying the tax system and leaving the European Union.

Another boost to businesses would be the removal from office of the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and President of the Board of Trade, Dr Vincent Cable MP. Some of his proposals are offensive to a large number of people working hard to survive in business and his replacement with someone more in tune with the business community would be very welcome.

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