Safety, Health & Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations 2013
Increased responsibilities and legal duties on homeowners.
The Safety, Health & Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations 2006 have been updated in accordance with an E.U. directive on Domestic Projects, primarily the appointment of Project Supervisors, and the Safety, Health & Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations 2013 came into effect on the 1st August 2013.
The main change in the 2006 Regulations is the inclusion of domestic homeowners in the definition of “client”. There are therefore now two types of clients.
1. Clients for construction work on private domestic dwellings.
2. Clients for construction work in furtherance of a trade, business or undertaking.
Different responsibilities are imposed on each type of client and anyone who carries out work on a domestic house for the purpose of rental or sale is considered to be a client for construction work in furtherance of a trade, business or undertaking.
As a result of the Regulations, clients (home owners) need to make the following statutory appointments.
1. Appoint a competent Project Supervisor Design Process (PSDP) in writing at or before the commencement of the design process.
2. Appoint a competent Project Supervisor Construction Stage (PSCS) in writing at or before commencement of the construction stage.
A PSDP and PSCS must be appointed if the following criteria apply:
1. If construction work is planned to last longer than 30 working days.
2. If the volume of work is scheduled to exceed 500 person days.
3. The work involves a particular risk.
4. More than one contractor is involved.
Project Supervisors, Designers or Contractors must now demonstrate to the Client that they are competent and have allocated or will allocate adequate resources to enable them to perform their duties imposed under the new Regulations or under any other relevant statutory provision.
The Regulations do not apply to DIY type work or non-paid occupational work.
Examples of construction projects that will be subject to Regulations would include:
1. Building a new house or extension.
2. Converting or modifying an attic.
3. Re-fitting or replacing kitchen or fitted units.
4. Roof works including re-slating or fitting solar panels or roof lights.
6. Drains, works/underpinning etc.
An important change from the 2006 Regulations is that there is now a requirement for a PSDP and PSCS.
MAIN IMPLICATIONS (per HSA “Guidance for Homeowners” document)
Anybody appointed to carry out design or construction work must be competent and there is a legal duty on these appointed persons to demonstrate to the householder (the client) that they are competent and have necessary resources etc. In case of sub-contractors the duty will fall on the main contractor.
2. Appoint Supervisors
The house owner (client) must appoint Project Supervisors if
(i) There is more than one contractor involved in the work or
(ii) There is a particular risk (work from a height, underground work, works near power lines, works involving assembly or dismantling of heavy prefabricated components).
(iii) The work is going to last more than 30 days (or 500 person days).
3. Keep Safety File
The file is produced by the Design Project Supervisor and should have necessary information for anybody carrying out future work on the structure. The file is given to the client at the end of the works and the client must keep the file and make it available to anybody carrying out future works.
4. Architect or Engineer etc.
In practical terms the home owner (client) will engage an Architect or Engineer to design construction work and a builder or main contractor to carry out the work. In this instance the Architect or Engineer will be appointed as Design Project Supervisor and the Builder as the Construction Project Supervisor.
5. Direct Labour
The regulations apply to the practice of building a house by direct labour i.e. the practice where a client decides not to engage a main builder and instead organises the different trade/ contractors to carry out the works himself/herself. The new Regulations require that a Project Supervisor oversees the co-ordination of the various Designers and Contractors to ensure co-operation so that the works can be carried out safely.
6. Duties of Project Supervisor for the Design Process (PSDP)
(i) Identify hazards
(ii) Communicate control measures or remaining risks to PSCS.
(iii) Ensure work of Designers is co-ordinated.
(iv) Organise co-operation between Designers.
(v) Prepare a written Safety & Health Plan for any project which will take them more than 500 person days or 30 working days or where there is a particular risk and deliver to the client prior to tender together with a Safety File.
(vi) Issue directions to Designers or Contractors or others.
7. Duties of Project Supervisor for the Construction Stage (PSCS)
(i) Co-ordination and implementation of Construction Regulations by Contractors and reporting of accidents to the HSA.
(ii) Organise co-operation between Contractors.
(iii) Notify HSA before construction work commences where it is likely to take more than 500 person days or 30 working days.
(iv) Provide information to the Site Safety Representative.
(v) Co-ordinate the checking of safe working procedures.
(vi) Co-ordinate arrangements to ensure Safe Pass cards etc.
(vii) Appoint a Safety Advisor where there are more than 100 on site.
(viii) Provide all necessary Safety File information to the PSDS.
(ix) Monitor compliance of Contractors on site and take corrective action where necessary.
(x) Issue where necessary directions to Designers or Contractors.
All of the foregoing can be viewed on the HSA’s website where they have provided guidance documents for home owners (clients) and contractors.
It is important to note that for straightforward jobs i.e. less than 30 working days or less than 500 person days the duty on the homeowner is merely to ensure that the contractor is competent. In the case of a contract exceeding 30 working days or 500 person days or where there is a “particular risk”, or two or more contractors, then the homeowner needs to appoint a PSDP and PSCS. The PSDP will be obliged to produce a Safety File which the homeowner retains and makes available to anyone carrying out work in the future.
Clearly these new additional costs will now be reflected in the rates charged by contractors and where homeowners appoint a competent person in the role of Project Supervisor Design Process it would normally involve an Architect or Engineer and again there is an added cost. The question is whether this cost forms part of fees under an Insurance Policy and I would suggest that it would fall under the category of “scope of works” or “supervisory fees necessarily incurred”.
Again from an insurance claim’s perspective, it would be interesting to see how those Insurers who exercise the option to reinstate (managed repair etc.) will deal with the matter as in essence the onus or duty is on the homeowner to appoint a Project Supervisor for the design stage (PSDP) and Project Supervisor for the construction stage (PSCS).
Alan FitzGerald, FCII., FCILA., FUEDI-ELAE