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New legal responsibilities for building owners and facilities managers

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 came into force on April 6 2015.

If you own or manage a building you may now have greater responsibility for the health and safety actions of your contractors.  The regulations widen the people responsible for health and safety to include ‘clients’  If someone is carrying out construction work for you as a business – be you a developer or property manager, you are viewed by the regulations as a client and hence a ‘duty holder’

The term ‘construction work’ covers operational and maintenance projects for the first time.  

If you are having work done for your organisation you are accountable for the impact of your decisions on the health, safety and welfare in the project.  You are also liable for the performance of the people you appoint.  If there are a number of supplying organisations you appoint a principal designer and a principal contractor.  These relationships should be set out in writing as soon as possible, otherwise you may be liable for what these contractors do.

The principal designer should design the project to avoid risk and the principal contractor is responsible for executing the project so that risks on site are managed.

The key risks include

  • Working at heights
  • Collapse of excavations
  • Collapse of structures
  • Exposure to building dusts
  • Exposure to asbestos
  • Electricity and buried services
  • Site security and protection of the public

You will need to work with your designer and contractor in the planning stage and as work progresses.  Before work starts you will need to have a Construction Phase Plan from your main contractor which explains how health and safety will be managed.  At the end of the project you should receive a health and safety file which will help manage future health and safety.  It is probable that these additional responsibilities for designers and contractors will result in higher costs in order to deliver greater safety. 

Broadland Group can help particularly with asbestos surveys, project management and contractor supervision. As now, any intrusive works to a property constructed before the year 2000 should be preceded by a planned, properly scoped and scheduled asbestos Refurbishment Survey to identify any asbestos materials which might be disturbed by planned works.