With most people in the industry counting down the days until the revised regulations are laid, made, and have come into force, it may be worth a look at what the HSE envisage in relation to potential health and safety improvements that might follow the removal of the present domestic client exemption.
Improvements in health and safety standards on the vast majority of domestic construction projects are not expected. In their Impact Assessment (IA) the HSE provide several reasons why they think that this is the case, and have also concluded that a change to their current policy of targeting commercial sites rather than domestic projects for enforcement visits is not necessary. The position appears to be that an HSE enforcement focus on domestic projects would lead to a lowering of standards in commercial projects, and in the industry overall as a ‘net effect’. Resourcing, including scheduling and data gathering difficulties, is also cited in the IA as reasons for not conducting checks to ensure the proposed new client duties are being observed, noting that there are only 130 inspectors nationally who could undertake such enforcement visits.
Whilst an improvement in health and safety outcomes as a result of the introduction of domestic client duties appears not to be on the cards, an increase in costs for domestic clients is. An estimated extra £83.8 million cost over 10 years (familiarisation with and discharge of duties) is anticipated in the IA. The HSE expect that this will be absorbed by homeowners where construction work such as (urgent) repairs to broken down heating systems, has to be undertaken, and by contractors and designers if they are not able to pass them on.
As 5 January 2015 is seen as the final date for the publication of the new regulations to allow the industry time to adjust prior to commencement, and as the country will be in the run up to a general election, could it be that ‘political dialogue’ is getting in the way? Knocking on homeowners’ doors and asking for support might indeed be a challenge following the introduction of legislation that is anticipated to do nothing else except to satisfy elements of a European Directive. Let’s wait and see.
For more information on specific construction training there are a range of courses dependent on your needs:
NEBOSH Construction Certificate,
Construction Design Management Courses including: Revised 2015 CDM Regulations Update
Role of CDM Coordinator