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Watts Service Focus Bulletin - CDM

A recent review of case law (R v Swan Hunter Shipbuilders Ltd (1982) and R v Associated Octel Co Ltd (1996)) has shown that clients have duties under the CDM regulations that they may not be fully aware of when construction or refurbishment works are being undertaken in occupied premises.  This may also be the case where there is interaction between the works and client activities. As ever, ignorance is no defence in law and it is vital that clients are aware of their obligations and seek advice where necessary.

With the Health and Safety Executive now focusing its ongoing inspection regime on the refurbishment sector, and specifically work at height, there is an even greater need for adherence to best practice. In this special bulletin we highlight some of these aspects of on-site health and safety and provide a brief guide to the services Watts can offer to ensure clients are fully covered against any liability.

John Wrightson
Associate Director, Watts Group PLC

Watts Service Focus Bulletin - CDM

HSE to target safety record of clients and subcontractors

As part of its evaluation of the effectiveness of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is putting the health and safety record of clients and smaller contractors under the microscope.

CDM Lead HSE Main

The HSE has given tier one contractors a clean bill of health for the positive changes they have made in recent years to improve the safety of their sites and the employees who work on them. However, clients and smaller firms are now coming under scrutiny from the safety watchdog as part of a review of the CDM regulations.

Anthony Lees, head of the HSE Construction Policy Unit, said in May that he does not expect to see “significant changes” to the existing CDM regime (source: Construction News) but said it was clear that some construction firms were still not complying with the law. Despite major improvements made to safety over the last decade, the HSE is now aware that on-site monitoring must be ramped up to prevent continuing health and safety abuses.

The HSE is delighted that the industry’s safety record has changed for the better. However, whereas a decade ago 30% of deaths on site could be traced back to employers of less than 10 people, that figure rose to 65% last year. As a result, the supervisory body will be scrutinising the health and safety policies of clients and subcontractors to determine where and why unsafe practices are being adopted.

Speaking at the launch of a Capita Symonds/Transport for London CDM storage product in May, Lees said that historically the HSE has not prosecuted clients. Now their role will be analysed in greater depth and supply chains examined to determine where problems are occurring.

The Watts Bulletin is the technical companion to the Watts Pocket Handbook, the essential guide to property and construction, as used by professionals since 1983.

Watts Bulletin editor: Trevor Rushton.