Changes In Construction Regulations Set To Cut Bureaucracy

Dale Potts
Faithful+Gould believe changes to the CDM regulations will place emphasis on employing specialist safety co-ordinators.

The consultancy, which is widely recognised for its expertise in health and safety management, says construction organisations need to track developments in the proposed Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2006 carefully and monitor progress following closure of the consultative process on 29 July 2005.

Colm Patton of Faithful+Gould explains: "Much has been learnt from the implementation of the CDM regulations. Whilst they have proved beneficial in many ways, there is widespread recognition that they can result in increased bureaucracy, have not recognised the influence clients wield, and can be perceived as complicated."

In essence the new regulations are intended to improve the management of risk by bringing together existing regulations, simplifying procedures, maximising flexibility to suit the myriad of contractual arrangements, strengthening co-ordination and communication and focusing on planning and management rather than paperwork.

The content of the draft Regulations is contained in the Consultative Document. In essence it is proposed that the CDM Regulations (1994/2000) and the Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations (1996) are revoked in full, with other relevant documentation being amended to bring it in line. This should assist greatly in simplifying compliance and substantially avoid the need for constant cross-referencing.

Among the key changes anticipated is greater client accountability and the requirement to appoint a safety co-ordinator before design work begins. If no appropriate safety appointment is made, the client will be deemed to have appointed himself. The current role of the Planning Supervisor is to be undertaken by this “Co-ordinator”. The Co-ordinator will advise and assist the client in undertaking the measures he needs to take to comply with the new regulations.

For all members of the construction team there will be a greater emphasis on getting the right information, to the right people, at the right time. For designers, the regulations should become clearer and less subjective. For contractors, the emphasis is likely to be on a greater focus on planning and management.

Notification of a project by the client to the HSE at the commencement of design will be required and the client will have to ensure that appropriate arrangements are made and maintained throughout the project. Requirements on clients will relate both to construction safety and maintenance for any property designed as a place of work.

Colm Patton commented: "With greater client liability, involvement of health and safety specialists from the outset will become increasingly critical. The need is to put in place the right people, procedures and policies and support these with proportionate auditing. This can be achieved through client resources or, where these are insufficient, through third party consultants. The good news is that including H&S specialists in discussions from feasibility stage onwards does not ultimately need to cost more. Health and safety should be an integral part of the design and, indeed, life cycle process and can bring overall bottom line benefits as well as preventing injury."

It is anticipated the new regulations will come into effect in October 2006, although this date is likely to be compromised if the regulations are to be complemented with an Approved Code of Practice.