Proposed changes to the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007
The CDM Regulations 2007 were in themselves an attempt to clarify various problems which had been identified in the previous set of regulations, originally introduced in 1994. The regulations were very complex and there was a very bureaucratic flavour when it came to the expectations of the duty-holders and these problems were making the intention of improving health and safety in the construction industry hard to make fact. Although there were some improvements after 1994, the 2007 rewrite, which took place after a long consultation process, was considered to be a significant improvement, which the latest consultation aims to continue.
The construction industry is a dangerous sector in which to work
Statistically, the construction industry is one of the most dangerous for workers and although there have been many improvements over the years, it remains the cause of many more work related deaths and serious injuries than the number of workers would suggest, working purely from statistics. HSE’s Construction Chief Inspector Heather Bryant said recently, ‘The proposed changes are aimed at ensuring more people come home safe and well from their work and making the law simpler and clearer for employers to understand, particularly small businesses. The Regulations and supporting guidance need to help those working on building sites to get health and safety right. That’s why it is important that we get a good response to the consultation, helping us build on the great support we’ve had from the industry during the development of these proposals.’
The main shortcomings of the CDM Regulations 2007 are mainly that its hierarchy is very cumbersome and reporting and reacting to incidents is therefore slow. The aim of the changes is therefore to streamline the whole process, so that any problems flagged up will be dealt with more quickly, increasing the safety of the whole industry. The HSE (Health and Safety Executive) change regulations whenever a problem is identified and usually only after long and exhaustive consultations. Any changes are never set in stone, but can be revisited if they are seen to be inadequate or not serving the needs of the workers they are designed to protect. Training is an essential element in improving the safety record of any sector and although it is obviously very important that there is a proper overarching administration arm for any organisation, without training, it is useless.
Training courses for health and safety now come in many different combinations so it is not difficult for any construction site manager to make the right ones available to staff. Some are very specific and would only be necessary for those undertaking some very difficult jobs such as working in confined spaces or with hazardous substances. Others are more general and can be offered to staff who would not normally be directly involved – these health and safety courses raise awareness of health and safety issues and have been shown to be very effective in reducing accidents in the workplace.