Overview of Duties
Construction work is particularly prone to risks of injuries and fatalities. The general obligations applicable to employers, apply in construction. In addition, specific regulations relating to such matters as equipment handling, working at height, confined spaces, electricity, asbestos, etc. may apply in particular contexts.
In 1995, EU Regulations were introduced which placed obligations on participants at various levels in the procurement, design and construction process. There are obligations on designers, clients, contractors, employees and others.
There is an obligation to maintain a health and safety file. There are obligations to notify the HSA in respect of construction projects exceeding a certain number of working days (aggregating all employees). The rules were updated in 2006 and again in 2013. The current regulations are the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations 2013 (S.I. No. 291 of 2013)
Overview of Duties II
The developer or commissioner of the works must appoint a supervisor for the design phase and a supervisor for the construction phase. They must be reasonably satisfied that they have the competence to undertake the requisite tasks. The client must be satisfied as to the resources of the persons appointed.
A designer of a construction project must insofar as reasonably practicable, design it so that it can be constructed in a manner that is safe and without risk to health. It must be designed so that it can be maintained safely and without risk to health and comply with appropriate statutory obligations.
The contractor who constructs must ensure as far as reasonably practicable, that construction is undertaken in a manner that is safe and without risk to health and complies with all with requisite statutory requirements.
The construction regulations apply to works of a building, civil or engineering nature. This includes construction, alteration, conversion, fitting out, commissioning, repair, decommissioning of a structure, removal of a structure and the fabrication of elements connecting with the structure.
Construction work includes maintenance, cleaning and redecoration. Also included are window cleaning, painting and decorating, the removal of fixtures and demolition.
The regulations apply to preparatory site works and site investigation. They also apply to works to certain fixed elements of the structure, including electrical, gas, telecommunication systems. A structure includes not only building, but also civil engineering type works in respect of harbours, railways, bridges, sewers, gasworks, roads, pylons and towers.
A person who commissions a construction project must employ a competent person to ensure that in so far as practicable, that the project is designed and is capable of being constructed safely and without risk to health. It must be capable of being maintained safely without risk to health and must comply with the relevant statutory provisions
The project supervisor for the design stage must prepare a preliminary health and safety plan, taking account of the general obligations and the particular risks that arise. The preliminary safe plan must include details of the project, information on working activities, identification of particular risks to health and safety and conclusions drawn, taking account of general principles.
The commissioner of the works must appoint a supervisor for the construction phase. He must be reasonably satisfied that they have the competence to undertake the requisite tasks. He must be satisfied as to the resources of the persons appointed.
The project supervisor for the construction stage must develop the plan further, before the commencement of construction work. Adjustments must be made as necessary to take account of the progress. Specific measures must be included in relation to particular risks. The plan should include rules for the execution of the construction work which are required to protect health, safety and welfare.
The Health, Safety and Welfare (Construction) Regulations 2013 updated health and safety regulations in construction. It broadened the previous definition of engineering works to include engineering construction work. The criteria for an appointment were amended to remove certain smaller works from the requirement for a project supervisor.
Clients in domestic dwelling projects do not have to supply a health and safety plan for tendering. In these cases, there are duties on project supervisors, designers and contractors to demonstrate to the clients that they are competent to do the work. There are duties on designers and contractors to inform their client of their duties. There is a reduction of the administrative burden in relation to record keeping and the provision of relevant part of the safety statement.
Clients must ensure that they appoint competent persons to do construction work. They must appoint project supervisors, for projects that involve more than one contractor, involve particular risks or which are planned to last more than 30 days. They must keep a safety file as appropriate. This is to be provided by the project supervisor at the end of the project. They must inform the Health, Safety and Welfare Authority, if the project is going to last more than 30 days or if more than 500 person days are involved.
Particular risks for the above purpose include
- risks in relation to work that puts the person at risk of falling from a height where the risk is aggravated by other factors (such as, for example, restricted access to a roof for example);
- burial under earth fall where the risk is aggravated by other factors such as deep excavations and poor soil conditions;
- work near high voltage power lines;
- work exposing a person to the risk of drowning;
- work involving setting up or taking down of heavy parts, including precast floors or assembly of steel beams
- work involving asbestos.
The above risks are not comprehensive, and other particular risks may arise.
Contractors must keep the records, reports and certificates required by the regulations. They must be kept on the site where they are relevant. Where there are no “relevant works” as defined being undertaken on the site, they must be kept at the appropriate office of the contractor or owner of plant or equipment as the case may be.
Where a contractor has reasonable grounds for believing that the work will be completed in the period of fewer than 30 days the records, reports and certificates may be kept at the appropriate office of the contractor, in lieu of being kept at the site. The records must be available for inspection.
Client Duties I
A client shall not appoint a person as a project supervisor for the design stage unless he is reasonably satisfied that the person has allocated or will allocate, adequate resources to enable the person to perform the duty. The same applies to the project supervisor for the construction stage.
The client shall keep available the safety file information delivered to it, for inspection by persons who may need information in the file for the purpose of compliance with their duties or for that person’s own information in carrying out construction work on the structure to which the safety file relates.
It is sufficient compliance by the client and every subsequent owner of a structure, who disposes of that property if the client or subsequent owner delivers the safety file for that structure, to the person who acquires the interest.
Client Duties II
A client shall cooperate with the project supervisor for the design phase and the project supervisor for the construction phase as appropriate, including in relation to the time required for completion of the project and by providing information to enable the supervisor to comply with the regulations.
A client shall provide or arrange to have provided, a copy of the safety and health plan to every person being considered for the role of project supervisor for the construction phase or tendering for that role.
The above provision does not apply in the case of construction work to a domestic dwelling and where the work is not undertaken in pursuance of a trade or business. In the case of domestic dwellings, the client shall provide or arrange to provide a copy of the safety and health plan to the project supervisor for the construction stage, when appointed.
A safety plan is required where the work will last longer than 30 working days or will exceed 500 person days, or where the work involves particular risks including the following, falling from heights, burial, chemical, biological substances, drowning, earthworks, explosives.
The safety plan must be in writing and must be drawn to the attention of all contractors and other relevant persons. It should deal with organisational and risk management measures. It is an operations and maintenance file. Upon completion of the project, the safety file must be delivered to the client.
The design phase project supervisor retains the file throughout. He is responsible for it during the project. The file must be preserved for the purpose of use in subsequent construction work, after completion of the project for the use of persons who will require it in the future.
Design Stage I
The project supervisor for the design phase is a person who coordinates the design safety aspects of the project. He may be the client, designer or other person who is competent to do so. The project supervisor for the construction stage is the person who coordinates the construction safety aspects of the project. He may be the client, the main contractor or another competent contractor. The design and construction project supervisors may be the same person.
The project supervisor for the design phase shall take account of the general principles of prevention during the various stages of design and preparation of the project. He is to take account of any health and safety plan or safety file. It should organise and ensure coordination of activities by designers in relation to health, safety and welfare of persons involved in the construction work. He may appoint a health and safety co-ordinator for the design phase.
Design Stage II
The project supervisor for the design stage is to prepare on a preliminary basis a written safety and health plan specifying the general nature of the project, appropriate information on work activities, work which involves particular risks, the basis on which design is established and the conclusions were drawn by designer taking account of general principles of prevention and health and safety plan. He is to consider the location of utilities in order to afford adequate welfare facilities.
The project supervisor for the design stage is to prepare a safety and health plan in time to enable it to be provided in compliance with the regulations to every person being considered for tendering for the role of project supervisor for the construction phase. He is to keep a copy of the safety and health plan available for inspection by an inspector during the duration of the project.
The project supervisor for the design process shall prepare a written safety file appropriate to the characteristics of the project, containing relevant safety and health information and promptly deliver the safety file to the client on completion of the project.
The project supervisor for the design process may give directions to each person who is a designer, contractor or other relevant persons who if carried out, will assist or enable compliance by the project supervisor. He shall confirm the directions in writing, including a time frame for execution, if the project supervisor considers that the person to whom the directions were given, has not carried out the directions.
If, in the opinion of the project supervisor for the design process, a designer, contractor or other relevant person has not carried out directions confirmed in writing, the project supervisor for the design process shall notify the HSA , the client and the person to whom the direction was given of the opinion of the project supervisor, and include with the notification a copy of the written confirmation and particulars of the response, if any, made by the designer, contractor or other relevant person to the directions. He is to ensure that each confirmation in writing of a direction and a copy of each associated notification to the Authority referred to is retained with the safety and health plan.
Duties of Designer I
In carrying out work related to the design for a particular project, the designer shall take account of general principles of prevention and the relevant safety plan and safety file prepared in accordance with the regulations. He shall provide in writing to the project supervisor for the design process, all relevant information necessary for the project supervisor to carry out his duties under the regulations.
The designer shall provide in writing to the project supervisor for the design process all relevant information necessary for the project supervisor to carry out the project supervisor’s duties under these Regulations. He shall co-operate with the project supervisor for the design process or the project supervisor for the construction stage, as appropriate, to enable that project supervisor to comply with the Regulations, co-operate with other designers, as appropriate, to enable them to comply with these Regulations in relation to the project, and comply with all directions from the project supervisor for the design process or the project supervisor for the construction stage, that are issued pursuant to the regulations.
Duties of Designer II
In carrying out work related to the design of a particular project, a designer shall promptly provide in writing to the project supervisor for the design process or for the construction stage, whichever is appropriate, all information
- about the project that is known to the designer regarding particular risks to the safety, health and welfare of persons at work,
- regarding the nature and scope of the project to the extent necessary to enable the project supervisor to comply with the Regulations
- about the project that is necessary for that project supervisor to prepare the safety file and that is known to that person and is necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safe construction of the design for the project.
If no project supervisor is known to the designer to have been appointed for the project, the designer shall provide the information to the appropriate contractor instead of to a project supervisor. If a designer is not aware of the appointment of a project supervisor for the design process, the designer shall promptly inform the client of the client’s duties.
References and Sources
Safety, Health and Welfare and at Work Law in Ireland 2nd Ed 2008 Byrne Ch 13
Safety & Health Acts Consolidated & Annotated 2013 Byrne
Health, Safety & Welfare Law in Ireland 2012 Kinsella Ch 5
Health & Safety: Law and practice 2007 Shannon
Health & Safety at Work 1998 Stranks Ch 14
Civil Liability for Industrial Accidents 1993 While
The Health and Safety Authority www.hsa.ie
Health and Safety Executive (UK) www.hse.gov.uk
Tolleys Health and safety at work, 2017 29th ed Bamber,
Corporate liability: work related deaths and criminal prosecutions 3rd ed. Forlin
Health and safety at work: European and comparative perspective Ales.
Health and Safety Law 5th Ed 2005 Stranks
Principles of Health and Safety at Work (8th ed) Holt, Allan St. John; Allen, Jim;
The Law of Health and Safety at Work 2014/15 (23rd ed) Moore, Rachel; Winter, Hazel;
Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005
Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations 2013 (S.I. No. 291 of 2013)