in this article I want to talk about construction work safety and the responsibilities for homeowners in making sure that construction work is carried out safely in the home. These responsibilities are covered under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations 2013. I would also encourage tradesmen to read this article and to check out the checklist at the bottom of this article and in the HSA Guide. If you are a tradesman, try to ensure that you can answer ‘yes’ to the relevant questions in the checklist and that you carry a file with relevant certs and policies to support your claims.
For customers and homeowners, the regulations are there to ensure the safety of your family and the tradesmen who carry out the work in your home. The idea behind this is to make sure the work is done safely and that it does not put you or your family(or the people working in your home at risk of injury or death).
The regulations put the onus on you, the home owner to appoint competent people to carry out construction work. In addition to this, for riskier and or longer jobs you must appoint competent project supervisors to oversee and co-ordinate safety. The role of the project
supervisors is very important. They co-ordinate the work of designers and contractors and make sure that the work is completed safely.
Each year there are far too many injuries and fatalities related to construction work. The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations 2013 aim to reduce the number of people killed and injured while carrying out construction work in the home. There are specific requirements set out in European law for those who hire people to carry out construction work as well as for construction workers themselves. The Construction Regulations put these requirements into Irish law. To view the Regulations click here
The HSA has produced a very helpful ‘Guide for Homeowners’ which tries to simplify the regulations and make them easier to understand. This article is a summary of that guide. To view the HSA Guide itself click here.
What is Construction Work as covered under the legislation?
Not all work in the home is covered under this legislation. Examples of work that is covered includes the following:-
• building a new house or an extension, porch or garage,
• converting your attic,
• refitting your kitchen,
• re-slating your roof,
• fitting solar panels or a skylight, and
• re-wiring your house.
Examples of work not covered under the legislation includes the following items below. However, I would suggest that you always keep an eye out for risks in any type of work, even if not covered by the legislation:-
• routine home DIY,
• grass cutting,
• tree planting and general gardening work, and
• general maintenance to appliances, and boilers.
What do you have to do?
By law, you have to:
1. determine the competency of people doing paid construction work for you,
2. appoint project supervisors if required,
3. keep the safety file for the work as appropriate, and
4. let the Health and Safety Authority know if your project is going to take longer than 30 days or more than 500 person days.
Appoint project supervisors
You must appoint project supervisors if:
• there is more than one contractor involved in the work, or
• there is a particular risk (see below), or
• the work is going to last more than 30 days or more than 500 person days.
What is a particular risk?
The regulations list a range of works involving particular risks. A few examples are works that put people at risk from falling, from drowning, getting electrocuted, getting buried, having something heavy fall on them etc.
Common sense health and safety precautions
The guide give some excellent tips for common sense health and safety precautions as follows:-
• employ the right people for the work, designers and builders,
• discuss safety with your builder or designer before work starts,
• warn children of the dangers and make sure they stay away from the work,
• separate works from your home life (where you can), and
• make sure that the work area is secured at the end of each day by the contractor.
Summary of what you have to do
The infographic below is contained in the HSA Guide for Homeowners and gives a visual respresentation of what you need to do to comply with the health and safety regulations.
Checklist of Questions
According to the HSA guide, the following checklist of questions will help you determine if designers, contractors or project supervisors are competent to carry out the construction work you need done in your home. If they are, this will mean that in general they comply with legal requirements (We encourage you to ask these questions of tradesmen from Tradesmen.ie also, as you would from any other source:-)) :-
Are you competent to carry out this work?
Have you completed work like this before?
Have you and your staff received safety training or done any safety courses?
Does your company have a Safety Statement?
Can I have references for previous work or visit previous work that you have done?
Have the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) ever taken enforcement action against you or your company?
Other questions you could ask (not related to health and safety but helpful)
Have you a tax clearance certificate?
Have you insurance?
Questions for the Project Supervisor Design Process (PSDP) or Designer
Do you have a recognised qualification in design or architecture? (I would add engineer here also)
Are you a member of a professional body?
Questions for Project Supervisor Construction Stage (PSCS) or Contractor
Are you a member of an industry trade body?
Do your workers have SafePass training?
Are your workers professional tradespeople?
If you are a home owner, ask for documented proof for the answers to the above questions. If you are a tradesman, try to ensure that you can answer ‘yes’ to the relevant questions in the checklist and that you carry a file with relevant certs and policies to support your claims.
For home owners, we recommend that you hire a suitably qualified architect, building surveyor or building engineer from the outset if the job is anything to do with a new build, building renovation or extension. Any of these trade professionals will be familiar with the responsibilities and duties required in these building regulations and will be able to give you guidance.
If a job does not need the expertise of a trade professional and you are still not sure if these regulations apply to you, you can contact the HSA directly on Lo-call 1890-289-389.
As I said this is just a summary of the HSA ‘Guide for Homeowners’ document. Please ensure that you download and read the Guide before embarking on any construction project in your home.
I hope this helps any of you who are planning to do construction work in your home in the near future. In addition to this, if you have not yet decided on a contractor for your job you can post your job and get a number of quotes from rated tradesmen here
If you have any comments or questions, please don’t hesitate to post them below and we’ll be happy to answer them as soon as possible.
15th August 2015
Here are some other articles that you might be interested in below:-
A discussion on the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2013
Do I need Planning Permission?
Certifying my Building or Renovation
Construction Contracts, Why are they needed?
House Extension Tips
House Extension Cost Survey
Conservatory and Sunroom Prices
Attic Conversion Prices
New Build House Cost Survey
Top 10 Tips to Building a New Home