Health and safety policies in the construction industry
All employers have a duty of care to protect their employees and others from harm arising from work activities. The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 states that all organisations should have a health and safety policy, and where they employ five or more people this must be a written policy.
The policy should cover all aspects of the organisation and be relevant to the employees. It is only required to address health and safety matters relating to employees, however, employers also have a duty to protect others from risks arising out of their work activities and so it is best practice to consider the safety of people whose health and safety might be affected by the organisation, such as volunteers, contractors, the general public and so on.
It is important that all employees are aware of, and understand the health and safety policy and have access to a copy of it. This means that it should be clear and easy to understand. In smaller organisations, it is possible to provide each individual with a copy. In a larger organisation, copies could be posted on notice boards or in other appropriate locations.
In the construction industry it is common to require that organisations submit their health and safety policy as part of the tender documentation when bidding for work. Where companies employ fewer than 5 people, they may be required to fill in a health and safety questionnaire.
- A statement setting out general policy on health and safety which details the commitment to effective management of health and safety and the overall aims.
- A responsibilities section which explains who is responsible for specific actions.
- An arrangements section which describes the methods that will be adopted to achieve the commitments made in the statement section. Information should also be included about how risks and hazards in the workplace will be eliminated or reduced. According to the Health and Safety Executive, a hazard is something that could cause harm to people such as electricity, chemicals and working at height. A risk is the chance (however large or small) that a hazard could cause harm.
It is vital that the policy is monitored and evaluated to ensure that it is still effective. Monitoring can be undertaken in many ways, for example by undertaking spot checks or safety inspections using checklists. In a more formal situation, audits and the review of management reports and accident investigations can be undertaken.
The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations place additional requirements on the construction industry, due to the risks that can be involved. Amongst other things, this involves preparing a specific construction phase plan which records arrangements for managing significant health and safety risks associated with the construction of the project. In addition, a health and safety file is required which gives details of health and safety risks that will have to be managed during maintenance, repairs, renovation and demolition.
See CDM for more information.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki.
- Building regulations.
- Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH).
- Deleterious materials.
- Environmental health.
- Fee for intervention.
- First aider.
- Health and safety.
- Health and safety consultant.
- Health and Safety Executive.
- Health and safety file.
- Health and safety inspector.
- Method statement.
- Near miss.
- Notification to HSE.
- Personal protective equipment.
- Pre-construction information.
- Principal designer.
- Principal contractor.
- Reporting accidents and injuries on construction sites.
- Risk assessment.
- Safety management.
- Site induction.
- Work at height regulations.
 External references
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