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Changes to best practice guidance call on all firms

This week marks the end of the Health and Safety Executive’s consultation period on its proposal to replace the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

These placed a duty of care upon the designer and contractor in making construction work safe.

The client has an associated duty of care in respect of arrangements for managing projects. Designers will also have responsibilities under contract, common law duty of care and, if a member of an institution, a code of conduct.

To support designers, the concrete industry has published key guidance and initiatives to help clients, contractors and designers to meet their health and safety obligations when choosing concrete solutions.

Designer guidance

The guidance in Designing for Safer Concrete Structures - published by The Concrete Centre - focuses on the aspects of safe construction that are in the control of the designer and concentrates on occupational health and safety, providing background and examples of how designers can make a difference to a structure’s role in the built environment.

“Clients, contractors and designers should require the use of this code whenever precast flooring products form part of a package of works”

The guidance recommends a holistic view to design that looks at the whole-life of a structure and also the communication and interfaces between the parties involved, with information transfer and feedback and review steps essential for a well-planned, safely executed project.

The guidance provides useful design notes for managing people, processes and products to provide designs that are buildable, usable and maintainable, safely.

With regard to products, specific guidance has also been published by the precast concrete sector.

Recommended practice

HSE chairman Judith Hackitt launched the Precast Flooring Federations code of practice for safe installation.

It is recommended that clients, contractors and designers should require the use of this code whenever precast flooring products form part of a package of works.

PFF members are committed to the code and have agreed to mandatory site audits to demonstrate compliance.

All members of the UK Contractors Group have been provided the code to heighten awareness and it is available for free download.

“Main contractors should align their guidance with industry best practice and members of British Precast commit to adhering to delivery and installation best practice”

A similar code of practice for structural and architectural precast is currently being drafted.

The Concrete Pipeline Systems Association has made advances in ensuring safe offloading of its products and has helped develop a concrete pipe lifter to promote safe offloading.

Safe delivery of precast products in general is an important safety consideration; best practice guides have been developed in collaboration with logistics firms, builders’ merchants and the HSE.

Contractors take note

Main contractors in particular should align their guidance with industry best practice and members of British Precast commit to adhering to delivery and installation best practice.

In-situ concrete construction, has also implemented schemes to promote safety in construction processes.

The most notable changes in improving safer processes have arguably come through developments in proprietary formwork systems that have addressed issues of manual handling, integral edge protection and ease of use.

The concrete contractors group Construct has recently appointed an H&S manager to build on the work of members in developing guidance.

Clients, contractors and designers can look to Construct and its members for best practice in safe in-situ construction.

Andrew Minson is executive director at The Concrete Centre and British Precast

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