You may have heard about a pilot scheme recently launched, which involves the building control industry working with the HSE to improve health and safety compliance on small and medium sized building sites.
IMPROVED HEALTH & SAFETY COMPLIANCE
The scheme involves the Luton office of the HSE and building control bodies, both local authorities and approved inspectors, operating across Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire.
The scheme doesn’t really operate any differently to what we in building control do already, except where things have gone wrong. Where a building control surveyor spots a health and safety infringement, it is always brought to the attention of the builder or owner of the site. This is not just to protect ourselves but also others on the site. We do not make it our job to go looking, but to tell you the truth, there are some things you just can’t miss! If the infringement isn’t corrected - or our advice is just not heeded and the site remains a risk, the surveyor would normally inform the HSE.
Under this pilot scheme, the surveyor could report the matter to the HSE complete with photo’s enabling the HSE to carry out its own assessment and decide whether a site visit is required, or if there is enough evidence to carry out a desk-top prosecution. There will then be feedback mechanisms to the building control body confirming the HSE’s actions.
The statistics speak for themselves, whilst the HSE has just five inspectors at its Luton office, building control bodies have in excess of 300 staff visiting nearly 12,000 sites across the region every week. This significantly increases the odds in favour of catching persistent offenders.
To accompany this, building control bodies will be working with the HSE to provide joint training and distribute information to our customers on health and safety issues. If successful the scheme could be rolled out to other areas.
Some people feel that this could be seen as building control becoming ‘Big Brother’, but with the level of deaths and accidents on site still remaining uncomfortably high, I see it as the building control profession doing its bit to improve the industry we all work in.
I will let you know how we get on!
PART G, HYGIENE
My second piece of news is the recently issued consultation on a new Part G, Hygiene, which it is proposed to rename: ‘Sanitation, Hot Water Safety and Water Efficiency’ to reflect the revised scope of the Approved Document (AD).
The present AD G was last updated in 1992 although a number of non-technical amendments were made in 2000. Since 1992, plumbing and building practice has moved on, standards and legislation have changed and technology has developed. Both industry and the Government agree that the language and references need to be brought up to date, and that a number of other changes are required to reflect current Government policy.
It is proposed that in future, Part G will be split into seven different areas:
- G1 Cold Water Services
- G2 Water Efficiency
- G3 Hot Water Services
- G4 WCs and associated facilities
- G5 Bathrooms
- G6 Food Preparation Areas
- G7 Sanitary Appliances
For the first time, specific demands are made on water efficiency, bringing the regulations more into line with the Code for Sustainable Homes. The full consultation can be viewed on the CLG website but you will have to be quick to respond as the closing date is 5 August 2008. HSE’s actions.
- The building Control industry and HSE are to work together to improve H&S on small medium sites
- The HSE could carry out desktop prosecutions on those sites where no action is taken to improve obvious infringements
- Changes are proposed to Part G of the Building Regulations including measures to improve water efficiency.