Builders Blog

Health & Safety tips you should know about

17 May 2017 12:47

We all know how busy it gets on site and that sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day! We all let the less important things slip when we’re rushed off our feet but it’s important not to let issues like health and safety get left behind! The FMB has put together some top tips to help you stay safe.

  1. Don’t overload your vehicle

Vans are part and parcel of the kit for construction firms, but all too often companies break the law by overloading vehicles with equipment and supplies which could lead to a hefty fine and put lives at risk. Every vehicle on the road has a specific maximum axle and gross vehicle weight - this is usually found on a plate or sticker within the vehicle or in the driver handbook. Prevent your vehicle from becoming overloaded by knowing the weights of your vehicle and load, redistributing your load appropriately after any drop-offs and check your Gross Vehicle Weight before setting off. If you don’t own a weighbridge you’re permitted to drive to the nearest one available.

To find your nearest public weighbridge, visit Trading Standards office

  1. Eating healthily

A study by a money saving website found that over a third of workers in the UK have to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at work at least twice a week - making it difficult for workers to eat healthily. It can be difficult to prepare and store food on site so it’s important to find out beforehand what you’ll have access to in terms of preparing and storing food. Ideas such as bringing soup in a thermos, baking your own breakfast bars, preparing sandwiches (much healthier than pre-packed!) and having plenty of snacks such as unsalted nuts, raw vegetables, fruit and hard boiled eggs can all help prevent you from visiting the butty van!

  1. Wear sun cream

Did you know construction workers are six times as likely to develop skin cancer? It’s not enough to apply the factor 15 when the sun hits, you need to make sure your first application is before you go outside and then reapplied every two hours. Ensure you have a wide-brim hard hat and a bandana around your neck to provide further protection and prevent over heating

  1. The first aid box

Do you have a first aid box on site? Did you know that the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 requires all construction sites to have a first aid box with enough equipment to cope with the number of onsite workers? There must also be an appointed first aid person, and onsite details informing workers of the first aiders name and location.  The first aid box should contain a leaflet giving general guidance on first aid, individually wrapped sterile plasters, sterile eye pads, individually wrapped triangular bandages, safety pins, large and medium individually wrapped sterile wound dressings and disposable gloves.

  1. Staying safe online, not just on site

Despite ensuring security measures are in place to minimise burglary and machinery thefts on site, protecting against cyber-crime and online scams is often overlooked by building firms. Did you know 77,000 construction companies were targeted by online criminals in 2016? Four types of cyber-attacks that builders should be aware of are phishing, telephone fraud, man-in-the-middle account fraud and hacking. Visit the FMB Members Area of the website and watch the E-Learning on cyber-crime to ensure you’re aware.

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Keep your building team safe this summer

10 June 2016 14:17

The sun was shining in the UK this week, unfortunately today we’ve woken up to a bleak sky and wet weather. British weather varies daily but we do get the occasional bit of sunshine, so it’s important to make sure that you and your team are prepared to face the hottest days of summer.

1. Protect your skin. If you’re working outdoors this summer consider the sun’s ultra-violet rays to be a workplace hazard. Construction workers are 6 times as likely to develop skin cancer so ensure that your team knows their way around a bottle of sunscreen.

It’s not enough to apply some factor 15 when the sun hits, you need to make your first application before you go outside and reapply every two hours.  We recommend you bring some spray on factor 30 on site – it’s quicker, easier, and you don’t need to enlist a friend to help you rub it in.

2. Put your top on. Keeping your clothes on this summer will be a relief for your workmates and will provide you with greater protection from the sun.  A wide brim hard hat and a bandana around the neck will provide further protection and prevent over-heating.

3. Hydrate. Ensure there’s enough water available on site to keep workers hydrated throughout the day. Why not treat yourselves to and ice lolly in the afternoon too!

4. Avoid the sun in the hottest parts of the day. If it’s possible then try to schedule your work to avoid the hottest part of the day, or set up work in a shaded spot. However, with the weather changing every day this can be hard to arrange, so if you need to work through the heat then ensure that your workers are taking regular breaks in the shade.

5. Stay alert. Pay attention to how you’re feeling on a hot day – if you start to feel groggy then grab some water and take a bit of time out in the shade. 

6. Watch out for each other. If you see a worker pushing themselves too far instruct them to take some time to rehydrate and cool down in the shade. 

7. Be conscious of sunburn and heatstroke. If a member of your team is showing the following symptoms: flushing, confusion, headache, nausea, rapid breathing, faster heartbeat then they may be experiencing heat stroke. Attempt to cool them down with water and call the emergency services.

CDM One Year On

03 May 2016 12:55

One year on since its introduction, FMB members are being reminded about maintaining a firm grip on their health and safety obligations and in particular rules related to Construction Design Management (CDM) 2015.

Joanna Mulgrew, product director at HBXL is all too aware of non-compliance with the rules while many businesses are still unsure on whether or not they apply to them.

Here Joanna looks at who CDM 2015 applies to and possible implications for non-compliance.

“CDM 2015 came into force on 6 April 2015 bringing a raft of new measures designed to improve health and safety on site. But one of the main misconceptions was who the new regulations would apply to.

The fact is CDM 2015 applies to all and includes small to medium sized build firms.

It’s easy to think that for smaller build businesses the CDM rules don’t apply, but the reality is all build firms come under its jurisdiction.

Now that CDM 2015 has been in operation for 12 months means builders cannot plead innocence and that they didn’t know what the new regulations meant.

All FMB members have to make sure they are now fully up to speed or risk facing the scrutiny of the HSE, with possible fines, site shut down or even prosecution.

Non-compliance really is non-negotiable as first and foremost it places undue risk on staff and members of the public.”

A common misperception we regularly come across is whether maintenance work or smaller jobs need a Construction Phase Health & Safety Plan (CPH & SP). The reality is under CDM 2015 every construction project should have one but proportionate to the risks involved.

It means whether it’s the installation of a bathroom, replacing a boiler, plastering a room, building a porch or an extension, an appropriate CPH & SP will be needed.

The vast majority of builders would have done this and put in place new work methods and systems to make sure they were compliant. However everyone has had long enough to put in place suitable arrangements in order to comply and the HSE will not take ignorance as an excuse.

The latest data shows that in Jun / Jul 2015 Fee For Intervention invoices totalled £609,312 in the construction sector alone, so the need for compliance couldn’t be more plain.

For many, the introduction of CDM 2015 might seem like an irritating distraction but builders have a legal obligation to demonstrate that they take their responsibilities seriously.

Those worried about what looks like a minefield of rules and regulations can rest easy by making the most of tools which keeps them right up to date with all things related to health and safety.

This includes the latest version of our Health & Safety Xpert 2016 software which not only saves them time but money and the anxiety of whether they are compliant with the latest regulations and in particular the new CDM 2015.

Many smaller building firms thought the new regulations wouldn’t affect them but it’s imperative they take CDM seriously.

Builders definitely don’t want to put themselves at risk of hefty fines or in the worse-case scenario of a stint behind bars!”

For further information on HBXL’s Health & Safety Xpert 2016 please call 0117 916 7898 or visit

CDM regulations guidance - Working for domestic clients

13 April 2016 09:22

Q1. If I am working for a domestic client, when do I take on the client’s duties set out in Regulations 4 and 6 of CDM 2015?

A. If you are the only contractor working on the job you will be responsible for managing the project safely and, if it meets the notification threshold, for notifying the project to HSE.

If more than one contractor is working on the project, the contractor ‘in control’ of the project (the main contractor) will become the principal contractor. The principal contractor will also take on the client’s duties.

There may be times when a domestic client has agreed (in writing) with the principal designer (their architect or other designer) that the coordination and management of the project, and the client’s duties, will be taken on by the principal designer.  If no such agreement has been made, the principal contractor automatically takes on project management responsibilities, including the client’s duties.

Q2. If I am the only contractor or the principal contractor working on a job for a domestic client, do I have to take on the client’s duties in Regulations 4 and 6 of CDM 2015?

A. Yes. The law automatically transfers the client duties to the contractor or principal contractor, unless there is an architect or other designer involved with the job who has taken on the principal designer role and has agreed with the domestic client (in writing) to take on the client duties.

Q3. If I am the main contractor working on a job for a domestic client and there are going to be other contractors also working on the project, do I have to become the principal contractor?

A. Yes. The law automatically makes the contractor ‘in control’ of the construction phase the principal contractor.

Q4. If I am the principal contractor working on a job for a domestic client, do I have to take on the client’s duties?

A. Yes. The law automatically transfers the client duties to the principal contractor.  However, there may be times when a domestic client has agreed (in writing) with the principal designer (their architect or other designer) that the coordination and management of the project, and the client’s duties, will be taken on by the principal designer.  If no such agreement has been made, the principal contractor automatically takes on project management responsibilities, including the client’s duties.

Q5. What will I need to do to comply with the client duties automatically transferred to me from a domestic client?

A. If you are managing the health and safety risks of the job as a contractor or principal contractor you will probably be complying with the client duties.

You should also ask the domestic client for any available relevant information which will help you to manage the work safely, such as the presence of asbestos containing materials, and the location of gas and electrical services.

You will also need to notify the project to HSE if it meets the notification threshold.

Q6. Will this make any difference to the way the project is run?

A. If you are a competent contractor or principal contractor, and you:

  • have sensible arrangements for managing the project from the start;
  • select the right contractors with the skills, knowledge and experience for the work (remember: the right people for the right job);
  • set out the sequencing of the project;
  • ensure contractors are coordinated regarding time and task to prevent dangerous situations arising;
  • make relevant information available to those who need it when they need it (remember: the right information to the right people at the right time);

Then you will probably be doing what the law requires of you already.

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