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DESIGNERS AVOID HSE ENFORCEMENT UNDER CDM 2015

HSE find Designers and Principal Designers complying with CDM 2015?

Mike Webster of MPW R&R Ltd (provider of Consulting, Forensic Engineering & Expert Witness Services) has published the findings of his analysis of construction sector improvement and prohibition notice data from HSE online enforcement database.

The data indicates where HSE found took formal enforcement on construction projects in 2016/17, the first full year where CDM Regulation 2015 were in force. The MPW analysis reveals that in 2016/17:

  • Total Enforcement Notices – 3,1555 enforcement notices issued to construction sector duty holders;
  • Improvement – notices accounted for 1,362 of the total;
  • Prohibition – notices accounted for 1,793 of the total; and
  • Breaches – the notices identified 7,993 potential breaches of acts or regulations.

The potential breaches identified most frequently were of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (3,391).  The Work at Height Regulations 2005 followed with 1,790 potential breaches, whilst CDM 2015 had the third largest number of potential breaches with 1,669.

Comment – compliance or under the radar?

This comprehensive report by MPW shows that of the 1,669 potential breaches of CDM Regulations 2015 the Principal Contractor (489) and Contractor duties (278) were by far the most frequent cited in HSE enforcement notices.

There were 99 potential breaches of Client duties and only 5 potential breaches of Principal Designer (PD) duties and 2 of Designer duties.

Interpretation of these findings is not straightforward and could reflect a combination of the following regarding the HSE construction sector notices:

  • It may be that HSE Inspectors found widespread compliance by Designers and PDs during 2016/17;
  • The notices arise from visits to construction sites where HSE inspector focus is on the contractor and PC rather than designers and PD duties;
  • The HSE increase in planned and reactive interventions with designers PDs are not yet taking place as intended.

Few readers are likely to conclude that there is widespread full compliance with CDM 2015 Designer and PD duties.

The analysis is more likely to support the view of many contractors that HSE has yet to turn enforcement powers in the direction of designers and PDs and is continuing with the traditional and ‘easier’ enforcement focus in respect of the project contractors and PC.

A significant improvement in hazard avoidance and risk minimisation by pre-construction phase duty holders may require formal enforcement on the scale experienced by those with duties during the construction phase.

The CDM 2015 duties during both phases are symmetrical (see below). However, this analysis of HSE notices will to many readers suggest that HSE enforcement is at present one-sided and asymmetrical.

It would be interesting to hear the HSE response to this comprehensive presentation of HSE’s own construction sector enforcement data.

 

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