Health and safety – everyone’s favourite fun subject, right? Okay we get that it isn’t. But if you are a homeowner planning to have construction work carried out on your property, you should understand where the responsibilities lie.
Responsibilities as the homeowner
As a domestic client, you have responsibilities for health and safety on your home project under the Construction Design and Management Regulations 2015. The extent of your obligations depends on how the project will be set up and run and whom you appoint.
Appointing a Principal Designer
If you appoint a Principal Designer, such as an architect,
their responsibility is to manage, monitor and coordinate health and safety in the project’s pre-construction phase
. They will also liaise with the principal contractor, informing them of potential risks during the construction phase
“When you hire me, I take on the role of Principal Designer as part of our standard services on all but the largest projects. You should check that your appointed designer is doing the same. – Carl”
Appointing a Principal Contractor
For most but not all domestic builds, you will appoint a builder
to undertake work for you. If you appoint a single Principal Contractor or builder, then the responsibilities for health & safety transfer to them. This includes:
- ensuring that any subcontractors they appoint have the skills, knowledge and experience to carry out their work safely. For example carpenters and electricians.
- minimising risks to everyone concerned.
In many cases, where your builder has planned and designed the project, your principal contractor and principal designer be the same person. Therefore health and safety responsibility lies with them.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
In their leaflet for clients
, the government’s Health and Safety Executive states that: ‘although you are not expected to actively manage or supervise the work yourself, you have a big influence over the way the work is carried out.’
Effectively, this means you can be a force for good while builders are on your property. Discuss how elements of the project will be carried out, ask questions and, if you have any concerns, raise them. It will help ensure a smooth, problem-free process.
Informing the HSE
If your work is scheduled to last longer than 30 working days AND use more than 20 workers simultaneously, OR if the work exceeds 500 person
-days, you must notify the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) before commencing construction. Small projects are unlikely to require this.
If you are carrying out work as a DIY project, then none of the above applies to you.