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Builders Health and Safety in 5 easy steps

1. What you need to do


Do you undertake work on private dwellings or smaller business projects? 

Private dwellings -including extensions, repairs and refurbishments. As a sole trader/ business owner you are responsible for the health and safety on site; 

Smaller business projects would include minor repairs and refurbishment work for businesses (fewer than 30 days of construction work) where site safety responsibilities are shared between you, the builder and the client.

The law states that sole trader or SME builders should:

Manage Risks- It is essential to plan, monitor and manage risks on site to ensure that all work is carried out safely and without risk to public or people working on site.

Train your workforce- Inform them of any changes in the law. Ensure all new & old staff receives regular training on site risks and rules at every site you work on.

Co-operate with your customers- Your clients also have legal duties to uphold and it is essential that they co-operate with all health and safety rules that you enforce on site. 

2. What you need to know

Tradesmen and those working on site must prove themselves competent to carry out work safely and correctly. It is important to stick to the remit that your experience dictates and do not accept work that you are not health and safety competent in. The majority of Construction Industry fatalities are usually on smaller building projects involving refurbishment of existing homes and workplaces. With at least 60% of deaths in construction involving falls from height such as ladders, roof lights and scaffolds and others including collapsing excavations, electrical accidents and mobile plant incidents; the importance of health and safety awareness has never been so prevalent.

Purchasing Builders insurance will ensure that you are covered whatever work you carry out. In the unfortunate instance that an accident does occur, you will not be left with a hefty legal battle on your hands, let your insurance company deal with any claims and protect your business.

3. Manage Risk

As a self-employed builder, you must be compliant with the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM) 2007. Requirements include:

Regular monitoring and management -monitor your work to ensure health and safety risks are controlled;

Set lead times –keep subcontractors informed about minimum time required to prepare and plan on site; 

Site access prevention –steps must be taken to ensure that unauthorised persons do not get access to site during and out of working hours; 

Sufficient welfare facilities –adequate welfare facilities must be in place for your workforce. 

4. Regular training will develop your workforce

It is essential to provide your workforce with relevant training and information to ensure that employees are armed with all the knowledge they need to be Health and Safety conscious. This could include:

Induction – when any employees start on site they should receive an induction to safety requirements of that particular site;

Risk Assessments and precautionary measurements– information should be given on risk assessments carried out and the necessary precautions that should be taken;

Rules of the site- What is required in case of emergency

5. Cooperate with your client

Cooperation is essential amongst all parties when any job starts. The co-operation of all is required to ensure that sites remain safe and injury is prevented.

SME Clients –will have safety requirements whether the project is one day or 6 months. Arrangements must be made to manage the risk and you should present risks and solutions to the client before the job starts in a best practice situation.

Home owners/private dwellings – the home owner is not accountable for preparing a safe workplace for you as a builder to work in. However, you as the builder and occupier have a common interest in making sure the building work does not put residents or employees at risk during the job. A joined up working approach will help achieve this objective.


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