award logo
Old Woodhouses

Whitchurch, Shropshire, SY13 4AG

09:00 - 17:00

Monday to Friday

01948 871373


December 3, 2018

Emergency Planning & Preparedness

Part Two

Emergency Planning, this is the Emergency Services isn’t it?

Unfortunately, this is not the case, the duty firmly sits with the employer. Whilst a call to 999 would arguably be a good choice for the additional level of medical support that Paramedics can offer, the same cannot be said for our Fire-Fighting heroes. Their training is based around exactly that, Fire-fighting, accessing rooftops, towers, cranes, steelwork, and burrowing the depths of a sewer along with the other numerous weird and wonderful high-risk activities carried out every day.

Before making any assumptions, it may be worth a call to any local Fire Service or any specialised local ‘Hazardous Response Teams’ for rescue support. The outcome of which may very well be a visit to your site to assess and understand your requirements, in-line with skills, equipment and responses they could provide. Some clients do have agreements in place via a ‘paid and retained’ service level agreement. More often than not our emergency services are under pressure to satisfy the demand of their day-to-day business before making any commitment to us, so do not be surprised if the call results in a polite and frequent ‘no’.

When developing an effective Emergency Plan, we should consider;

  • The obvious first, an assessment of who, where, what and when?
  • The location (remote nature/terrain/access)?
  • Effective communication methods between workers and emergency services and the co-ordination in the event of such an emergency?
  • Any specific risks posed to the Rescue Team?
  • Suitability and location of the rescue equipment
  • The likely medical condition of the worker(s) ‘suspended in a harness’ suffering the on-set of Suspension Syn-cope or one that is collapsed unconscious?
  • Level of medical provision and supplies available to you on-site and off-site?
  • Off-site response times for medical professionals and likely arrival time
  • The ‘right people’. Too many individuals are sent on WaH and CS training courses without thought, consideration and understanding of one’s abilities both physically and mentally to carry out any such rescue. Human behaviour, when faced with a pressurised and dangerous situation can focus some, whilst all rationale goes ‘out of the window’, followed by panic in others.

For those in the Scaffolding industry, further guidance is available under SG19:17 of National Access & Scaffolding Confederation ‘Formulating a Rescue Plan’.

Those operating a Motorised Elevated Work Platform (MEWP) then further help and guidance can be found in and IPAF Guidance on emergency rescue.

For all other work at height related activities then the above information should be considered towards an ‘effective plan’ to satisfy the WaH Regulations of 2005 (as amended).

 “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”― Benjamin Franklin

As we are planning for success here and as a matter of course, the suitable and sufficient risk assessment is prepared initially. As the works will have significant residual risks a Safe System or Work (SSoW), or Safe Operating, Safe Maintenance Procedures will be followed. A Permit to Work System may also be considered given the ‘high-risk nature’ of the work being undertaken.

So the SSoW captures all of the residual risks and is a fundamental part of the Emergency Plan. The other KEY elements to the plan should be information (appropriate medium), instruction (show, tell, discuss), training (on or off site but not ‘on the job’), more training and of course all done with the right people and right equipment.

After all the planning, investment in people and equipment, what happens next? well hopefully nothing, by this I mean more “without incident”.

What is the lesson learnt here? We simply have a plan: a theoretical plan.

Here are some of the typical examples of what can be expected for failing to plan effectively;

An effective emergency plan assures all concerned, that’s everyone in the business.

Most companies usually empty their buildings once or twice a year with the business assets stood on the car park attending a Fire Drill. Smart businesses learn and strengthen their policy and/or procedure by doing this frequently, but how many Emergency Drill’s does your business plan for each year?

More often than not the answer is ‘we don’t’ which is quite remarkable given the planning, investment, probable outcome to those and their families, the repercussions left for those lucky enough to be alive and ‘we don’t know if the plan actually works!’

The initial capital investment is the first part of the overall strategic plan that requires maintenance. In fact, maintenance is exactly what it is ‘maintaining a finely tuned rescue machine’.

For those who made the huge step forward to legal compliance and investment, some worthy questions should now be asked;

  • Is refresher training/practice drills being planned and carried out to avoid skill fade and build confidence of those required to deliver come the hour?
  • Is the plan an effective one that covers all elements and ‘fit for purpose for OUR business’?
  • Has the plan been tested?
  • Was the plan developed internally and supported externally and independently through ‘another pair of eyes’?

If the answer is NO to any of the above or ‘we do not have an emergency plan’ then a call to us here at Safety for Design for an initial chat could be a good investment of time.

We can work with our clients in any capacity in advisory, consultative, project or ad-hoc basis to ensure legal compliance. With Deryl’s background in instructing, advising and working with clients in all aspects that involves Work at Height and Confined Spaces we can provide sound independent and practical advice, solutions, audits, emergency drills and document reviews to our customers ensuring they are legally compliant and the peace of mind the ‘investments’ were just that.

Deryl Smith

Other work from the same author:

September 28, 2018

Emergency Planning & Preparedness

Part One

If your business requires workers to access or carry out work at height or enter a confined space, then you will be already aware of the statutory duties owed and an appropriate emergency plan in place as defined in the following legislation:

  • Work at Height Regulations 2005 Regulation 4 states ‘Organisation and Planning’
  • Confined Space Regulations 1997 Regulation 5 records ‘Emergency arrangements’

Most of us are aware of the fact that Work at Height remains the number one cause of fatalities year on year as the HSE statistics. With the construction industry being the highest risk and with more fatalities.

Putting legal compliance aside, we also have a moral duty to protect our people in-line with what our society also expects. We then have the sweat, tears, hard work and investment that built the business over the years to be potentially left in jeopardy because we failed to plan or test the ‘effectiveness’ of the emergency plan was not considered, denial or naivety that any such unfortunate event could possibly happen to your business.

Lastly, no company ever wants a friendly enforcement officer issuing prohibition notices, carrying out an investigation and charging you fees for intervention. After the reality of the unforeseen event there is the impact on morale and the trip to court or which comes with unwanted but free publicity that our suppliers, clients and partners get to read about. Lastly, we can start to add up the insured and un-insured costs.

Deryl Smith

August 28, 2018

Building A Positive Safety Culture

Culture change in an organization of any size is not a simple process. When it comes to workplace culture, many elements contribute to creating and sustaining a strong culture of safety. There are four distinct building blocks that create a foundation on which a more effective safety culture can be built.

1. Using the right performance indicators

How safety is measured can fundamentally change how safety is managed, and how safety is managed is a primary contributor to an organization’s safety culture. In companies with strong safety cultures, safety is embedded in daily management; it is part of the fabric of daily activity.

Unfortunately, in many organisations, managers only attend to safety during safety meetings, audits and reactively, when there is an incident. Managers attend to what they are measured on because those measures are associated with consequences (positive and negative).

Too many organisations still measure safety mainly via incident rates, which tell us how many people got hurt and how badly, but they are not good measures of what leaders are doing to prevent accidents and incidents.

Incident rates can get better or worse with absolutely no change in safety conditions or behaviours. The result is that organisations can go for long periods of time without accidents, despite having an unsafe work environment. When the incident rate is low, most assume all is well with safety and focus on other priorities.

So, one important step to building an effective safety culture is to change the way safety is measured. While incident rates are a necessary metric, they should be part of many. The majority of measures should focus on proactive behaviours on the part of all employees – measures that track what people are doing to prevent accidents: this ensures that safety is attended to all the time, not just when there are incidents.

2. Avoiding blame culture with forward looking accountability

Accountability is essential in all aspects of business, but particularly for safety. Unfortunately, accountability is too often thought of as synonymous with blame and negative consequences.

Backward-looking accountability is about assigning blame; finding the individual who made the mistake and delivering punishment. While sometimes this is the right thing to do, there are many downsides to such action. Blaming and punishment very rarely results in a safer workplace.

Forward-looking accountability acknowledges the mistake and any harm it caused, but, more importantly, it identifies changes that need to be made, and assigns responsibility for making those changes. The accountability is focused around making changes – building safe habits and a safe physical environment – that will prevent a recurrence, and not on punishing those who made the mistake.

Effective safety cultures accept that mistakes are an inevitable part of the workplace, but are relentless about learning from those mistakes.

3. Building good relationships between all levels

Relationships matter a lot in safety. Great safety cultures are characterized by good relationships at all levels, which enable open, honest conversations about what is working, what is not, mistakes that have been made and what needs to change. As noted above, mistakes are great opportunities to learn, but workers must trust that if they tell management what really is going on, management won’t overreact. This trust is most likely found in the context of good working relationships.

Many leadership behaviours contribute to creating good relationships.

Having a good relationship doesn’t mean being nice all the time or being soft on safety. Good relationships include accountability and constructive feedback. Positive employee-management relationships include mutual trust and respect as a foundation for a partnership around safety.

4. Positive reinforcement

A high standard of safety requires that people don’t just follow procedures and wear PPE. Exceptional safety happens when people look for and report hazards, give peers feedback on safe and at-risk behaviour, make suggestions for improvement and, most difficult of all, admit when they have made mistakes, so lessons can be learned.

This extra employee effort is created using positive reinforcement. When people are recognized for what they do well in relation to safety and when reporting concerns is met with reinforcing consequences, employees will be more engaged in safety.

Rather than an incentive system, these goals can be achieved using positive reinforcement. This approach ensures accidents are reduced for the right reasons – because people are working safely – and helps capture the extra effort that is essential for a positive safety culture.

These four drivers are largely the work of management. Management should build the foundation for a positive safety culture. Once the foundation has been built, the frontline workforce will increase its contribution. It is through this joint effort that organisations can create and sustain a safety culture that works.


Other work from the same author:

July 17, 2018

Environmental Impacts of Construction Projects

Often the environment is the invisible victim of a construction project and damage can be hidden, costly and have lasting consequences. We see this, with increasing frequency, now when we are dealing with contaminated land and historical pollution from the post war construction heyday. So, what can we do to prevent this happening now and in the future?

At every stage of a construction project there are effects on the environment which can be measured and when it can be measured we can aim to reduce the effects of our project.

The concept and design stage

Think about how energy is used in our design and the type of energy that will be used, the types of materials – non-renewable and renewable – where the materials come from and the transportation of the materials, waste management and disposal, the ecology and landscape of the project. Is your project resilient, flexible and adaptable to climate change?

Construction Stage

Energy use on site, transport of workers and materials, having a waste management plan with clear routes for waste elimination, reduction, reuse and disposal, reducing nuisance dust and noise and protecting water courses and drainage from pollution.

Operations and maintenance stage

Consider how the project will use resources when it is complete and operational – energy management, water management, resources management and waste management. Can it be maintained safely and efficiently?

De-commissioning stage

When considering the end of your project’s useful life, can it be dismantled and demolished in a way that does not damage the environment? Can components be re-used, recycled or re-sold? Can the landscape and ecology be returned to it’s original condition? What hazards will remain and how will they be managed?

De-commissioning stage

Unlike Health and Safety, damage to the environment is not tangible or personal like a cut finger, a fractured leg or damaged equipment. The damage might not seem to affect us personally, but it does affect our legacy, our future and our children’s future.


June 4, 2018

Safety At The Taj Mahal

1000 Elephants

Many know of the beautiful and heart-warming story of love behind the Taj Mahal – built by Emperor Shah Jahan in loving memory of his wife Mumtaz, this marvel has lured millions of visitors over the years but how many of us knew that there were so many design secrets and considerations.
You may have heard that it was designed to be perfectly symmetrical in every way, you may also have learnt that there 28 different varieties of stone brought from different parts of Asia. It is said that over 1000 elephants were used to transport materials with around 22,000 people taking 22 years to complete this outstanding structure…

Four Pillars


How many knew that the four pillars were designed and constructed to lean away from the main monument so that in the event of any natural calamities such as earthquakes, they would crumble and fall away and therefore leave the main structure untouched.

Marble and Pulleys

When construction began in 1631, the role of Principal Designer was not yet developed, however some of the principles behind it were clearly considered with the surrounding environment and known earthquakes affecting the design, interestingly though, we wonder whether the materials used were thought through – with great amounts of marble brought in and pulley systems said to be created and used to install the sections.

Choosing the right people

So, to all those Romeo’s out there, before you set your mind on building your beloved partner a palace, ensure you have a competent Principal Designer appointed.

Contact Safety For Design Ltd.


Other work from the same author:

April 5, 2018

Fire Prevention In Refurbishment Activities

HSG 168 Fire Safety in Construction supports those with legal responsibilities under Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM15) and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO), and assists site managers in the day-to-day management of fire risks on site.

As the Client your project could involve major refurbishment and as such a Fire Strategy may be appropriate. The Fire Strategy will detail the type of fire safety facilities that are currently incorporated within the building, along with their respective specifications, and depending upon the brief for the Fire Strategy consider the phases of the project and how FIRE as a risk can be eliminated, reduced or controlled through design. CDM15 – Regulation 9(3) & 9(4) covers the process of Design Risk Management (DRM). Planning of the refurbishment project in terms of CDM15 is known as the pre-construction phase and this is where DRM is considered and should address the sequencing of the activities to maintain the buildings compartmentation, fire resistance, protection of elements of structure, fire stopping, cavity barriers and fire suppressant systems. Your DRM process will enable fundamental decisions to be taken at an early stage and these can be recorded in the Design Risk Register. The design decisions and the remaining residual risks can then be used by the Principal Contractor during the construction phase of the project. When the project moves to construction phase the Principal Contractor will require an FSO Fire Risk Assessment (FRA):

  • Step 1 – identify the hazards.
  • Step 2 – identify people at risk.
  • Step 3 – evaluate, remove, reduce and protect from risk.
  • Step 4 – record, plan, inform, instruct and train.
  • Step 5 – review.

The Management of the requirements of the FRA can be challenging. For example, if you are adding or altering a fire staircase and temporary fire doors are to be made up on site as an interim measure – these doors need to be commissioned in the same way as the planned fire door set. As the Client you may consider auditing the Fire Risk Assessment and fire risk management arrangements for the refurbishment project as it progresses.

A Fire Fighter’s Story

“I previously worked in the Fire & Rescue Service and attended an incident in a multi-story city centre office complex where a member of the public found smoke in the complex lobby and called 999. The reason they dialled 999 was they had operated the manual fire alarm; however, it did not activate. When we attended we had a Christmas office party in full flow on the 11th floor, and on the top floor was a Meteorological Centre operating 24/7 who were resistant to evacuating. The automatic and manual alarm system had been disconnected as part of a building upgrade, however there was no means of temporary reinstating the system or provision of a stand-by system. The fire was on the 8th floor and we were able to quickly control the situation; and the incident was passed to the Fire Safety Enforcement Team. I share this experience as refurbishment projects can and do go wrong if not planned and organised effectively.”

Reference Link : HSG 168 Fire Safety in Construction


Other work from the same author:


March 27, 2018

What's in a Client's Brief?

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM15) are the main set of regulations for managing the health, safety and welfare of construction projects. These regulations place specific duties on clients and other duty holders.

Under CDM15, Designers and Contractors should be appointed at the earliest opportunity to help prepare and plan for a construction project. Experience has shown that, when designers and contractors are involved early in the project, everyone is better able to plan ahead and solve problems together to deliver a more successful project.

As a Client, one effective way of explaining what you want, as well as helping you to carry out your duties under CDM15, is to develop a Client’s Brief. As the Client, you will have requirements and expectations that will assist those designing, constructing or using the structure or building. Sharing these at an early stage can help shape how each duty holder approaches, plans and accommodates your requirements.

The Client’s Brief may take the form of verbal discussions or it could be a written document drafted by you, your appointed Principal Designer or by a designer or contractor after you have discussed your requirements with them. A clear brief is essential to the success of your project. It sets out key requirements, outlines your vision of the project and communicates your aims and aspirations.

As a Client, you have a significant role to play. Clients set standards and ensure work is carried out without risking the long-term health and safety of those on site.

What should the Client Brief include?

The brief should:

  • describe the main function and operational requirements of the finished building or structure
  • outline your motivation for initiating the project
  • give your expectations during the project, including how health and safety risks should be managed
  • explain the design direction you have in mind
  • establish a single point of contact for any client queries or discussions during the project
  • set a realistic timeframe and budget.

Whilst the initial client brief sets out your general requirements and expectations for the project, it is also important that it outlines your health and safety expectations.

We at Safety For Design assist our Clients with the advice and support to successfully deliver construction projects in either the Principal Designer role, as Principal Designer Assist services to other companies or, as Client CDM H&S Advisory services.



March 9, 2018

Ever had a false positive drug test? Well, one of our consultant's just had one.

Drug screening results can affect the lives and circumstances of those involved. In recent times drug testing has gone from a non-existent practice to a widespread acceptance within the construction industry. This is due to the rise in use of recreational drugs. Cannabis users comprise the largest number of illicit drug users in the UK; second are amphetamine-type stimulants, followed by opiate and cocaine.

Approximately 3 million continuous drug users in the UK.

Many companies have adopted a zero tolerance to drugs and alcohol approach. Drugs and Alcohol Policies can include site induction drug screening, random testing, toolbox talks and other media pathways. Concentration and co-ordination are crucial when working in the construction environment. Accidents can occur as a result of impairment or intoxication. Accidents have consequences including loss of time, insurance costs, damages and legal costs etc. Indirect costs can include loss of reputation and confidence in an organisation.

35% of employees have noticed their colleagues under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Drug testing is not about catching the drug users, it’s about putting control measures in place that prevent the introduction of drug users on to a construction site. If an employee comes forward, the Policy should aim to support the affected employees as opposed to punishing them or dismissing them. Nonetheless, possession or dealing in illegal drugs should be referred to the Police.

It is an offence under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 for any person knowingly to permit the production, supply or use of controlled substances on their premises except in specified circumstance e.g. prescribed by a doctor.

It is important for organisations initiating a Drugs and Alcohol Policy to understand the knock-on effects from the outcome. A false positive is when a sample is incorrectly recorded as a positive when the sample is negative, research shows that rates can be as high as 10%-15%.

Drugs Side Effects of Drugs Drug

What can cause a False Positive result?

  • ‘Over the counter’ medicines – Ibuprofen/PCP, Diet Pills/Amphetamines.
  • Foods – Poppy Seeds/Opiates, Hemp Oil/Marijuana, Cocas Leaf tea/Cocaine.
  • Prescription Medication – Antidepressants/Amphetamines, Quinine/Opiates, Tramadol/PCP.
  • Human Error – Contamination, Manipulation.

The consequences of a false positive test differ from loss of employment, social stigma, possible legal action, suspension, stress, loss of money etc. Organisations must ensure that their policy and management arrangements are comprehensive and consider the potential for false positive results.

Many organisations offer a single drugs/alcohol test on induction/randomly, if these test positive operatives are asked to leave site. Urine and Saliva drug tests are common practice on construction sites due to their low cost/quantity and fast results. However; inaccuracy, potential for contamination and lack of ability to measure the frequency of use or impairment are disadvantages of these tests. A comprehensive system would highlight potential positives using a quantitative testing such as saliva or urine test. This would then be supported by a test method with higher accuracy and ability to measure frequency and impairment, such as blood and hair testing. This would counteract false positive results and the consequences thereafter.

Urine Sampling

  • Inexpensive
  • Detects recent drug use (previous 4-72 hours)
  • Can target multiple drugs at once
  • Rapid test results
  • Easily manipulated
  • Collection process is not observed
  • Cannot measure the frequency of use or severity of impairment
  • Invasive test

Oral Fluid Testing

  • Inexpensive
  • Detects recent drug use (previous 4-72 hours)
  • Can target multiple drugs at once
  • Rapid test results
  • Sample collected under direct observation
  • Cannot detect drug use beyond 48 hours
  • Cannot measure the frequency of use or severity of impairment
  • Invasive test

Hair Testing

  • 3 months detection period
  • Can indicate the frequency of drug use
  • Can target multiple drugs at once
  • Sample collected under direct observation
  • Accurate
  • Difficult to manipulate results
  • Expensive
  • Extended result time - 5 days+
  • Invasive test
  • Relies on presence of body hair

Blood Testing

  • Can indicate the frequency of drug use
  • Can target multiple drugs at once
  • Sample collected under direct observation
  • Accurate
  • Difficult to manipulate results
  • Expensive
  • Extended result time - 2 days
  • Invasive test
  • Administered by a Health Care professional


Other work from the same author:

February 26, 2018

The International Language of Safety

“Health and Safety’: Is it truly an international language?”

During a recent design team meeting in which SFD was liaising with the Client, Principal Contractor (PC) and end Client, it quickly became apparent that the foreign end Client was unaware of the comparatively ‘higher’ standards of health and safety legislation compliance required when operating in Great Britain (GB) and the specific duties CDM 2015 places on a construction project. The end Client became increasingly concerned of the steps that needed to be taken to enable its non-GB contractors to carry out early access fit-out works during the construction phase of the main works under the control of a PC i.e. it was clear that the end Client had not allowed sufficient project resources to meet these requirements, including:

  • applicable CDM 2015 Regulations, such as:
  • Regulation 9 Duties of Designers
  • Regulation 10 Designs prepared or modified outside Great Britain
  • Regulation 15 concerning duties of Contractors;
  • checks on the skills, knowledge and experience on non-GB Contractors and how difficulties may be overcome;
  • the collation and sharing of pre-construction information between all relevant parties;
  • understanding the PC’s health and safety management arrangements set out within the Construction Phase Plan, including the PC’s risk assessment and method statement production and approval procedure;
  • provision of information for the Health and Safety File;
  • phasing of the proposed works with the main works; and
  • arrangements affecting the delivery and storage of the end Client’s materials, plant and equipment.

The PC and SFD, as Client CDM Advisor, began to set out the level of planning that would be required by the end Client in order to meet its intended delivery programme, whilst highlighting the range of options that were available about how this could be best achieved.

Factors that non-GB organisations should consider when planning construction projects in GB include:

  • understanding that the same health and safety law applies to overseas workers as to the GB workforce, and, everyone at work, including employers and workers, have responsibilities under it;
  • understanding the requirements of all applicable legislation relating to the proposed design/construction work;
  • understanding any differences in language when describing technical terms, processes, plant, contractual arrangements, etc. or when complying with emergency arrangements, site rules, health and safety signage, etc.;
  • considering the needs of workers who may not speak English well, if at all, and the level of support that may be required, including translation services (particularly with technical terms), nonverbal communication, using a ‘buddy system’ (i.e. putting experienced workers with new or inexperienced migrant workers who speak the same language to help smooth the transition when they commence work), providing English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses for workers who need to improve their English, etc.;
  • understanding whether vocational accreditations/qualifications of non-GB organisations/workers are compatible with those in GB;
  • understanding any project-specific requirements that may be imposed by a Client, Principal Designer, Principal Contractor, etc.; and
  • understanding the arrangements and responsibilities for providing information, instruction, training and supervision on site.


Other work from the same author:

February 21, 2018

Managing Design Risk

The management of risk during the design process is essential for a project to be built safely and maintained safely. A common misconception amongst Designers, since the introduction of the CDM Regulations 2015, has been to think that the Design Risk Management process required them simply to identify the residual hazards in their designs, and to provide information so that others (usually the Principal Contractor) could deal with the risk issues. In fact, it is essential that Designers direct their actions towards reducing risks through design decisions or provisions. Only as a last resort should Designers rely on actions by the Principal Contractors on site to provide the means of protection for workers and others during work activities.

Managing safety during the design process can also make a big difference to the lives, health and well-being of those who work on the buildings and other structures. It affects construction workers, maintenance workers, the building users and members of the public.

Design considerations that will inform Design Risk Management:

  • What is being built? What should it look like, and what is the function?
  • Where is the project being built?
  • What materials will be used, and how will they be specified?
  • How will it be used?
  • How will it be built (risks to site workers, users and/or the general public)?
  • When will it be built, how long will it take to build (or how long does the Client want to allow)?
  • What are the constraints and circumstances affecting the design and construction?
  • Who else is designing this, and what elements or aspects are they addressing e.g. Temporary Works?
  • What is happening on the adjacent sites or areas?
  • What will actively be continuing to be done or used on the site during the construction phase?
  • Is this a structure that will be used as a workplace and/or used by the general public?
  • How will this structure or element be maintained (risk to site workers, maintainers, users and/or the general public)?
  • How will this structure be cleaned, accessed, altered, refurbished, removed or demolished?

Designers should critically assess their design proposals at an early stage, and then throughout the design process, to ensure that health and safety issues are identified, integrated into the overall design process and addressed as they go along. It is pointless to complete the design first, and then try to address the risks that the design has introduced. By then, all of the key decisions are likely to have been taken and no one will be willing to make any changes because of the time and cost involved.

Designers must (so far as reasonably practicable):

  • Identify foreseeable hazards, and particularly any significant risks affecting health and safety;
  • Eliminate hazards;
  • Minimise remaining identified risks by design;
  • Consider pre-fabrication to minimise work (e.g. pre-fabricated and pre-stressed concrete bridge beams);
  • Design in features to reduce risks, (i.e. from working at height, deep excavations…etc.;
  • Ensure that designs are suitable and compatible with any interacting or interrelating designs;
  • Take into account the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 (and Amendments);
  • Provide information on significant risks associated with their design (e.g. information on drawings, suggested construction sequences, Temporary Works…);
  • Identify any future cleaning, maintenance, alteration and demolition hazards for the Health and Safety File.

Designers do not have to eliminate all risks, but if they let them remain they do need to justify this. They must identify foreseeable significant residual risks and communicate these clearly to others. The Principal Designer should ask questions and prompt the Designers to comply with good Design Risk Management and the intentions of CDM 2015.

In taking account of the General Principles of Prevention, Designers are required to assess the risks implicit in their designs. Design Risk Assessments are a good tool for Designers to document their process and reasoning.

It is the Principal Designer’s duty to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, that information is being passed onto those who need it, when they need it – even though they may not know they need it – including what is needed by the Client, other Designers, those tendering, the Principal Contractor and, if necessary, other Contractors. A Project Design Risk Register helps the Principal Designer and the design team to demonstrate this.

Safety For Design Ltd has many years of experience in Design Risk Management. Contact us today to bring our valuable experience to help deliver your construction projects safely.


Other work from the same author:

February 9, 2018

The Evolution of the Employer's Agent

The Employer’s Agent (EA); a quantity surveyor, project manager, client representative or all three?

“The employer’s agent for the purpose of any contract must be one individual within whom the employer has entrusted his or her authority to manage the project.” (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, 2018)

Employer’s Agent; a well-known term within the construction industry, but still yet to be clearly defined. An Employer’s Agent can be involved within a project in many different capacities. The core element of the role is to represent the Client. Quantity Surveyors with the correct experience can provide a cost consultancy role.

The success of the Design and Build process has allowed the EA role to grow. Many Clients who undertook construction work began to pay close attention to contracts that reduced their risk. The Design and Build (D&B) contract meant construction and design risk could be transferred to the Principal Contractor.

Historically the process was used on small to medium sized projects, however, recent alterations have meant it can be used on larger projects. Furthermore, the D&B process creates the opportunity to harness the wealth of industry experience and knowledge of the Principal Contractor. With the ability to be used on larger projects, additional project management to deliver the project was required. This became a Project Management role.

The initial Design and Build contract arrived as Joint Contracts Tribunal (JCT) Standard Form of Contract with Contractor’s Design in 1981. Four revisions have provided the most recent 2016 current version, referencing the Employers Agent within the contract.

The EA is identified within the contract and acts on behalf of the client in all matters including execution and decision making. A client will provide a brief, consisting of the employer’s objectives, financial and timescale criteria. The brief will detail the extent of authority the EA holds within the contract.

Although not classed as a duty holder within CDM 2015, the EA hold contractual obligations and usually ensures the Client’s requirement, under Regulation 4, are carried out. Nonetheless, the Employer’s Agent must have a good understanding of Construction, Design and Management Regulations 2015.


Other work from the same author:

February 2, 2018

The HAVS and the HAV nots

Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome is a debilitating condition caused by the continuous or frequent use of hand-held power tools and industrial equipment which emit vibration. Symptoms of HAVS include pain, numbness, tingling and loss of nerve sensitivity. These symptoms can cause pain, discomfort, sleep disturbance and an inability to pick up items.

Some companies supply anti-vibration gloves however the HSE warns;

“…[anti-vibration gloves] are not particularly effective at reducing the frequency-weighted vibration associated with risk of HAVS and they can increase the vibration at some frequencies.”

It is understood through research that they can in some cases do more harm than good as they give the wearer a false sense of security. They do provide warmth and a way to keep hands dry, however they are also believed to encourage the wearer to hold a stronger grip which worsens the effects of vibration.

Tasks involving equipment and tools which emit vibration must be subject to a risk assessment to identify control measures such as restricted usage, regular maintenance, breaks etc. using the HSE guidance found at

In Court

  • A company which failed to limit the duration and magnitude of vibration exposure to maintenance workers, was fined £100,000 after its health surveillance found six cases of HAVS.
  • A steel fabricator was fined £120,000 after exposing employees to the risk of developing hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).
  • They had failed to ensure its employees were given enough information, instruction and training on the effects of vibrating hand tools.
  • The company had to pay an additional £7,000 in court fees.


Other work from the same author:

January 26, 2018

Security isn't a dirty word... your responsibilities

Each year construction work injures and kills people who have no direct connection to it. A landowner or occupier of a site is responsible for ensuring the safety of non-employees, trespassers and particularly children. Failure to do so can land them in court, even if the injured party was trespassing with criminal intent. These can be difficult cases to defend, whether in criminal or civil proceedings.

Site security is necessary for preventing a number of serious issues, including:

  • Preventing trespassers, especially children, from entering the building site and climbing on the equipment, putting themselves in danger;
  • Vandalism and arson to assets on site;
  • Risk of serious injury to workers/members of the public that can result in litigation and compensation claims.

The Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015 place a number of duties on a design team in relation to site security on a construction project with an aim to prevent these incidents occurring.

  • Clients must provide project specific health and safety information at the pre-construction stage. The pre-construction information should include, among other things, arrangements for the security of the site and site hoarding requirements.
  • When developing a construction phase plan, the Principal Contractor should set out the organisation and arrangements that have been put in place to manage risk and co-ordinate work on site, including site security. This will include authorisation procedures for the management of visitors and workers on to site and other positive measures to keep others off site.
  • There is also a specific duty on contractors not to begin work on a construction site unless there are measures to prevent unauthorised access to site.

It is key to consider site security during the design phase and before any work begins on site. This will allow for an assessment of all security risk factors, which can then be designed out or effectively mitigated with proper planning.

In addition to a clear perimeter, the following basic security measures can greatly reduce the risk of unauthorised access;

  • Secure sites adequately when finishing work for the day;
  • Isolate and immobilise vehicles and plant and, if possible, lock them in a compound;
  • Store building materials so that they cannot fall onto someone;
  • Barrier off/cover over excavations and pits;
  • Remove access ladders from excavations and scaffolds;
  • Lock away hazardous substances;
  • Security lighting can act as a deterrent to potential trespassers.
January 18, 2018

Pre Construction Information can help Prevent Catastrophic Injuries

Construction firm fined after employee suffered serious burns.

A company undertaking excavation work has been fined for safety breaches, when a worker was burned after striking underground electrical cables.

​In February 2016 an employee was excavating the ground at a site in the South East. He struck an electrical cable and was set on fire. He received significant burns to his lower body, causing him to be hospitalised for one month and unable to work for six weeks.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company failed to adequately plan, manage and monitor the construction work; failed to obtain drawings from the utility company detailing the position of underground cables, and did not re-scan the affected ground to a sufficient depth while excavation work was ongoing.

Both the injured person, and the employee responsible for scanning the ground did not receive training for their tasks, despite this being detailed in the company’s risk assessments and method statements.

The construction ​company pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 13(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and has been fined £25,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,979.68.

“While not being trained is a causal factor, I cannot help to think that if the services were identified within a sufficient PCI, coupled with the (Distribution Network Operator) DNO’s contact details and guidance notes, or at the very least ‘dial before you dig’ information, the contractor receiving this information could have planned and managed the works more appropriately thus preventing this unfortunate incident.” – MN
January 12, 2018

Flaming Piling Cushions

When developing your approach to Pile Driving Safety consider the pile cushion in the design process. Pile Cushions deteriorate after 2000 blows and I have come across a cushion that has caught fire on site. After being pounded for some time, the cushion will become compacted and its effectiveness as a cushion is diminished.  Monitor your cushions and include in the design a safe method of replacement. For information on piling techniques check out our Piling Advice Note


Other work from the same author:

1 2