Health & safety and the client’s responsibility
Jim Bednarz, one of our Health & Safety Manager’s, discusses the health & safety responsibilities of the client.
While the contractor shoulders the responsibility of health & safety during construction, clients and employers are also legally bound to provide a safe working environment to deliver successful project outcomes.
Client interaction with contractors can vary, but they play a key role in determining how smoothly operations run on the ground.
By adequately resourcing a project, clients have the opportunity to increase productivity, site moral and the overall quality of a build. If however, completion dates are too constricted and an unforeseen issue (or issues) arise, this can have a dramatic impact on the programme, site moral and overall costs.
Simply by allowing sufficient time and resources (to include any complications) rather than relying on minimum time allowance, clients can work together with the contractor to alleviate pressures and improve performance.
Clients have proven opportunity to benefit financially by investing in innovative methods and H&S from the word go. An example might be stipulating investment in new tools and equipment such as plant that can be operated by controls rather than manually – removing an individual from a potentially heightened, dangerous position.
Through periods of financial difficulty or pressures to meet targets, bottom line certainly holds its appeal. While there are undoubtedly successful projects delivered from the lowest bid, it is important to consider where corners have been cut to achieve savings – although not always the case – health & safety can be one of the areas to suffer the shortfall.
During the construction period financial implications such as fines, compensation, loss of productivity and costs to rectify issues soon tally up, incurring huge sums that hadn’t originally been catered for. When clients have shown that they have addressed areas of concern pre-construction and ‘cutting corners’ is not an option, they are often repaid by a greater return – avoiding these unforeseen financial difficulties.
While sometimes frustrating and/or difficult to navigate, legal health & safety obligations help to protect both client and contractor, avoiding unnecessary pitfalls and a ‘reaction’ approach.
Consequences of not adhering to legislation could result in Fees for Intervention, Improvement Notices, Prohibition Notices, fines, imprisonment and in a worst-case scenario – the heavy conscience of a fatality.
By being pro-active and aware of client obligations, clients, employers and organisations can take preventative action to avoid legal proceedings and what could result in unfortunate and even tragic consequences for a project, company or individual.
To find out more about health & safety from a client’s perspective, the HSE offers clear guidance to responsibilities and can be contacted for further information. See their guide ‘Want construction work done safetly’ here.
Look out for our April e-shot to read our full H&S case study.