The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) (Amendment) Regulations 2010 (the "Regulations") give further effect to Council Directive 92/57/EEC on the minimum safety and health requirements at temporary or mobile construction sites and amend the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations 2006 (SI No. 504 of 2006) as previously amended. The Regulations came into effect on 2 November 2010.
The Regulations make a number of amendments principally by inserting revised provisions in relation to the duties of the Project Supervisor Construction Stage ("PSCS") in relation to notification of construction works to the Health and Safety Authority ("HSA"), under Regulation 22. Other amendments relate to duties in relation to safety precautions under Regulation 51, health hazards under Regulation 79 and the requirements for shelters and accommodation for clothing and taking of meals, under Regulation 98.
Amended Requirements for Notification to the HSA by the PSCS
The specific requirements of the duty of the PSCS to give notice to the HSA prior to the commencement of construction works have been amended. The new Regulation 22 remains, in most respects, the same as the previous Regulation 22 save for the reference to the new Schedule 7 which sets out, in greater detail, the particulars which are required to be provided in the notification to the HSA. An Approved Form AF2 is available from the HSA for use by the PSCS to comply with these new requirements. This form need not be used, however, as long as the PSCS uses a notice containing all of the information set out in Schedule 7 of the Regulations.
The minimum particulars that must now be notified by the PSCS are as follows:
(a) Name, address, and contact details for the following:
(ii) Project Supervisor Design Process ("PSDP");
(iii) Health and Safety Coordinator – Design Process (if appointed);
(iv) PSCS; and
(v) Health and Safety Coordinator – Construction Stage (if appointed).
(b) Information on the construction works such as a description of the project, address of the construction site, planned date for commencement, number of weeks the works are expected to take, estimated maximum number of workers on site at any one time and planned number of contractors and self-employed persons expected to work on the site.
(c) Details of contractors chosen for the works.
(d) Date the notice was forwarded to the HSA along with the signature and position of the person forwarding it.
Summary of Other Amendments
A new definition of a "confined space" is added (in Regulation 2(1)):
"confined space" means any place which, by virtue of the likelihood of accident, harm or injury of such a nature as to require emergency action due to
(a) the presence or the reasonably foreseeable presence of
(i) flammable or explosive atmospheres
(ii) harmful gas, fume or vapour
(iii) free flowing solid or an increasing level of liquid
(iv) excess of oxygen
(v) excessively high temperature
(c) lack or reasonably foreseeable lack of oxygen
Two new paragraphs are added to Regulation 79 at (3) and (4) which specifically relate to "confined spaces" , and provide for monitoring, implementation of adequate measures to guard against danger and implementation of precautions to effectively and immediately assist persons in a high risk confined space.
A new Regulation 51 on Safety Precautions (in relation to Excavations, Shafts, Earthworks, Underground Works and Tunnels) has been inserted. The main change is that the 1.25 metre rule has been removed in respect of the exception to taking adequate precautions to guard against the fall or dislodgement of earth or other materials – Regulation 51(2).
The previous requirements had been interpreted as meaning that excavations of relatively low depths (i.e. less than 1.25 metres) did not require protection for workers from dislodgements. The amended Regulation 51 has removed the height stipulation, and it is worth noting that the obligation is that anyone in, or in the vicinity of, an excavation of any depth must be protected from dislodgement of the sides of the excavation. The risk assessment carried out by the contractor should identify the nature of the risks involved with the excavation and, in appropriate circumstances, where there is no risk of dislodgement of earth or material, regardless of height, a contractor will not be obliged to take measures to prevent such events.
Regulation 79, which deals with the obligations of contractors in relation to persons being exposed to any chemical, physical or biological hazard on a construction site, has been amended. The obligation on a contractor to "wherever possible" replace a hazardous substance by a harmless or less hazardous substance has been replaced with the more onerous obligation for such replacement/ removal of the hazardous substance "as far as reasonable practicable" - Regulation 79(2)(a).
Regulation 98, relating to shelters and accommodation for clothing and for taking meals, has been amended at (1)(d) to provide that adequate facilities for preparing meals in satisfactory conditions must be provided, where appropriate, for the use of persons at work.
The Regulations clear up ambiguities that existed in relation to the definition of a "confined space" (Regulation 2), expand on the particulars to be provided by the PSCS when notifying the HSA prior to commencement of construction works (Regulation 22) and also deal with the safety precautions that should be taken in respect of all excavations based on a risk assessment, rather than an arbitrary height requirement (Regulation 51). Further, a more onerous obligation in respect of neutralising health hazards on site has been introduced (Regulation 79) and adequate facilities must be provided for employees to prepare meals, where appropriate, on a construction site.
This article contains a general summary of developments and is not a complete or definitive statement of the law. Specific legal advice should be obtained where appropriate.