Landlords should be aware of new building safety rules

Large building contractors have to operate to strict health and safety standards under the Construction Design and Management (CDM) regulations.

Recent changes to legislation mean that the same rules which apply to large companies will, after April 6th, apply to domestic work involving small builders on renovations of properties including residential and small commercial premises.

The CDM legislation is designed to reduce the number of accidents during the high health and safety risk work carried out on all construction projects. It specifies legal requirements on building site safety standards that now will cover work carried out for home owners who live in the property after work has been completed.

The change is in response to statistics showing that as a result of the regulations large construction sites are no longer where most people are being badly injured or killed. It is the smaller building works typically carried on domestic premises and small commercial premises by small jobbing builders and developers where most accidents occur.

The new rules put the emphasis on all those involved in a construction or renovation project including professionals, architects, engineers, builders and the property owners to work together to meet the new health and safety rules.

For some projects strict documentation is requited throughout the process in the form of a 'Health and Safety File?. This provides a documented outline of what and how work is being undertaken and what is installed. This file is strictly required at the end of the project. If it is not available it could in due course prevent the sale of the property.

Under these new rules, from April 6th all builders of any size, working on residential premises will be required to produce a detailed 'Construction Phase Safety Plan' for all their building projects. All domestic building and renovation projects will now have to meet the same basic standards for health and safety as for commercial projects.

Any domestic project which finished after April 6th, where there has been more than one contractor on site, must have a complete 'Health and Safety File?, which includes drawings and building specifications of installed components. Conveyancing solicitors will now be likely to request the file when properties transfer ownership.

The CDM responsibilities are usually passed from owners to the contractor, where there is only one main contractor, but where there is more than one contractor involved in a project a 'principal designer' must also be appointed to coordinate all the health and safety issues.

If a principal designer leaves part way through a project, responsibility for the health and safety file passes to the main contractor who is also responsible for operational safety on site.

It is anticipated that Health and Safety Executive (HSE) staff will be routinely visiting home improvement sites focussing on safe working practices. If property owners make it difficult for their contractor or designer to comply with the regulations, they could become personally responsible if their actions result in an accident.

Health and safety offences that lead to death or injury can result in unlimited fines and imprisonment for those who are found responsible. It is therefore important that homeowners, landlords and developers chose their building contractors very carefully.

For more information go to the HSE website here

... LandlordZONE.


Article courtesy of LandlordZONE

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