Health, Safety & Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations 2013
The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations 2013 (the “Regulations”) came into force on 1 August 2013. They replace and repeal all pre-existing regulations in this area.
Inclusion of Private Dwellings
The main change in the Regulations is the inclusion of domestic homeowners in the definition of “client”. This change is being effected in order to combat fatalities and serious injuries on domestic construction sites and also ensure Ireland’s compliance with European law. In 2011, the European Commission advised Ireland that it was in breach of the Temporary and Mobile Sites Directive EC 92/57, since the existing health and safety construction regulations excluded domestic projects from the obligation to appoint health and safety project supervisors.
The new Regulations mean that additional health and safety duties will now arise for domestic homeowners when certain types of construction works are carried out in their homes. The Construction Industry Federation has commented that the imposition of these duties may have positive impacts in that it may be less attractive to homeowners to procure construction services from the black market and that it should allow closer supervision of this sector of the construction market by the Health and Safety Authority (“HSA”).
For the purposes of the Regulations, there are now two types of clients:
- clients for construction work on private domestic dwellings; and
- clients for construction work in furtherance of a trade, business or undertaking.
It is important to note that anyone who carries out works on a domestic house, for the purpose of rental or sale, is considered to be a client for construction work in furtherance of a trade, business or undertaking.
The key duty of a client procuring construction work on a private dwelling will involve appointing, where necessary, a Project Supervisor Design Process (“PSDP”) and a Project Supervisor Construction Stage (“PSCS”). In most cases the architect or engineer will be the PSDP and the contractor will be the PSCS. The appointments must be in writing and a form of appointment is available on the HSA website.
A client has a general duty under the Regulations to be reasonably satisfied that any designer or contractor that it engages for construction work has the necessary competency and has allocated adequate resources to comply with its obligations under the Regulations. In the case of domestic projects, designers and contractors must demonstrate to the client that they have such competency and resources. This is a helpful provision from the perspective of the domestic client, who may not have the expertise to know what matters to examine in order to assess competency and resources. The HSA guidelines for homeowners, (referred to below), include a competency checklist of questions that homeowners can also put to designers and contractors to assess competency and resources, which is useful.
If a project fulfils the requirements for a PSDP and PSCS to be appointed, then a safety file must be retained. The obligation to maintain this file is the responsibility of the PSDP who must then give it to the homeowner on completion of the project. The homeowner must retain the safety file so that it is available to anyone carrying out works on the property in the future.
The HSA has produced guidelines for homeowners regarding their duties when embarking on a domestic project. It has also produced guidelines aimed at contractors and project supervisors who undertake work on private domestic dwellings. These guidelines can be accessed at:
Exemption from Application of Regulations
Whilst the Regulations came into effect on 1 August 2013, if prior to that date:
- the design process for a domestic dwelling, not in relation to trade business or undertaking, had commenced; or
the construction stage for a domestic dwelling, not in relation to trade, business or undertaking, had commenced, then the duties in relation to appointment of project supervisors do not apply for a period of 12 months.
Scope of Obligation to Appoint Project Supervisors
Under the pre-existing construction regulations, certain routine maintenance, cleaning, decoration and repair construction works were excluded from the obligation to appoint project supervisors. The scope of projects that are excluded from this obligation has now been widened under the Regulations and the exclusion is no longer confined to construction work involving routine maintenance, cleaning, decoration and repair. Consequently, the obligation to appoint project supervisors does not arise unless:
- the work involves a particular risk. (Guidance is provided in the Regulations as to what constitutes a particular risk);
- there is more than one contractor involved in the project;
- the work will take more than 30 working days; or
- the work will take more than 500 person days (person days means the number of days the work takes multiplied by the number of people doing the work).
The purpose of the above change is to remove many short, low-risk construction activities from the obligation to appoint project supervisors.
For further information, please contact your usual Eversheds contact or:
Senior Associate, Projects and Construction
Telephone: +353 1 6644270
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This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full terms and conditions on our website.