10th December, 2020

25 Health And Safety Regulations That Apply To Construction

Health and safety regulations apply to every industry, not only construction, but there are some extra laws you should know about in construction. Let's look at the health and safety legislation, rules and requirements that apply to the high hazard construction industry.

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Health and safety is an important consideration for any construction project. Not just to keep your workforce safe (although, this is the most important reason for health and safety), but also to comply with the law. When a health and safety regulation applies to construction work, the law is usually enforced by the HSE, who are the enforcing authority on construction sites.

Of course, health and safety regulations apply to every industry. Some of the regulations on our list could be applied to any workplace, for example, manual handling regulations. Others apply specifically to construction, such as the CDM regulations. And not every regulation will apply to every construction project. Some regulations will apply to all projects, for example, PPE regulations. Others will only apply if that type of work is being carried out, e.g. confined spaces.

The following list includes 25 key pieces of legislation that can be applied to health and safety on construction projects:

  1. The Health and Safety at Work Etc Act - not exactly a regulation, but the act under which specific health and safety regulations are formed.
  2. The Construction (Design & Management) Regulations - known as CDM, these construction-specific regulations apply to every project no matter how big or small.
  3. The Health & Safety (First Aid) Regulations - every workplace needs first aid cover, but because construction is higher risk, first aid requirements are higher too.
  4. The Personal Protective Equipment Regulations - PPE is important in all workplaces, it's your last line of defence against a hazard. PPE is a legal requirement under these regulations.
  5. The Manual Handling Operations Regulations - construction sites aren't the only places you will find lifting and carrying, but they are certainly somewhere you need to think LITE.
  6. The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) - reporting injuries is a legal requirement in every industry, including construction.
  7. The Electricity at Work Regulations - construction work is where electrical systems get installed, maintained and updated. And there's a set of regulations for that.
  8. The Gas Safety Regulations - if you're working on gas, you need to know about gas safety. It's the law.
  9. The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations - drills, saws, sanders, compactors, pumps, machinery. All vibration exposure needs to be within the legal limits of the control of vibration regulations.
  10. The Control of Noise at Work Regulations - too much noise is bad for you, so if you're carrying out noisy work on your site, check the noise action levels and legal limits.
  11. The Health & Safety Signs and Signals Regulations - you'll find different types of signs on construction sites, warning you of dangers and telling you what to do.
  12. The Confined Spaces Regulations - confined spaces are dangerous places, and you might find yourself needing to work in one on a construction site. If you do, the confined spaces regulations will apply.
  13. The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations - often shortened to PUWER, these regulations require that equipment is safe, suitable, maintained, inspected and installed correctly.
  14. The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations - often shortened to LOLER, all lifting operations involving lifting equipment must use suitable equipment, be properly planned, appropriately supervised and carried out safely.
  15. The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations - this set of regulations apply to every workplace, and every employer, requiring work to be planned, risk assessed, organised and controlled.
  16. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order - fire safely laws apply to every workplace, including construction sites. Here are 13 fire prevention tips to get you started.
  17. The Control of Asbestos Regulations - asbestos is constructions biggest killer, and while asbestos use is now banned, asbestos can still be found in buildings across the UK. Training, surveys and safe removal are all legal requirements.
  18. The Control of Lead at Work Regulations - lead is another hazardous material found on construction sites that has its own legal requirements.
  19. The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations - not every hazardous material has its own regulations, but many hazardous substances are covered in this set of regulations, known as COSHH.
  20. The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations - known as DSEAR, these regulations place legal duties on employers and the self-employed to protect people from risks of fire, explosion and corrosion.
  21. The Working at Height Regulations - these regulations cover work at height which includes work or access to any place above or below ground level where a fall could cause injury.
  22. The Hazardous Waste Regulations - health and safety regulations don't just apply to your work on the site, you also need to make sure your waste does not cause harm or damage.
  23. The Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations - machinery supplied in the UK must meet health and safety requirements and, where necessary, be examined by an approved body. These regulations also cover CE marking.
  24. Ionising Radiations Regulations - construction workers can be exposed to ionising radiation from both natural (radon in soil) and manmade sources (industrial radiography, work at power plants etc).
  25. The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act - while this isn't a regulation, this law means that companies can be found guilty of corporate manslaughter as a result of a gross breach of a duty of care.

How do these regulations impact construction? In big ways! For example, the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations is what makes producing risk assessments a legal requirement. The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations is why you need COSHH assessments. Have an induction on every new project? That's a legal requirement under the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations (CDM).

In the high-risk construction industry, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that there are a variety of regulations in place to try to protect the safety of workers. If you work in construction, you need to know about a few extra health and safety regulations compared to some other workplaces. Why does the construction industry get these extra rules and regulations, or as it is often referred to as, red tape?

Because construction work is higher risk, compared to say, working in an office or a school. You are often dealing with hazards that other workplaces don't often come across, like working at height in an incomplete building, using heavy machinery, demolishing structures, coming across live services and harmful materials.

Some regulations apply across all workplaces, no matter the industry, and these also need to be considered in construction. Some regulations, such as CDM (Construction Design & Management Regulations) are more specific in applying only to construction projects.

Any legislation which places duties on employers and others to ensure the safety of their workers and those affected by their work is relevant to the UK construction industry.

We've included the most common construction regulations here, but this is a non-exhaustive list. Other regulations may apply depending on the specific hazards present on your project, and the work being carried out. If you're doing something unusual, like using explosives or working on pressure systems, then additional regulations will apply to your work.

The list is based on UK regulations. Legal requirements can differ, inside and outside the UK from country to country.

Find out more about the legal duties of employers, and the legal duties of employees, and the duty of care at work.

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This article was written by Emma at HASpod. Emma has over 10 years experience in health and safety and BSc (Hons) Construction Management. She is NEBOSH qualified and Tech IOSH.

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