25th August, 2022
Do you have all the necessary documents for your construction sites? With so many health and safety requirements to cover, in this blog post, we look at the 11 types of essential health and safety documents you'll need to run a construction site.
Construction is a high-risk industry. So if any business needs to have its health and safety documents in order, it's a construction business.
Construction has one the highest workplace injury rates, according to HSE statistics. (2,870 per 100,000 workers - significantly above the workplace average of 1,680).
And it's not just the number of accidents, but the type of work you do in construction means those accidents are likely to cause more serious injuries. Demolition, heights, machinery, power tools, and other construction hazards are not very forgiving when things go wrong.
In construction, many clients won't even let you bid for a project unless you can prove you meet at least the minimum standards for health and safety.
You'll need to show health and safety accreditation, like SSIP. Or answer health and safety questions and provide evidence of your documents and records.
So how do you know if you have all the correct health and safety documents for your construction sites?
The sheer number of health and safety documents might feel overwhelming. (There are over 500 templates on this website!). So let's break this down and consider the types of documents you need.
Construction is one of the only industries with its own dedicated health and safety regulations - the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations, also known as CDM.
If you work in construction, you must know about CDM by law. Here's a quick guide on CDM roles and responsibilities to get you started.
Your construction projects will need three CDM documents.
The pre-construction information will be prepared by the principal designer and the client before work starts. This will include health and safety information about the site, including reports and surveys (like utilities and asbestos).
The construction phase plan gets prepared by the principal contractor, ready for work starting on site. This document shares your plan for how you will manage health and safety issues during the build.
If your construction project is CDM notifiable, you also submit the F10 notification and display this on your site.
Risk assessments are a legal requirement for every type of business, not just construction. But since every construction project is different and involves a wide range of activities, you'll need more risk assessments than the average business.
To keep people safe on your sites, you can look for hazards, assess the risks, and decide how to control them. Make sure you have completed risk assessments for your activities, and any subcontractors supply adequate risk assessments too.
Method statements are different to risk assessments, and not every business needs them. But method statements are used a lot in construction.
A method statement is a document that describes how to do a task safely. You can think of a method statement like a set of instructions or a plan for the work.
Writing out a method statement helps you plan the exact sequence workers need to follow to do a task safely. It provides safety information and a written record of the activity.
COSHH assessments are a special kind of risk assessment. Specifically for hazardous substances, COSHH assessments assess the risk from toxic or harmful chemicals, gases, vapours and dust.
Working in construction, you'll use all sorts of substances like paints and adhesives. And you will create mixtures, fumes and dust too. Your COSHH assessments record how you will protect the health of the people exposed to them.
Health and safety training isn't specifically a health and safety document requirement, but your training records are some of the health and safety documents you will need to provide. Clients (and HSE inspectors) will want documented evidence that your team have the necessary training for the project.
Some health and safety training is legally required. For example, induction training is a legal requirement on every construction site (thanks to CDM). And toolbox talks can also help you comply with the law.
Other training requirements depend on the work you are involved in and to what level. For example, most construction workers will need asbestos awareness training, but those working directly with asbestos removal will need licenced or unlicenced asbestos removal training.
Provide extra training to those in particular roles, for example, site managers, fire marshal, and first aiders. You'll need more first aiders on a construction site compared to a low-risk office environment.
Most workplaces have a fire and emergency plan, and construction sites need these more than most. Your team might not be familiar with the site, at least at the start of the job, so they need to know what to do in an emergency to prevent panic.
But first, you should be planning how to prevent fires from happening on your construction site. Your fire safety plan details the fire safety measures you're putting in place, like permits, storage, and housekeeping.
Other emergencies can happen on construction sites, that might not be very common at all in other workplaces. For example, how do you plan to rescue someone working at height, or if they are trapped in a confined space?
Permits to work cover very high-risk activities, and these are the type of activities that tend to happen on construction sites.
Activities like hot work, excavations, confined spaces and working at height increase the dangers to people on your site. Checks before, during and after these activities (through a permit system) can help make them safer.
You might think a site register is more HR than H&S since it records people's hours on site. But it's also important from a health and safety point of view.
Knowing the exact number of people on site can be tricky, especially on larger projects with multiple contractors.
If there's a fire or other emergency, you have a record of who is on the site, so you can check everyone is out safely. And you can keep track of attendance to assess training and welfare needs.
It's not just people you should keep a register of on your construction site, but equipment too.
Of course, you don't want accidents on your site. And in the perfect world, you won't have any. But don't skip this section!
Because accident records (more specifically, near-miss reporting) can help stop you from having accidents.
If you only use one of the templates in this entire post, make it the free near miss report form. Because by involving your team in spotting problems early, you can keep people safe.
Other documents, like policies, procedures and other forms, might not be as project-specific as the ones we have already covered, but your business will still need them.
The good news is that this kind of document won't usually need creating for each project. It's more company-specific, rather than site-specific.
For example, your construction business needs a health and safety policy, but it won't change from project to project. It's the policy for managing health and safety across all of your projects.
You might choose to have a separate policy for drugs and alcohol, lone working, or accident reporting. And like your general policy, these will apply to all your sites and business operations rather than being project-specific.
Need a document for your construction project? We have over 500 health and safety templates ready for you to edit and download for your business.
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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