Health, safety and the small builder

There is of course no reason why a jobbing builder working on houses and other small projects should be immune from Health & Safety legislation, and as far as the HSE is concerned, they’re not.  The HSE is particularly concerned about accidents that involve working at height, noting that every year 4,000 people are injured in this way. In fact, if you are in the construction industry you cannot fail to be aware of this unless you have been hiding in a bush.

So last week while one of our surveyors was inspecting a house he spotted this brilliant piece of personal safety…

Rather than a man-safe and a harness, how about a length of polypropylene rope tied round the waist with the other end tied to the scaffold tower, not to mention damage being done to the roofing tiles.

To our mind, this amply illustrates the importance of employing proper competent contractors rather than the cheapest back of a van man you can get. To be honest, if they can’t do the work safely, or even nearly safely, and can’t put boards down over the tiles, what chance is there of the job being any good?

The owners of the house, or those who ordered this work could have found find themselves liable had they knowingly allowed works to continue dangerously and an accident had happened. The Work at Height Regulations 2005 came into force on 6 April 2005. The Regulations apply to all work at height where there is a risk of a fall liable to cause personal injury.

They place duties on employers, the self-employed, and any person that controls the work of others (for example, facilities managers or building owners who may contract others to work at height).

If in doubt ask. The HSE are happy to provide free advice.

The information in this article is for guidance only. There is no substitute for advice specific to your situation. If this is an old post, the law may have changed since it was written.

(Originally published by Steven Way, 12 February 2011)