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September 22, 2010

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BCA agreement to help HSE extend construction-site reach

The HSE has signed an agreement with the Building Control Alliance (BCA) to help it spread the health and safety message in the construction industry, especially to hard-to-reach small sites.

The agreement, which was signed on 17 September, commits members of the Building Control Alliance (BCA) and the HSE to work more closely together, for example, in providing health and safety advice to the construction industry.

The BCA is an umbrella group set up to represent those Building Control (BC) professionals with responsibility for inspecting building works to ensure duty-holders are compliant with Building Regulations, and the professional bodies that accredit them. BC professionals work in the local-authority sector, or in the private sector as Approved Inspectors.

The HSE believes that BC professionals are in an ideal position to help promote improvements in health and safety for those working in the construction sector, particularly on small sites, which the Executive’s inspectors find most difficult to target.

The agreement clearly distinguishes the separate regulatory roles and responsibilities of the HSE and BC professionals, whose duty of care is not extended by the terms set out. The Executive is also clear that BC professionals will not be used as a replacement for HSE inspectors visiting sites.

A spokesperson for the regulator told SHP: “The aim of the agreement between HSE and the BCA is to improve the number of construction sites who receive life-saving advice on health and safety. We want to increase the standards of health and safety across the industry, especially with the smaller temporary sites, which can be hard to reach. This move is absolutely not about reducing the number of inspections that HSE carries out.”

Under the agreement, any matter creating a risk of serious personal injury, or ill health to workers or the public, which comes to the attention of BC professionals, is defined as a matter of evident concern (MoEC).

The agreement states: “Where MoECs come to the attention of BC professionals on sites they are visiting as part of their professional duties, they should bring them to the attention of the person in control of the site, where they are able to do so. If they cannot do so, if they consider this is inappropriate, or where the response to such an approach is not satisfactory they should report the MoEC to HSE, providing HSE is the relevant enforcing authority.”

Unlike local authorities, private-sector Approved Inspectors do not have enforcement powers. However, according to Nigel Barr, chair of the Association of Consultant Approved Inspectors (ACAI), a BCA member group, Approved Inspectors can issue a contravention notice if they consider building work to be in breach of the Building Regulations. If the notice is not complied with, the inspector should notify the local authority, which will take over the building-control service for the project. However, in practice, added Barr, clients are always willing to cooperate with Approved Inspectors.

Commenting on the HSE agreement, he described it as a “safety net”, and said the facility for BC professionals to give feedback on issues relating to health and safety if they come across them is a “logical step”.

Chief inspector of construction, Philip White, who signed the agreement on behalf of the HSE, sees it as a “further example of how everyone involved in the construction industry can spread the health and safety message”.

Fellow signee and chair of the BCA, Dianne Marshall, added: “Building Control professionals are ideally placed to raise awareness of health and safety issues on construction sites during the course of their inspections. This agreement creates a mechanism for Building Control professionals to discharge their professional duty of care in a simple and straightforward manner by working closely with our HSE colleagues.”

The Building Control Alliance comprises five organisations with an interest in matters of building control: the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), Association of Building Engineers (ABE), the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), the Association of Consultant Approved Inspectors (ACAI) and Local Authority Building Control (LABC).

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Ltc
13 years ago

No doubt this will be another body of peoplewho believe they are safety professionals without the recquisite training and experience. I recall when CDM came in there was a move by LA Building Control Officers to undertake the main roles without being qualified.
I think this may come back to haunt us vis a vis rebadged quanitity surveyors becoming CDM co-ordinators. A retrograde move in my opinion.