Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996
The Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations came into force in September 1996 and were introduced to simplify the existing Regulations from 1992, as well as introduce some new provisions that arose from 92/57/EEC (an EC Directive on construction). Whilst these were revoked in 2007 by the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007, they formed an extremely important part of the law governing construction for the 11 years that they were in force.
The Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 detailed many well-known requirements for those working in the construction sector and covered most activities undertaken on construction sites however, there were various parts of the Regulations that needed an update. The updated Regulations aimed to cover these aspects. It must be noted that lifting operations were covered separately under the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations.
The primary changes introduced in 1996 surrounded enforceable safety measures for the construction industry including; preventing falls, safe methods for demolition and dismantling operations, safe systems, fire detection and ensuring the stability of structures on a site. The onus was on the construction company more than ever to ensure safe and suitable access to every place of work without risks to health and safety, with equipment and PPE properly maintained at all times!
Why these changes were needed:
Since the Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 had been introduced 4 years prior, the construction industry had identified the need for more structure around certain processes and operations to ensure health and safety was paramount at all times to all workers on any given site. Employers, the self-employed and those in charge of how construction work was carried out, needed to ensure that the Regulations they were following covered all bases and that those carrying out the work had sufficient access to report any failings or risks as part of their role.
In addition, some of the Regulations set out in 1992 were quite complex and benefited from being simplified in the 1996 iterations.
Prosecutions under Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996
There were numerous prosecutions under the Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996, of varying amounts depending on the details of the case. These included:
- A building company in Northern Ireland was fined £22,500 after breaching Regulation 9 of the Construction (Health Safety & Welfare) Regulations (NI) 1996 (Stability of Structures), in conjunction to breaches of the Health and Safety at Work (NI) Order 1978 and the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations (NI)) 2000.
A former textile mill that the company was converting into apartments partially collapsed, thankfully at a time where no workers were on site. 25 families had to be evacuated as a precaution as engineers were concerned the collapse had involved a gas pipe but there were no injuries reported – had the collapse have happened during the day, this outcome could have been very different!
- A construction company is Bridgend pleaded guilty to breaches under the Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996 with fines of £5,000 and costs of £6,605.25 after an employee fell 2.85m through a gap and suffered injuries, including a fractured skull and vertebrae.
- Another construction company in Ireland was fined £40,000 after breaching Regulation 6 (1) of the Construction (Health Safety & Welfare) Regulations (NI) 1996 (Falls; Suitable and sufficient steps shall be taken to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, any person falling).
A labourer working on a site was standing on a pallet raised on the forks of a telescopic materials handing machine when he fell and suffered severe, permanent injuries. The company were fined as this was an extremely unsafe method of working and any work undertaken at height should have been properly planned!