Safety has traditionally been seen as the builder's problem. During construction this remains true. However, UK law now says everyone involved in a construction project has responsibilities and duties. This includes clients.
This page is an introduction - no more - to the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations. It is not a complete statement of the law.
If you are having an extension to your home, the regulations apply but either your Architect or your Builder is responsible for compliance - you don't have to do anything. Most other projects (including repair and maintenance which exceeds set limits) will be subject to the Regulations.
'Early and provident fear is the mother of safety'
(Edmund Burke (1729-1797) British political writer)
The penalties for failure to comply with the Regulations are criminal sanctions: fines and (in extreme cases) imprisonment.
The duties of designers and contractors are much as you might expect - to think ahead, to plan the work and to work in a safe manner. Designers are expected to "design out" risks where possible; this applies to avoiding risks which could arise in the course of future maintenance as well as risks to construction workers. So you may find your Architect worrying about how you will be able to clean those inaccessible windows ...
There are a number of duties which apply to clients, but they boil down to:
- not employing cowboys
- allowing the people you do employ sufficient time and resources to do their jobs properly - DON'T ask questions like 'you don't really need that scaffolding, do you ?' don't rush your builder to start before they are ready, and don't tell them you are not bothered about 'all this safety red tape'
- supplying your builder with relevant information you have or can reasonably obtain