REALWorld Law

Construction

Health and safety

In this country, what are the main rules relating to health and safety on construction sites? Do these rules in any way relate to the use of the development after construction is completed?

Angola

Angola

In Angola the main rules relating to health and safety are in the following decrees:

  • Decree No. 13/07 of 26 February 2007, which approved the General Regulation of Urban Buildings
  • Executive Decree No. 40/86, of 13 October 1986, which approved the General Regulations on Health and Safety at Workplace
  • Decree No. 31/94, of 5 August 1994, which approved the Workplace Health and Safety System, and
  • Executive Decree No. 6/96, of 2 February 1996, which approved the General Regulations on Health and Safety Services at Companies Workplace

Nevertheless, specific regulations on health and safety on construction sites are expected soon as, under Joint Dispatch No. 183/15, of 1 June 2015, a technical working group has been created for drafting regulations and a guidebook on health and safety on construction sites.

The health and safety requirements may vary depending on the use of the building (retail, industry or services). There are also some specific health and safety regulations regarding oil industry buildings. There are also specific rules depending on the location and type of construction.

Australia

Australia

The Commonwealth (Federal Government) together with each state and territory has effected legislation to regulate occupational health and safety or work health and safety (OHS or WHS) in each jurisdiction. Each jurisdiction has a principal WHS Act which imposes general health and safety duties. These duties are performance-based obligations rather than highly prescriptive requirements. Most States and Territories have harmonized their legislation, except for Victoria and Western Australia. Western Australia has indicated that it will introduce harmonizing legislation, but Victoria has not made such an indication.

The primary WHS Act in each jurisdiction is supported by detailed performance regulations based on a risk management approach to safety as well as authoritative Codes of Practice applicable to particular industries or activities. Due to the high risk of serious injury associated with it, the construction industry and many activities within it are subject to tight statutory regulation.

The WHS legislation in each jurisdiction imposes duties on employees, those working at the workplace and those who have sufficient control of the workplace, to ensure the health and safety of any person who might be affected by their actions or what they failed to do. Generally speaking, in the construction industry, WHS duties are imposed on more than one duty holder at the site as the responsibilities are concurrent and overlapping. At a construction site, there are WHS duties on:

  • Employers – to employees, contractors and employees of contractors. The duty to contractors extends past ‘first level’ contractors to subcontractors and their employees.
  • Occupiers of workplaces – to employees, contractors and their employees, and other entrants.
  • Employers – to those who may be affected by their undertakings or the business operation.
  • Those nominated as ‘principal contractors’ for a construction project.

Each jurisdiction requires that the duty holder under the relevant WHS Act must ensure the health and safety of those who may be affected so far as is reasonably practicable. In order to gauge what steps are ‘reasonably practicable’, the responsible party must conduct itself in accordance with generally accepted risk management principles. These include the need to balance:

  • The likelihood of the hazard or risk occurring and the degree of harm that would result if the hazard or risk occurred
  • The knowledge of the hazard or risk and the ways to eliminate or reduce the hazard or risk
  • The availability and suitability of ways to eliminate or reduce the hazard or risk, and the cost of eliminating or reducing the hazard or risk

Failure to comply with WHS obligations leaves the person or company liable to criminal prosecution for which fines can be ordered to be paid by a court. For very serious breaches of WHS legislation, a term of imprisonment can be imposed.

Specific regulations deal with construction activities because of the inherent risk of personal injury associated with the industry.

Belgium

Belgium

The main body of Belgian health and safety law is comprised within the Law of 4 August 1996 regarding the well-being of employees in the execution of the works and its executive decree (being the Royal Decree of 25 January 2001 relating to the temporary or mobile working areas).

The law specifies general principles of precaution and prevention for temporary or mobile working areas, in a ‘design’ and ‘execution phase’. The law contains obligations for the building direction (likely to be by the architect) or the owner to appoint a ‘health and safety coordinator on the working site’ during the ‘design phase’. The coordinator has the task of applying the general principles of prevention in the technical and organizational choices of the project and the preparation of a health and safety plan, which will specify the health and safety rules applicable on the work site. The coordinator must also create a file that contains all the useful health and safety data, taking into account the specific characteristics of the construction. The same principle applies in the ‘execution phase’ where the coordinator has to supervise the coordination of works between contractors and other parties.

The Royal Decree of 25 January 2001 defines the specific cases in which the owner or the building direction (mostly by the architect) has to appoint the health and safety coordinator and is also responsible for the safety obligations for the contractors (eg control of equipment, duty to cooperate with the building direction, notification of problems).

These health and safety regulations do not apply once the construction works have been completed.

Bosnia-Herzegovina

Bosnia-Herzegovina

The Rulebook on Construction Sites, Mandatory Documentation and Participants at Construction Sites lays down the minimum requirements for sites. For instance, the client/employer is obliged to designate the site clearly, temporary construction at the site must comply with fire protection rules and procedures and the client/employer must provide a safe environment for workers and visitors there. Air pollution at the site must be managed as well as noise levels. The client/employer must at all times maintain records containing exact details of work carried out on the site, the quantity and quality of the work done and data which might affect the work.

The Law on Spatial Planning and Use of Land regulates health and safety measures for use of the development once construction is completed.

Canada

Canada

Safety standards in Canada are regulated by the provinces and territories, each one having its own occupational health and safety legislation. However, there is federal legislation that relates to employees of the federal government, as well as to employees of federally regulated businesses and industries, such as:

  • Banks
  • Marine shipping, ferry and port services
  • Air transportation
  • Telephone; radio and television broadcasting
  • Inter-provincial services such as railways, road transportation, pipelines, and bridges
  • Businesses dealing with the protection of fisheries as a natural resource
    many First Nation activities
  • Most federal Crown corporations, and
  • Private businesses essential to the operation of a federal act

In most cases, contractors must be registered with their local workers’ safety organization. There are specific rules in each province and federally to protect the health and safety of works on construction sites. Different rules apply when construction is completed.

China

China

Health and safety laws are implemented on a provincial level, and vary from province to province. Generally, these laws are not detailed and do not relate the use of a development after construction is completed.

Croatia

Croatia

Health and safety on construction sites is regulated by the provisions of the Act on Safety at Work (Official Gazette No. 71/14, 118/14 and 154/14) and the Act on Construction (Official Gazette No. 153/13 and 20/17). The Act on Construction also separately regulates the use after completion of the construction.

Czech Republic

Czech Republic

The main regulations relating to health and safety on construction sites are the following:

  • Act No. 183/2006, the Building Act
  • Act No. 262/2006, the Labour Code
  • Act No. 309/2006, the Ensuring Further Health and Safety at Work Act
  • Act No. 258/2000, the Public Health Protection Act
  • Regulation No. 591/2006, providing for Requirements for the Protection of Health and Safety on construction sites.

Legislation also regulates the conditions (relating to health and safety) for employees that work in the premises after the completion of construction.

Denmark

Denmark

In Denmark, the Health and Safety at Work Act dated 19 September 2017 is the most important legislation regulating health and safety on a construction site. There are also various statutory regulations relating to health and safety at the workplace in addition to the Health and Safety at Work Act from 2017.

The Danish health and safety legislation only applies while the construction is being built and not after construction is completed.

France

France

In France, health and safety is governed by the French Labour Code and the French Housing and Construction Code.

Health and safety during the construction works

French law requires a health and safety plan to be prepared and maintained until completion of construction works. This plan needs to set out the arrangements for the project, taking into account the risks to health and safety, and must include arrangements for monitoring compliance by all persons involved. In addition, a health and safety file must be maintained for use at any subsequent time. This must contain information which relates to the structure ‘as built’, and must be available to all future occupiers and contractors carrying out work on the structure.

Duties are imposed on the owner (maître d’ouvrage) to appoint a ‘coordinator’ (who performs a statutory health and safety role) and a ‘principal contractor’ (who will usually be the main building contractor) for any project. The coordinator’s role is to coordinate the health and safety aspects of the early stages of the project, including the health and safety plan and the health and safety file. The principal contractor must develop and update the health and safety file, ensure that rules are created regarding the site and provide guidance and directions to any other contractor.

Health and safety regulations

The applicable health and safety regulations vary in accordance with the use of the building and its main characteristics. As regards the use of the building, some regulations will be applicable if the building is open to the general public (établissement recevant du public) (such as retail stores). As for the characteristics of the building, some regulations will be applicable if the building is a high rise structure (immeuble de grande hauteur).

Germany

Germany

Apart from the general duty to maintain safety the Ordinance on health and safety on construction sites (Baustellenverordnung – BaustellV) sets out the main requirements with regard to health and safety on construction sites:

  • The ordinance on health and safety on construction sites provides that the general principles of labour protection law must be complied with when planning a development.
  • In addition, the competent authority must be notified about the details of the construction site (ie the name of the principal, the construction project, responsible persons, the commencement and duration of works, numbers of employees; the number of employers). This applies where more than 20 workers are employed at the same time on a site and where the duration of the works exceeds 30 days or where the development is estimated to involve more than 500 man-days.
  • Furthermore, a health and safety plan must be developed where a construction site involves employees of more than one employee and must be notified to the authorities or where employees of more than one employer carry out certain specific hazardous works.
  • Such measures and general coordination on the construction site where employees of more than one employer are involved must be provided by the principal, who can transfer these obligations to a third party (ie the contractor). The relevant employers are responsible for the necessary measures with regard to labour protection (eg maintenance of equipment¸ storage of dangerous substances).

These requirements refer only to the construction site during the construction phase and not to the use of the development after completion.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, the following legislation is important regarding construction site safety:

  • Factories and Industrial Undertakings Ordinance (Cap. 59)
  • Construction Site (Safety) Regulations
  • Factory and Industrial Undertakings (Safety Officers and Safety Supervisors) Regulations
  • Factories and Industrial Undertakings (Safety Management) Regulations
  • Occupational Safety and Health Ordinance (Cap. 509).

These rules mainly relate to health and safety during the construction process and not the use of the development after construction is completed.

Statutory duties give rise to criminal liability which means that an offender can be prosecuted by the enforcement agencies and brought before the courts to answer criminal charges in addition to civil liability in tort (ie the law that addresses, and provides remedies for, civil wrongs not arising out of contractual obligations).

Hungary

Hungary

There are several statutory regulations relating to health and safety in the workplace and on construction sites, including provisions relating to protective clothing and equipment, maintenance of a safe working environment, mandatory training and fire protection rules etc. Certain construction activities require the presence of professionals qualified in fire protection.

The parties usually agree in the construction contract that the (main) contractor will be the person liable to ensure that the health and safety regulations are complied with on the construction site. Furthermore, one of the main roles of the technical manager (who coordinates and manages the construction works) employed by the main contractor is to ensure that the works are in full compliance with the applicable laws and regulations, including health and safety regulations.

Following completion and takeover, liability shifts to the employer (or owner) and in practice transforms into a liability to maintain and repair the building and to keep it in a proper condition which does not endanger health and safety.

Ireland

Ireland

Health and safety law in Ireland is governed by statute, by way of both primary and secondary legislation. Statutes provide detailed provisions in relation to safety in the workplace. These include preventative measures, requirements for the appointment of safety personnel and the imposition of general duties on employees and employers. The applicable secondary legislation is derived from EU law. The primary and secondary legislation imposes duties on all employers, contractors, sub-contractors and professional consultants both in the design and construction phases of a construction project.

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations 2013 (the “Regulations”) require two statutory appointments:

  • A Project Supervisor for the Design Process (PSDP); and
  • A Project Supervisor for the Construction Stage (PSCS).

The regulations generally deal with parties' obligations pre-completion. However, the Employer and the Designer are required to ensure that the constructed premises can be maintained safely and without risk to health during subsequent use. In addition, other obligations exist in relation to the handing over and maintenance of the safety file.

Italy

Italy

Health and safety in relation to construction activities is regulated by Legislative Decree No. 81 of 9 April 2008 (Safety Law).

The underlying principle of the Safety Law is to protect the health and safety of workers during the execution of their working activities within any relevant workplace (including construction site works). The Safety Law applies to all productive sectors except for, among other things, the research of, enquiries into and cultivation and storage of liquid and gaseous hydrocarbons within certain territories.

The Safety Law also establishes:

  • specific employer obligations in relation to construction activities in a workplace where normal (non-construction) activities are carried out. These obligations complement the general safety obligations that must be fulfilled in relation to all normal employment activities
  • rules on the health and safety measures that must be undertaken in temporary and moveable work sites; and
  • safety measures in the construction yard applicable to, among others:
    • the employer
    • the director of the works, and
    • the safety co-ordinator
Japan

Japan

Under the Industrial Safety and Health Act (ISHA), employers are obligated to take measures necessary to prevent health hazards, and the like at construction sites.  The ISHA also applies to the use of the completed building.

Some examples of such health hazards, and the like are as follows:

  1. health damage due to raw materials, gases, dusts, pathogens or insufficient oxygen in the air;
  2. health damage due to radiation, high temperatures, low temperatures, ultrasonic waves, noises or vibration;
  3. health damage due to operations such as gauge monitoring;
  4. health damage due to waste fluid or solid wastes; or
  5. danger relating to places where there is danger of employees falling down or of land collapse.

Other than the ISHA, employers also have to comply with multiple guidelines published by the government.

Netherlands

Netherlands

The Working Conditions Act (Arbeidsomstandighedenwet) prescribes the rights and obligations of employers and employees in relation to working conditions. This legislation applies in all circumstances where work is carried out and other further (statutory) rules apply. The Act applies to the working conditions at construction sites.

The Buildings Decree (Bouwbesluit) prescribes the minimum construction requirements that all structures in the Netherlands must meet. These requirements concern safety, health, usefulness, energy efficiency and the environment. In addition, all municipalities apply additional rules in building regulations. These rules differ between municipalities.

Nigeria

Nigeria

There are statutory provisions that provide for health and safety in buildings whether during construction or after completion. The minimum legal requirements relating primarily to health safety and welfare of the workforce which must be taken into account in planning and execution of construction works are specified under regulations provided in laws such as the Labour Act, the Factories Act, Cap F1, the Employees Compensation Act, and the National Building Code, 2006.

The health and safety rules and regulations prescribed under the relevant statutes do not only regulate health and safety in the construction process, they also stipulate minimum standards for the use of the developments after the construction. The Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund Management Board implements the Employees Compensation Act which makes provisions for compensation in cases of death, injuries, diseases and disability arising from employment.

The Factories Act enables the Inspectorate Department of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity to enforce minimum standards and requirements of health and safety under the Act.

There is currently a bill awaiting the assent of the President known as the Labour, Safety, Health, and Welfare Bill which seeks to repeal the Factories Act and when passed into law will provide a comprehensive Occupational Health and Safety Legislation in Nigeria.

Norway

Norway

Health and safety measures on construction sites are regulated by the Working Environment Act of 2005 and its associated regulations.

The most important provisions affecting the Norwegian construction industry, in respect of health and safety, are the regulations commonly referred to as 'the Builder Regulation' of 2009. These regulations are based on the European Council Directive 92/57/EEC on minimum safety and health requirements at temporary or mobile work sites.

The Builder Regulations of 2009 require that a written health, safety and working environment plan is created before the project is started, and kept until six months after the work is completed. The plan is custom made for each particular project, and must be easily accessible and made available to the workers at all times. This plan needs to set out the arrangements for the project, taking into account the potential risks to health and safety.

If the work is expected to exceed 30 days in duration or if the level of work is expected to exceed 500 man-days, the builder is required to give prior notice to the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority. This notice must be sent at least one week before the work starts.

When there are several different elements of work on the construction site (whether they take place at the same time or successively), the builder or project manager must appoint a 'Health and Safety co-ordinator'. The Health and Safety co-ordinator's role is to co-ordinate the project so that regulations on health and safety are followed, including the health and safety plan. In addition, the Health and Safety Co-ordinator must constantly update a list of every person who is carrying out work at the construction site.

Negligent or intentional breach of the Builder Regulation will give rise to criminal liability.

Poland

Poland

There are various statutory regulations relating to safe plant and machinery in the workplace, the provision of protective clothing and equipment, training, supervision and the maintenance of a safe working environment, the control of hazardous substances, the control of major accident hazards and fire precautions. Statutory duties give rise to criminal liability which means that an offender can be prosecuted by enforcement agencies and brought before the courts to answer alleged offences in addition to civil liability.

In accordance with Polish Building Law the building and the building facilities connected thereto shall be designed and built, taking into account the anticipated period of use, in the manner specified in the relevant legislative provisions, including technical and building regulations and principles of technical knowledge.

The building object shall be used in the manner consistent with its use and environmental protection requirements, and its appropriate technical condition and external appearance shall be maintained, protecting it against excessive deterioration of its condition and technical efficiency.

Portugal

Portugal

In Portugal, the main statutes that govern health & safety matters on construction sites are:

  • Decree No. 41821/58, of 11 August 1958, which brought into effect the General Regulations on Safety at Construction Sites
  • Decree No. 46427/65, of 10 July 1965, which brought into effect the Regulations on Temporary Premises for Construction Workers
  • Ministerial Order No. 101/96, of 4 March 1996 – Minimum Safety and Health Requirements Applicable to Construction Sites  

Decree-Law No. 273/2003, of 29 October 2003, which revised health and safety regulations on temporary and mobile construction sites, to take account of the minimum health and safety requirements required by European Council Directive 92/57/EEC. These statutes only apply to the construction of buildings, and not to their subsequent use or operation. The health and safety requirements that concern the use of a building may vary depending on its purpose (commercial, industrial or services).

Romania

Romania

In Romania, the general framework regarding health and safety on construction sites is governed by Law No. 319/2006 regarding health and safety at work and Government Decision no. 300/2006 regarding minimum health and safety standards for temporary or mobile sites, implementing Directive 89/391/EEC (the “Decision”).

The aim of the Decision is to protect construction workers by establishing various procedures, regulations and responsibilities in order to ensure construction quality. The Decision imposes an obligation on the project manager to assign a coordinator and to prepare a health and safety plan.

In addition, there are several pieces of legislation that provide for specific rules and regulations in specific areas (eg asbestos or noise).

Russia

Russia

Health and safety on construction sites is governed by technical regulations, Federal laws and health and safety codes which set down requirements for the organisation of the construction site, protective clothing and equipment, methods of construction etc.

Any harm to health arising as a result of breach of the technical regulations on safety during construction works must be compensated by the entity that performed the works.

Slovak Republic

Slovak Republic

In the Slovak Republic, the fundamental legislation is the Health and Safety Act by means of which the Council Directive of 12 June 1989 89/391/EEC on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work has been implemented. The general principle of the Health and Safety Act is to prevent damage to the health of workers at work. Furthermore, the employer must appoint a number of employees' safety representatives (the number of representatives depends upon the number of employees).

With regard to the safety of buildings, the Health and Safety Act stipulates a number of general requirements. In particular, it requires that the technical documentation for buildings shall include requirements for ensuring safety and protection of health at work during the preparation, construction, re-building and the building's future operation. Furthermore, the technical documentation has to contain an operating instruction for safe use and maintenance and conditions for executing controls and inspections.

Further matters on the health and safety of buildings are regulated in subordinate legislation (such as in governmental decrees No. 391/2006 Coll., 392/2006 Coll. and 396/2006 Coll., which govern the minimum safety requirements).

The obligations of the employer (contractor) in the field of health and safety shall terminate as of the handover of the work.

Spain

Spain

Law 31/1995, of 8 November, on the Prevention of Risks at Work sets out, among other things, that companies must have 1) a risk prevention plan, 2) a risk evaluation and 3) an emergency plan. Companies are obliged to provide their employees with information and training on health and safety issues, and carrying out periodical medical checks on them.

In addition, there are various statutory regulations setting out specific obligations relating to the supervision and maintenance of a safe working environment, noise in the workplace, measures relating to pregnant employees, etc.

The most important regulations on health and safety issues in the construction industry are the following:

  • Decree Law 1627/1997 of 24 October, providing for minimum health and safety requirements applicable to construction works: this lays down, for instance:
    • An obligation to appoint a 'coordinator' on health and safety issues, who must supervise the coordination and organisation of the carrying out of the works by the various companies undertaking them
    • An obligation to draft a number of reports on health and safety issues
    • An obligation on all companies undertaking the works to prepare a health and safety plan which must analyse the risks inherent in the works and provide for preventative measures, or
    • The obligation to keep at the site a 'Incident Book' (Libro de Incidencias), aimed at checking compliance with the health and safety plan
  • Law 32/2006, of 18 October, governing outsourcing within the construction industry: this law sets out certain obligations for those companies which act as contractors or subcontractors in the construction industry; all with the aim of improving conditions at work and the protection of employee health and safety. In this regard, for instance, the law states that those companies which act as contractors at a construction site:
    • Must have their own equipment and means to carry out the works
    • Must assume the risks inherent in the exercise of a commercial activity, and
    • Must actually behave towards sub-contractors as if they were actually the employer

      This law also states that these companies must be registered in a special register, that a 'Sub-contracting Book' (Libro de Subcontratación) must be available at every construction site and that the possibility sub-contracting the carrying on of activities is limited.
  • Finally, Decree Law 171/2004 of 30 January sets out certain specific obligations aimed at coordinating the health and safety activities that must be complied with by companies who share a workplace. These obligations also apply to companies working at the same construction site.

Whilst Decree Law 1627/1997 and Law 32/2006 apply only while the construction is being undertaken, the obligations set out under Law 31/1995 and Decree Law 171/2004 must be complied with after the construction is completed.

Finally, it is also worth noting that an infraction of the obligations contained in these regulations may give rise to the imposition of severe sanctions of an administrative nature. Likewise, companies and their managers may be found liable under administrative, civil or even criminal law regimes.

Sweden

Sweden

Under the Working Environment Act (Arbetsmiljölagen) and the Building Act (Plan-och Bygglagen) the employer is responsible for coordinating measures to protect the workers on the construction site from illness and accidents.

The act does not apply in relation to the use of the development after the construction works are completed.

Thailand

Thailand

In particular, the Building Control Act (BCA) stipulates the application process for a building construction permit, restrictions on the construction of the building, safety, fire protection and various other matters. The BCA therefore must be carefully considered by developers or contractors before commencing the construction of a building.

United Arab Emirates - Abu Dhabi

United Arab Emirates - Abu Dhabi

Health and safety laws and requirements are governed by both the federal law of the UAE and the law of the emirate of Abu Dhabi. The principal law governing entities and employees is Federal Law (8) of 1980 as amended (‘Labour Law’). In addition various Decisions of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs are also relevant.

The Labour Law and Ministerial Decisions set out the main standards suitable for occupational health and safety and imposes obligations on both the employer and the employee. An example of these obligations is the obligation on the employer to display the health and safety requirements on site in a prominent position and in the language of the employees. Training must be conducted on the dangers of not complying with the instructions as well as other general preventative measures to be taken.

The Labour Law needs to be taken into consideration after the completion of construction. The obligations under it are ongoing.

In addition to the federal law, Abu Dhabi has recently passed legislation which initiates the Environmental Health and Safety Management System (EHSMS) for the emirate. This system is to be managed by the EHSMS Higher Committee, the EHSMS Centre and the Environmental Agency of Abu Dhabi and covers both environmental and health and safety policies and regulations. This system requires nominated entities to create an Environmental Health and Safety Management System to comply with the Abu Dhabi EHSMS. As part of the Abu Dhabi EHSMS, a number of regulatory instruments (including Codes of Practice) have been issued and are mandatory. The current version of the Abu Dhabi EHSMS (including the Codes of Practice) is available on the official website of the Abu Dhabi EHSMS Centre.

United Arab Emirates - Dubai

United Arab Emirates - Dubai

Health and safety laws and requirements are governed by both the federal law of the UAE and the law of the emirate of Dubai. The principal law governing entities and employees in relation to health and safety is the Labour Law. In addition, various Decisions of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs are also relevant.

The Labour Law and Ministerial Decisions set out the main standards suitable for occupational health and safety and imposes obligations on both the employer and the employee. An example of these obligations is the obligation on the employer to display the health and safety requirements on site in a prominent position and in the language of the employees. Training must be conducted on the dangers of not complying with the instructions as well as other general preventative measures to be taken.

The Labour Law needs to be taken into consideration after the completion of construction.

In addition to the federal law, Dubai has additional codes of practice, circulars and technical decisions relating to specific environmental and occupational health and safety issues. These are very specific and are issued by Dubai Municipality, JAFZA and TECOM, depending on where the construction takes place. Examples include circulars regarding asbestos and its disposal, hazardous wastes and hot working conditions.

UK - England and Wales UK - England and Wales

UK - England and Wales

In the UK, the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 is the single most important piece of legislation affecting health and safety in the workplace. There are also countless subordinate regulations that relate to safe plant and machinery in the workplace, the provision of protective clothing and equipment, training, supervision and the maintenance of a safe working environment, the control of hazardous substances, the control of major accident hazards and fire precautions and various other matters.

Statutory duties give rise to criminal liability; this means an offender can be prosecuted by the enforcement agencies and brought before the courts to answer alleged offences in addition to civil liability in tort (ie the law that addresses, and provides remedies for, civil wrongs not arising out of contractual obligations).

The most important health and safety regulations are the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015, commonly referred to as ‘the CDM Regulations’. These transpose, into UK law, European directives on the implementation of minimum requirements at temporary and mobile work sites and therefore include construction sites.

The CDM Regulations require two documents to be created: first, a ‘construction phase plan’ which needs to be maintained throughout the duration of the construction work on site (until completion of the project) and, second, a ‘health and safety file’. This plan needs to detail the health and safety arrangements on site for the project. The health and safety file’ needs to contain all information relating to the structure ‘as built’ and must be available to all future owners and occupiers and contractors who carry out work on the structure. It is, therefore, the more important of the two documents as it relates to use of the development after construction has been completed.

The regulations impose duties on clients procuring construction work to appoint a ‘principal designer’ (who performs a statutory health and safety management role) and a ‘principal contractor’ (almost always the main building contractor) for any project. The principal designer’s role is to co-ordinate all health and safety aspects of the project and, specifically, to create, update and then hand over the health and safety file (at completion). The principal contractor is responsible for the construction phase plan that details the rules regarding the site with guidance and directions to other contractors.

Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, widespread system reform to building safety regulation has been proposed, including a new, more effective regulatory framework and the establishment of a single-building safety regulator to oversee the new regulatory regime for buildings.

As a result of these proposed reforms, the dutyholders identified under the CDM Regulations will acquire additional responsibilities for ensuring compliance with building regulations, including co-operating and sharing information with the building safety regulator, and producing a ‘fire and emergency file’ and a ‘construction control plan’.  These documents will form part of a ‘golden thread’ of information which will be used both during design and construction, but also occupation, to ensure the safety of buildings.

UK - Scotland

UK - Scotland

In the UK, the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 is the single most important piece of legislation affecting health and safety in the workplace. In addition, there are various statutory regulations (sub‑ordinate legislation enacted pursuant to powers granted under statutes) relating to safe plant and machinery in the workplace, the provision of protective clothing and equipment, training, supervision and the maintenance of a safe working environment, the control of hazardous substances, the control of major accident hazards and fire precautions. Statutory duties give rise to criminal liability which means that an offender can be prosecuted by the enforcement agencies and brought before the courts to answer alleged offences in addition to civil liability in delict (ie the law that addresses, and provides remedies for, civil wrongs not arising out of contractual obligations).

The most important regulations affecting the UK construction industry are the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015, commonly referred to as “the CDM Regulations”. These Regulations transpose into UK law the European Council Directive 92/57/EEC on the implementation of minimum safety and health requirements at temporary or mobile work sites.

The CDM Regulations require two documents to be created: first, a 'construction phase plan' which needs to be maintained throughout the duration of the construction work on site (until completion of the project) and, second, a 'health and safety file'. This plan needs to detail the health and safety arrangements on site for the project. The health and safety file" needs to contain all information relating to the structure 'as built' and must be available to all future owners and occupiers and contractors who carry out work on the structure. It is, therefore, the more important of the two documents as it relates to use of the development after construction has been completed.

The regulations impose duties on clients procuring construction work to appoint a 'principal designer' (who performs a statutory health and safety management role) and a 'principal contractor' (almost always the main building contractor) for any project. The principal designer's role is to co-ordinate all health and safety aspects of the project and, specifically, to create, update and then hand over the health and safety file (at completion). The principal contractor is responsible for the construction phase plan that details the rules regarding the site with guidance and directions to other contractors.

Ukraine

Ukraine

General issues and concepts for health and safety on construction sites are determined in Ukraine by the Law of Ukraine ‘On the Protection of Labour’ No. 2694-XII, dated 14 October 1992 and the Law of Ukraine ‘On the Approval of the National Initiative for the Improvement of the State of Safety, in the Construction, Health and Manufacturing Sectors for 2014-2018’ No. 178-VII, dated 4 April 2013 (the Initiative). The Initiative envisages that Ukrainian legislation in the sphere of health and safety protection should be brought into compliance with EU regulations and contains general guidelines to be followed in order to achieve this. More specific rules are laid down in regulations, eg State Construction Regulations or State Sanitary Regulations. It should be noted that important international conventions on health and safety in construction (eg Convention of International Organization of Labour No. 167, dated 20 June 1988 on Safety and Construction Health) have still not been ratified by Ukraine.

Depending on the designated use of a building (eg an industrial facility) some rules relating to health and safety may be applicable to the operation of that building after completion of the construction works.

United States

United States

The main agency in charge of enforcing federal safety and health legislation is the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) in the US Department of Labor. Congress created OSHA to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance.

The regulations and safety standards, known as the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (‘Act’), regulate health and safety in the workplace. Some of the areas addressed by the Act with respect to construction are:

  • alarms
  • barriers
  • blasting and explosives
  • concrete and masonry construction
  • criteria for spray booths
  • demolition
  • disposal of waste
  • electrical wiring
  • elevated surfaces
  • emergency planning
  • excavations and collapses
  • exposure monitoring
  • fall protection
  • floor and wall openings
  • gases, fumes, dust and mists
  • hazard communication
  • head and other personal protection
  • industrial trucks (eg cranes, forklifts)
  • ladders and stairways
  • lead
  • medical surveillance
  • noise reduction
  • safe construction methods
  • scaffolding
  • signage
  • steel erection
  • tunnels and shafts
  • ventilation, and
  • worker training

In addition, the federal Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH) has been in place almost 40 years to focus on construction standards and policy matters affecting federally-financed or assisted construction.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also is charged with protecting human health and the environment and has promulgated many requirements and protections for the safety of workers on construction sites as well as those occupying buildings after construction. To name just a few, regulations include the discovery, handling, and remediating of hazardous materials on a site, the kinds of materials used in construction, pollution prevention, providing for storm water and drainage, and sustainability guidelines.

Both OSHA and EPA regulations address workers constructing buildings and occupying buildings. In addition to OSHA and the EPA, which are federal, most states also have enacted safety regulations. Safety regulations also can be and are promulgated at regional and local levels through codes, ordinances, rules, and regulations by other governing bodies.

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe

Health and safety rules are guided by a number of statutes. The main acts to be observed in terms of health and safety in construction works are the Labour Act [Chapter 28.01], the National Social Security Authority Act [Chapter 17.04], Factories and Works Act [Chapter 14.08] Environmental Management Act [Chapter 20:27], the Pneumonoconiosis Act [Chapter 15:08].

  • The Labour Act contains stipulations in favour of the health and safety of workers, ie no employer shall require any employee to work under any conditions or situations which are below those prescribed by law or by the conventional practice of the occupation for the protection of such employee’s health or safety.
  • The National Social Security Authority Act [Chapter 17:04] Accident Prevention and Workers’ Compensation Notice No.6 of 1990 seeks to cater for workers’ needs in case of accidents occurring at the construction site.
  • The Environmental Management Act [Chapter 20.27] emphasizes sustainable development and prohibits the discharge and disposal of waste without a waste license. It goes on to set standards of noise pollution and lists some offences relating to pesticides and toxic substances.
  • The Pneumonoconiosis Act [Chapter 15:08] prohibits the employment of workers in dusty occupation who suffer from penumonoconiosis (respiratory disease).

There are also some specific rules that govern the use of land and buildings, depending on the nature of the structure and the permitted use of the land. An example would be restrictions on the use of land and water in the vicinity of aerodromes. In general, local authorities have adopted the Model Use and Occupation of Land and Buildings By-laws while city councils have adopted Public Health By-laws which regulate the permitted uses of land and buildings within their jurisdiction.