Constructions sites are generally complex and sometimes it is unsafe. In UK Construction industry can be called as one of the biggest industry, as it consist of over 300,000 firms and it employing around 2.1 million people (Construction, 2010). Construction industry is having around 9% of the total employment in the UK (Construction Safety Management). Construction industry is still one of the most dangerous workplaces because of high rate of accidents. “A construction worker is 100 times more likely to die of work related ill-health than from an accident”. According to Sir John Egan written in his report, Rethinking Construction (1998) stated that “the health and safety record of construction is the second worst of any industry”. And the report future suggested that “accidents can amount for 4 to 6 per cent of the of the total project cost” (Howarth and Watson, 2009). Health and safety within an organization is often coordinated by a particular person, but it is the responsibility of all employees. Maintaining a safe working environment and safe working practices and ensuring that employees’ health is not detrimentally affected by their work is a statutory duty of organizations (bnet.com, 2011).Good health and safety at work is not only important in human terms, but it is also one of the most effective ways to ensure that the enterprises are successful and sustainable.
Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974
The beginnings of industrial revolution bring with it a broad range of different working practices and types of activities. Workers are stimulated from the fields to large factories and workshops. These changes in the working pattern bring with them additional risks to the health and safety of the workers. Therefore at the start of the 19th century a small amount of protections for workers and inadequate legal intervention developed but this could not helps for slow down the rate of health and safety issues. It was only at the start of 20th century the new and modern health and safety legislation developed. In the year 1972 the Roben’s report came into existence. This report recognised the division of health and safety law and suggested a new and dynamic ways to dealing with health and safety obligations. The report mainly put importance on the safety of public and the people at work. The report completely changed the scenario of health and safety legislation and formed the basis of several new acts and regulations like Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, CDM Regulation 2007 and Construction health and safety welfare regulations.
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The Health and safety at Work Act 1974 included the majority of the Roben’s recommendations and produced the most wide-ranging health and safety legislation. The acts introduce first time a comprehensive and included system dealing with work place health and safety and the protection of public from the work activities (Holt, 2001). The act consolidated some existing legislation and provided the basis for future secondary legislation.
The Act defines general duties on employers, employees, contractors, suppliers of goods and substances for use at work, persons in control of work premises, and those who manage and maintain them, and persons in general. It recognized a system of public supervision through aids the creation of the Health and Safety Commission (HSC) and Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and bestow extensive enforcement powers. Additional, the Act provides a critical interface on workplace health and safety (ANON, 2011).
Part 1 Health, Safety and Welfare in connection with the work includes Preliminary, General duties, The Health and Safety Commission (HSC) and The Health and Safety Executives, Health and Safety regulations and approved codes of practice, Enforcement, Obtaining and disclosure of information, Special provision relating towards the agriculture, Offences, Financial provisions and Miscellaneous and supplementary.
Part 2 deals with the Employment medical advisory service includes Functions and responsibilities for maintaining, employment medical advisory service.
Part 3 deals with the Building Regulations and Amendment of Building (Soctland) Act 1959 in which Amendments relating towards the building regulations.
Part 4 deals with the Miscellaneous and general provisions. (Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974)
The Health and safety at Work Act 1974 is also divided in to 10 different Schedules and the act is also divided in the 85 different sections. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 imposes general duties on everybody connected with work. The Act contains:
The roles of Health and Safety Executive and Commission HSE/HSC provide a comprehensive body for commerce with the operation and policy. However, role of government is wide-ranging and include Legislation, Secretary of State for Education and Employment- Appoints Chair HSC and director HSE and can make regulations and code of practice. The HSC and HSE were recognized by section 10 of HASAWA. The HSC has a full time chair and is made up of members who correspond to employers and employees and also related organisations which promote objectives of HASAWA, undertake research, offers training, information and advisory committees, put proposals to ministers, approve code of practice, initiate enquiries and generate annual report. Whereas, HSE aims to ensure that everyone’s health and safety is protected from work activities and the work activities are appropriately controlled. The HSE carry out the functions of the HSC and carry out enforcement of legislation.
The CDM 2007 put Health and Safety management studies on all clients of the construction project. The regulations promote an efficient project communication and co-ordination and need the estimation and demonstration of capability. In addition the support of effective health and safety management the regulations requires the little of the ‘pre-construction information’ by the client and a ‘construction phase plan’ by the principal contractor (Howarth and Watson, 2009).
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By undertaking any new project, or a renovation project, should be aware that it may be ‘notifiable’ to the CDM Regulations. Notifiable projects are called which are more than 30 days and it involves more than 500 person-days of construction work, and any works involving demolition. The HSE must be notified of these projects, by using an F10 form. These Regulations place specific legal needs to ensure the work is carried out within the guiding principle, and that all contractors have definite skills, experience and capability to meet the Regulations requirements (ANON, 2010).
Since the mid 1990’s there has been increasing interest in the number of deaths occurring in the workplace and specially after a series of large scale disasters such as Zeebrugge a growing demand emerged for greater sanctions where companies cause death. The general criminal law failed to deal effectively with companies whose action have been the cause of disaster. Therefore there was a great requirement of a new legislation which would relate to corporate liability for involuntary manslaughter.
The new law called Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 came into force in April 2008 in order to deal with the corporate’s liability for involuntary manslaughter. The new law is enforced by the police in liaison with the Health and Safety Executives. The Act is intended to build on existing health and safety legislation and does not seek to impose new regulations on business.
The New Act will make it easier to prosecute companies, and other large organisations, in cases where gross failures in the management of health and safety have lead to death. In particular, it has reformed the law so that there is now much more prospect of medium and large companies being held liable for manslaughter in instances where they may have escaped conviction in the past. The act includes occupier’s liability as a relevant duty and also duties associated with the construction and maintenance operations. The new Act also removes Crown immunity to prosecution for such offences.
This means that any organisation whose gross negligence leads to death of one or more person may be held liable under this act. An organisation will be held liable of such type of offence if the activity managed or organised by its senior management causes a person’s death and causes a gross breach of duty of care owed by that organisation to the deceased. The Act only applies to organisation and not individuals.
Although there is no power of imprisonment associated with the Act, it will now be possible to ensure that unlimited fines are levied against organizations that cause death as a result of management failures with respect to health and safety. As well as being fined, organizations may be required to implement certain remedial actions and may also be required to publish details of their offences and the penalties implemented.
In order to have a good understanding of the concept the case of (R v. Peter Eaton and Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings Limited 2008) can be referred. In this case it was alleged that the company caused the death of an employee due to its systemic failings. The company was charged with offences under Corporate Manslaughter Act. The director of the company Mr Eaton was also held liable for gross negligence.
Now by referring to all the above Acts and regulations it can be concluded that Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 is a much generalized act. The act is very comprehensive in scope but does not provide things in depth. CDM regulation general focuses on the management of construction process. These regulations have limited scope and mainly talks about the roles and responsibility of the management (duty holders). Corporate Manslaughter Legislation mainly talks about the extreme scenario (deaths) and the act mainly applies to organisation. None of the above acts and regulation focuses on the task or operational specific aspects of the construction industry. Some of the key examples of task or operational regulations are;
Therefore the statement “The Health and Safety at Work etc Act, Construction Design Management Regulations 2007 and the Corporate Manslaughter legislation provide a comprehensive legal framework for dealing with health, safety and welfare in the construction industry” is not accurate as these act and regulation do not provide any emphasis on the task or operational regulations which plays a vital role in reducing the health, safety and welfare issues.
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