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The perfect guide to follow when you start a construction project to make sure it deals with regulation changes that come into effect in August 2015

by , 19 May 2015
There are several steps you should follow when you start a construction project. And this should be done while taking into consideration the regulation changes that apply from August 2015.

From planning the project, to preparing the health and safety specification and establishing the duties of the principal contractor and contractors, there are many steps you should follow. And they are all included in the following guide.

Steps to take when starting a construction project

Step #1: Plan the project and appoint an agent (Construction Regulation 5)

Keep in mind that when you're planning your project, you have to decide whether to appoint an agent with full or part control. Note that the agent must advise you on the health and safety requirements you'll have to address during the design  phase of the project. You, or your agent, will also be responsible and accountable for the management of  health and safety of the project.

Moreover, make sure your agent is competent. After August 2015, you can only do this by asking your agent for his SACPCMP registration certificate.

Step #2: Prepare the Health and Safety Specification

You must do a base-line risk assessment using the input from your agent and designers.Your principal contractor can use this base-line risk assessment to do his task specific risk assessment.

Based on the risk assessment, you must develop a  Health and Safety Specification for the entire project.

You must send this document to everyone who is tendering or quoting on your project (ConstructionRegulation 5(1)(b)).

Designers (architect, structural engineer, etc.) must consider your Health and Safety Specification as well (Construction Regulation 6(1)(b)).

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Step #3: Prepare the Health and Safety Plan

At this point, the company tendering must attach its proposed Health and Safety Plan to the tender documents. They must budget for the cost of complying with the health and safety requirements of your health and safety specification in their tender (Construction Regulation7(1)(a)(b))).

You must evaluate the health and safety plan, and discuss it with the contractor, and change it where necessary. Once you're happy with the health and safety plan, you must approve it forimplementation and can award the tender. (Construction Regulation 5(1)(h)).

Moreover, you must, if required, apply for a construction permit – Construction regulations - Annexure 1 (applicable only from August 2015). If you don't need a permit, the principalcontractor must complete a notification form called Construction Regulations – Annexure 2 (depending on the size of the project).

He must send this to the Department of Labour. Only then can your construction work start.

Keep a copy of the completed Construction Regulations – Annexure 1 or 2 form on site (Construction Regulation 3 and 4 ).

Step #4: Draw up an agreement between yourself, or your agent, and the principal contractor (Section 37(2) of OHSA)

If you're employing the contractor to perform construction work, then you're responsible and accountable for the acts and omissions of your employees (including mandatories/contractors).

Unless you and the contractor agree how the contractor will comply with the requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Act

TIP: You don't legally need this agreement. But if you don't agree with the principal contractor how they will comply with the Act and regulations, you'll be held accountable for all their actions.

Step #5: Show proof of compensation and competency

The principal contractor must show proof of good standing with the Commissioner of the  ompensation for Occupational Injury and Diseases Act. He can do this by getting a registration certificate and/or letter of good standing from the Commissioner.

Note that you must assess the principal contractor's competency.

You can do this by:
•  Looking at the proposed Health and Safety Plan;
•  Ensuring that they have budgeted enough for Health and Safety; and
•  Assess the level of competence. He must at least 'have the knowledge, training, experience and qualifications specific to the work or task' (Construction Regulations 2014, Regulation 1 ).

Step #6: Duties of the principal contractor and contractors

The principal contractors must:
•  Keep a list of all contractors on site. Keep this list in your Health and Safety file (Construction Regulation7(1)(f));
•  Ensure they are competent to do the work (Construction Regulation 7(1)(c)(iii));
•  Give each contractor a Health and Safety Specification for the work they must do; and
•  Get proof of competence from each contractor. And get a documented Health and Safety Plan.

The system flows down from the client to the principal contractor and in turn to the other contractors (Construction Regulation 7(3)). For example if a principal contractor uses contractors, he must make sure the contractors are competent. If the contractor uses sub-contractors, then the contractor must make sure that all his sub-contractors are competent.

Step #7: Supervise all construction work

Your Principal Contractors must appoint a full-time, competent person to manage the work. They may appoint assistants to help the manager and supervisors for various parts of the project (Construction Regulation 8(1), 8(2 (8(7) ).

Contractors must appoint full-time employees to assist the supervisors. They may also appoint a full- or part- time health and safety officer (Construction Regulation8(5)).Clients and Principal Contractors must arrange for audits to be done of the other contractor's work (ConstructionRegulation 5(1)(o) and 7(1)(c)(vii)). It's your responsibility to advise the principal contractor and contractor of any changes to specifications and scope of work (Construction Regulation 5(2)).

Step #8: Administration and training

The contractors should:

•  Elect Health and Safety Representatives who are full-time employees and familiar with the workplace (OHSA Section 18).
•  Hold regular Health and Safety meetings. Keep minutes (OHSA Section 19).
•  Provide information, instruction and site-specific health and safety induction training to all employees. Employees must carry proof of this on site with them. Such proof could be in the form of a letter,card, identity badge or something similar (OHSASection 8(2)(e) and Construction Regulation 7(5)).
•  Provide health and safety training to all visitors entering the site. File proof of this in a health and safety file. Proof could take the form of an indemnity agreement (Construction Regulation 7(6)).
•  Arrange medical and other tests where required (Construction Regulations 7(8)).

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