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What is a Health and Safety Specification and why do you need one?

by , 21 April 2015
When it comes to the OHSA, no aspect should be overlooked.

This is why we're tackling the issue of health and safety specification and its importance.

What is a Health and Safety Specification?


A Health and Safety Specification is a site, activity or project specific document that you must prepare with all health and safety requirements relating to construction work (Construction Regulations 2014).

This document outlines all the safety requirements you set while the construction process is ongoing. For example, working at heights. You must have a fall protection plan, a rescue plan, PPE such as harnesses, etc. You need to document all these needs in your Health and Safety Specification.

A Health and Safety Specification is an initial document. I.e. it's a work in progress. During the project, you'll make changes to the design or construction. When this happens, your principal contractor needs to have enough health and safety information and appropriate resources available so he can do the work safely (Construction Regulation 5(2)).

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Attention! Health and Safety specialists face fines imposed by the DoL!

Recently, the Department of Labour (DoL) conducted over 190,000 impromptu health and safety inspections. It even shut down a company for failing to comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).

Employers have been warned that there will be many  more inspections.  

Don't let them show up at your door unannounced.


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Here are the three reasons why must you create a Health and Safety Specification

1. The Principal Contractor can't draw up his Health and Safety Plan without your Specification, and he can't start any construction if he doesn't complete his Health and Safety Plan (Construction Regulation7(1)(a)). So basically, you can delay your whole construction project if you don't prepare your Health and Safety Specification. This can potentially lead to fines for not completing the project on time too.

2. Your Health and Safety Specification, along with your Principal Contractor's Health and Safety Plan, enables your Principal Contractor to allocate enough budget for any health and safety costs during the construction process ( Construction Regulation5(1)(g)).

3. You're responsible for health and safety. If you don't create a Health and Safety Specification, you won't be complying with the regulations and you'll be accountable if an accident happens.

Include these people when drawing up the specification.

You must also get input from:
1. Structural engineers;
2. Health and safety professional;
3. Architects; and
4. Anybody who is part of the design and construction planning.

Use the tips above and avoid any fines from labour inspectors!

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