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News

Designers continue to improve their performance

HSE InfoLine : 27 June, 2005  (Company News)
The 2005 designer initiative in Scotland and Northern England has revealed that designers in the construction industry are becoming increasingly aware of their responsibilities to design out health and safety risks.
The 2005 designer initiative in Scotland and Northern England has revealed that designers in the construction industry are becoming increasingly aware of their responsibilities to design out health and safety risks.

Health and Safety Executive construction inspectors, met designers at 124 construction projects across Scotland and the North of England, to discuss how design had influenced the risks associated with work at height both during construction and the future maintenance of a building.

Rosi Edwards, Acting Chief Inspector of Construction said;

'I am very pleased to see improvements being made year on year. This is indicative of all CDM dutyholders raising their game and reflects the benefit of HSE's more proactive approach with designers, the positive influence from other CDM duty holders and the efforts of the professional bodies'

Particularly good practices identified by inspectors were:

clients, planning supervisors and principal contractors proactively engaging designers;
increased number of designers who had identified sources of training to gain practical knowledge on health and safety;
health and safety being seen by many as part and parcel of design and not an add-on;
an increase in team approaches to design; and
greater success in reducing risk through the design process.
Despite the overall improvement, poor practices continue, findings this year were:

production of vast quantities of paperwork with no useful purpose;
ineffective communication of information about residual risks - one designer was so confused as to what the residual risks were, he put down everything he could think of in the hope it would be useful to somebody;
lack of understanding of the needs of the contractor during construction and maintenance - one particularly complicated roof design required the principal contractor to erect, dismantle and re-erect the scaffold in order to complete the roof; and
the use of running lines as the main control for work at height - one designer specified a roof-mounted running line to protect those maintaining the roof; when the roof was supposed to be maintenance free. The running line required more maintenance and inspection than the roof!
It is hoped that the current consultation on the revision of CDM and the 'less is more' message will help designers move from the false comfort of producing vast quantities of untargeted and generic paperwork where key messages are hidden and even missing.

The initiative has been widely welcomed. Design practices that had previous contact with HSE through audits, initiatives, designer awareness days and site visits etc., reported it to be of positive benefit.
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