Health & Safety for Small Builders

Small Builders are those who carry out domestic projects for private home owners or those that carry out small business projects such as refurbishment works.

With Domestic projects the builder is solely responsible for health and safety on site and with small business projects the responsibility is shared between the builder and the client.

In the UK the law does require builders to:-

  1. Manage Risks, plan and monitor the works to ensure the work is carried out safely.
  2. Inform and train the workers, tool box talks, risk reduction and assessment and the site/company rules for health and safety.
  3. Work closely and co-operate with the business client as well as the homeowners.

Small builders should not accept or bid for work that they are not fully competent and experienced in, the UK HSE states that most fatal injuries are from small domestic and business projects with falls from height being the main cause of deaths and serious injuries, these are also occurring from excavations that collapse, lifting operations, electrical shock and untrained persons using mobile plant and equipment.

To manage site risks the small builder should plan, manage and monitor the works to ensure that the site risks are controlled, they should also take measures to prevent any site access by unauthorised persons especially the public and children, suitable fencing and signage etc should be used even on small projects. In addition there must be a trained first aider and suitable first aid box available on site.

Site inductions should be carried out, these should include the site safety rules, information on the site and work risks, copies of any method statements and risk assessments should be handed out and posted plus its a good idea to use these as the basis for tool box talks. The emergency procedures should be described and posted.

Small builders are also obliged to supply suitable welfare facilities, these include toilets, access to drinking water and rest areas.

Where business clients are concerned the client should be informed by the builder how he intends to carry out the work, as well as his risk assessments and steps he would take to reduce any risks, as the business client and builder are legally required to share the health and safety responsibility, the builder should not carry out work deemed unsafe if the client requests it without attention to the risks involved, equally the client should not allow the builder to work in an unsafe manner.

The small builder should leave the sites in a safe condition at the end of the day especially if the client is a home owner and will be home after the builder has left.

A Method statement and Risk assessment pack for small builders is available HERE

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