Building Health and Safety

When it comes to the construction and operation of buildings in the UK, there are a number of risks that present themselves. Consequently, it is essential that Health and Safety regulations are obeyed, as they are integral to keeping everyone safe and preventing injuries or in the worst-case scenario, death.

As a result, if you commissioning, operating, designing, or constructing a building and even scaffolding in South London or elsewhere throughout the UK, there are number of duties that you need to adhere to when it comes to health and safety, as well as legislation that must be followed. Some of these regulations, particularly pertinent to scaffolding, that fall under Health and Safety at Work Act include:

  • The Work at Height Regulations
  • The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations
  • The Manual Handling Operations
  • The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations
  • The Control of Noise at Work Regulations

What is the Health and Safety Work Act?

This is the most prominent form of health and safety legislation in the UK established in 1974 (also known as HSWA, HASAWA and the HSW Act) that ensures the occupational health and safety of those in the UK, meaning that employers must protect the safety of all their employees as well as those on the building or construction site. This includes visitors, clients or the general public.

Different sections of the act also ensure the following:

  • Section 2 ensures that employers ensures the health and safety of its employees as much as reasonably possible.
  • Section 5 makes it a duty for all premises to be safe and free from relative risk to health
  • Section 7 and 8 enshrines by law that employers have a duty of reasonable care
  • Section 38 means that directors and managers will end up personally liable for neglect that leads to an offence under the act.

Any failure to comply with the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 is a criminal offence in the UK. The penalty could be a prison sentence of up to two years, or an unspecified fine. Sometimes, this may be both.

Construction Design and Management Regulations 2015

These regulations are applicable to you if you are performing or having construction work carried out on your own home, or a family member’s home (not in connection with any business-related activities). Construction (Design and Management Regulations) 2015, otherwise known as CDM 2015, applies to any construction work in the UK.

Certain construction work, such as those undertaken through trade or as a business, may need to notify the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) before carrying out work.

The CDM regulations impose health and safety duties on the client, designers, principal designer, contractors and workers.

When Must I Notify HSE About Construction Work?

You must inform the Health and Safety Executive if:

  • The construction works due to take place is expected to last more than 30 days, and you anticipate having at least 20 workers on site on the project at any given time
  • The work is expected to take at least 500 days to complete

If there is a failure to comply with health and safety legislation, the Fee for Intervention allows the Health and Safety Executive to collect the costs of having to intervene. This was introduced in 2012, allowing the HSE to charge companies who are found to be guilty of safety breaches.


A material breach of law is charged at around £124 per hour, and is calculated based on the amount of time it takes to identify a breach, as well the time it takes to solve the issue, meaning that the total numbers of hours charged can end up a considerable amount.

You may also have to adhere to requirements as part of the Building Regulations on top of CDM regulations. These include:

  • Part A: structural safety
  • Part B: fire safety
  • Part K: protection from falling
  • Part N: glazing safety
  • Part P: electrical safety