As reported in many trade journals, the Health and Safety Executive and the Building Control Alliance have signed an agreement to work more closely to improve health and safety standards on construction sites. The arrangement means that the HSE and building control professionals will co-operate to help and support each other by providing health and safety advice to on-site builders in London.
Philip White, HSE’s chief inspector of construction, was quoted as saying “Today’s agreement does not change a duty holder’s responsibility to protect workers health and safety, but has created another opportunity to get potentially life-saving advice to those responsible for health and safety standards on construction sites.” Meanwhile Diane Marshall, group head of building control at NHBC, was equally as gushing -“Building Control professionals are ideally placed to raise awareness of health and safety issues on construction sites during the course of their inspections. This agreement creates a mechanism for Building Control professionals to discharge their professional duty of care in a simple and straightforward manner by working closely with our HSE colleagues.”
However, builders in London, although keen to make any health and safety improvements in their industry were not so enthusiastic about the proposals. Commenting in the online builder.co.uk magazine, Colin McNeil wrote –
“Great, another feather in the cap for the great and good who govern Building Control, when was the last time that any of these people went on site? So as a Building Control Surveyor you are supposed to have good technical knowledge of Structures and structural stability, have a intimate knowledge of fire safety and means of escape, thermal performance and CO2 emissions and access into and around buildings for people with disabilities, a comprehensive knowledge of damp protection and prevention of water ingress, methods of preventing sound transfer, drainage systems and knowledge of staircases and guardings. Together with a good knowledge of boiler systems and building services generally, Then there are the requirements to check planning conditions etc all this for the generous salary of about £30000 to £35000 a year. (sic)”
It does seem to be that building control surveyors already have enough on their plates, and with three new sets of building regulations coming into force this week will find it difficult to integrate health and safety regulations into their already overloaded schedules. Maybe Mr White and Ms Marshall should get their patent leather shoes out of their ivory towers and have a look at what actually goes on at ground level.