HSE ‘backtracks’ on CDM ACoP

The current ACoP to CDM 2007, L144: Managing Health and Safety in Construction, will be withdrawn on 6 April when the 2015 regulations come into force.

Speaking at a meeting of the Construction Industry Advisory Committee (CONIAC) earlier this month, Anthony Lees, the HSE’s head of construction policy, told members that the regulator was considering how to proceed and the option of a “guidance only” approach was still on the table.

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ACoPs have a special legal status because courts can refer to them in deciding whether a dutyholder met their obligations under the associated regulations. The HSE’s L series guidance does not have the same status.

“I am not sitting here in front of you, saying there will not be an ACoP, that wouldn’t be appropriate at this stage,” said Lees. “But we need to think seriously about our options. What is the justification for keeping the ACoP?”

He said there were at least four options open to the regulator: a “guidance only” approach with no approved code; a “minimalist” ACoP; an ACoP that closely resembled the L series guidance published in draft form last month; an ACoP based on the model used for L148: Safety in Docks, which is a concise ACoP containing “signposts” directing dutyholders to other guidance.

“We will have to consider all these options, and probably more,” said Lees. “There would be huge flexibility gains to a ‘guidance only’ approach and it would be easier to take a sectorial approach.”

He said the HSE would be writing to CONIAC members to outline its plans over the next few weeks and would then talk to members individually and “what we do will be determined by the response.”

Dylan Roberts, representing the UK Contractors Group at the meeting, and Peter Wilson from the UCATT construction union, both said they would support the retention of an ACoP in some form.

When the HSE first consulted on the revisions to CDM, it proposed replacing the ACoP with a suite of industry guidance, arguing that the ACoP created more problems than it solved because there was a tendency for dutyholders to over-interpret it. But this was strongly opposed in the public consultation, with only 32% of respondents agreeing that the ACoP should be withdrawn.

After the findings of the CDM consultation were presented to the HSE Board at a meeting last August, the Board agreed to produce a concise ACoP “provided it would add value”.

The regulator is now questioning the value of an approved code, said Lees. “At the moment, the justification most dutyholders use for keeping an ACoP is that it gives them a sense of security, and that they can take it to their senior managers and use it to get support that they wouldn’t otherwise get. Is that enough of a justification?”

He said that even if the regulator decided to go ahead with an ACoP after consulting with CONIAC members, it would be at least a year before it could be published, because of the various approvals it would need to pass through beforehand. “We would have to start writing the ACoP tomorrow, and we think it might be better to let CDM 2015 embed, give people six months to get used to it,” he said.

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Source: Health and Safety at Work

Post date: 30 Mar 2015

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