Memorandum by Health and Safety Executive
1.1 As part of its inquiry, the Urban Affairs
Sub-Committee of the Transport, Local Government and Regions Committee
has invited the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to comment on
certain issues. These include: health and safety standards for
tall buildings; standards for evacuation times; whether some of
the problems faced as a result of the attack on the World Trade
Centre on 11 September would be repeated here; and details of
the recent practice evacuation of Canary Wharf.
1.2 This memorandum sets out HSE's responsibilities
that have a bearing on the structural safety of buildings that
are used as workplaces. These apply to all buildings and there
are no specific requirements in health and safety legislation
covering tall buildings.
1.3 HSE's involvement in these issues is
restricted to the protection of health and safety of those at
work and those effected by work activities under the Health and
Safety at Work, etc, Act 1974 (HSWA) and associated health and
safety regulations. HSWA places duties on employers to ensure,
so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare
of their employees while at work. The Act also places a general
duty on employers and the self employed to conduct their undertakings
in a way that ensures, so far as is reasonably practicable, that
people other than their employees are not exposed to risks to
their health and safety.
1.4 This includes matters relating to the
safe construction, use and demolition of structures but does not
extend to building control and evacuation procedures. HSE was
not therefore involved in the recent Canary Wharf evacuation exercise.
These issues fall largely to the Department of Transport, Local
Government and the Regions (DTLR) which has responsibility for
the Building Regulations and general fire safety legislation.
However, HSE works with DTLR to ensure a co-ordinated approach
2. THE CONSTRUCTION
2.1 The Construction (Design and Management)
Regulations 1994 (CDM), which came into force in 1995, are intended
to protect the health and safety of people working in construction
and others who may be affected by their activities. CDM does not
contain any explicit requirements for tall buildings. But it does
place explicit duties on designers, including the need to design
structures that are safe to construct, maintain and demolish.
If this is not properly addressed at the design stage, it may
be impossible to put it right latercausing substantial
additional costs, for example, because expensive access equipment
2.2 A revised Approved Code of Practice
and guidance on CDM has just been published. This stresses that
designers must identify risks, eliminate them or, failing that,
reduce them, and provide key information for safe construction,
maintenance and demolition. Clearly, therefore, designers need
to understand the practical implications of their designs.
2.3 In the spring Health and Safety Commission
plans to publish a Discussion Document on the future for construction
health and safety. This will be an opportunity for people to express
views on possible changes to CDM and to provide other non-legislative
ideas for improving health and safety in construction and the
links with the Building Regulations.
3.1 More specific regulations place duties
on employers and landlords in relation to the maintenance of the
workplace. For example, the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare)
Regulations 1992 place implicit duties on employers to ensure
the solidity and stability of the workplace through maintenance.
HSE are currently consulting on proposals which include a proposal
to make this duty explicit in order to ensure implementation of
the European Commission Workplace Directive.
4.1 The Management of Health and Safety
at Work Regulations 1999, require employers to undertake a risk
assessments to identify any significant and foreseeable risks
to health and safety and, as a result of duties placed includes
the measures needed to ensure that evacuation plans prepared under
fire safety legislation are not compromised.
5. ENFORCEMENT OF
5.1 HSWA and the supporting legislation
is enforced by both HSE and Local Authority inspectors following
agreed parameters of proportionality, consistency, targeting and