Planning for construction work

Who is responsible?

  • The client must make suitable arrangements for managing their project, enabling those carrying it out to manage health and safety risks in a proportionate way.
  • A principal designer must plan, manage, monitor and coordinate health and safety during the pre-construction phase (design and planning stage) of a project involving, or likely to involve, more than one contractor.
  • A principal contractor must plan, manage, monitor and coordinate health and safety during the construction phase of a project involving, or likely to involve, more than one contractor.
  • A contractor must plan, manage and monitor all work carried out by themselves and their workers.

Early appointment of the principal contractor

The principal contractor should be appointed by the client early enough in the pre-construction phase to allow them to work closely with the client, and in any event before the construction phase begins.  This will also give the principal contractor time to work and liaise with the principal designer in sharing any relevant information for health and safety.

As the project moves from the pre-construction phase into the construction phase, the principal contractor should take the lead in planning, managing, monitoring and coordinating health and safety, while continuing to liaise with the client and principal designer.

Construction phase plan

A construction phase plan must be prepared for a project before the construction phase begins.  The plan must outline the health and safety arrangements, site rules and specific measures concerning any work involving the risks listed in Schedule 3 of the CDM 2015 Regulations.  

Planning the construction phase and drawing up a construction phase plan is the responsibility of:

  • The principal contractor for projects involving more than one contractor; and
  • The contractor for single contractor projects.

Pre-construction information and any key design information, identifying risks that need to be managed during construction work, will be helpful in planning the construction phase and drawing up the construction phase plan.

Planning the work

Gathering as much health and safety information about the project and the proposed site before work begins is important.

Information available at tendering should be used so that allowance is made for the time and resources required to deal with problems.  Sources of information include:

  • the client;
  • the design team;
  • contract documents;
  • the main contractors for the site;
  • specialist contractors and consultants;
  • trade and contractor organisations;
  • equipment and material suppliers; and
  • HSE guidance and British or European Standards.

Find out about the history of the site and its surroundings.  See if there are any unusual features which might affect the work, or how the work will affect others.  Pay attention to:

  • asbestos or other contaminants;
  • overhead power lines and underground services;
  • unusual ground conditions;
  • public rights of way across the site;
  • nearby schools, footpaths, roads or railways; and
  • other activities going on at or close by to the site.

Much of this information may be found in the pre-construction information provided by the client, including health and safety files that may exist from any previous construction work at the site.  Make sure contents from such files and documents have been taken into account before tenders are submitted.

When estimating costs and preparing the programme of work, consider any health and safety hazards associated with the work.  Make sure suitable allowances have been made in the price.

The job will have a better chance of running more smoothly, efficiently and profitably if hazards have been predicted, planned for and controlled from the outset.  Having to stop or reschedule work to deal with emergencies wastes time and money.

When materials are bought, or equipment is hired, the supplier has a duty to provide certain health and safety information.  Make sure this is obtained and understood.  It may be necessary to:

  • consider using a specialist who is familiar with the necessary precautions;
  • carry out an assessment of the health risks arising from substances or equipment; and
  • act on your findings e.g. by eliminating harmful substances where possible, or by using a less hazardous method of work or providing training on the safe use of the material or equipment.

When programmes of work are prepared, consider whether there are any operations that will affect the health or safety of others working at the site.  For example:

  • think about access to the workplace – which trades will need to go where and when?
  • arrange the work to make sure everyone who needs to use a scaffold or other means of access has time to do so - plan to make sure the access will be safe and suitable for their use;
  • timber treatment or site radiography usually has to be done when no one else is on site and the site may have to be left vacant for a few days; 
  • where a specialist contractor is used, check the requirements with them and programme the work well in advance.

Discuss proposed working methods with contractors before letting contracts.  Find out how they are going to work, what equipment and facilities they are expecting to be provided and the equipment they will bring to the site.  Identify any health or safety risks their operations may create for others working at the site and agree control measures.  Obtaining health and safety risk assessments and method statements will help.

Decide what plant will be required and check that it will be suitable. 

Plan material deliveries and consider storage needs. 

Plan your emergency and rescue procedures.  Decide what equipment will be required and who is trained to operate it.

Is this page useful?