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Involving the Workforce

CDM (GB) Knowledge Base

The workforce are the people most in danger of injury, therefore their involvement is essential in health and safety matters. They are at the "sharp end" and therefore most likely to spot potential health and safety problems. Representatives must be able to act as a two way channel and communication point on all health and safety issues. In the case of large construction sites it is often a good idea to have a safety committee.

All contractors have responsibilities to consult with the employees on health and safety matters under the Health and safety at Work, etc. Act and the regulations shown below.

Encouraging the workforce to identify risks and report concerns will require an open and non threatening environment, good communication, as well as appropriate training.

On all projects under the CDM regulations (reg, 14) the principal contractor must ensure there are arrangements in place for co-ordinating the views of the construction workforce, or their representatives, on health and safety for that site. Also that they are able to offer advice and discuss health and safety matters, as shown below

The principal contractor must:

  1. make and maintain arrangements which will enable the principal contractor and workers engaged in construction work to cooperate effectively in developing, promoting and checking the effectiveness of measures to ensure the health, safety and welfare of the workers;
  2. consult those workers or their representatives in good time on matters connected with the project which may affect their health, safety or welfare, in so far as they or their representatives have not been similarly consulted by their employer;
  3. ensure that those workers or their representatives can inspect and take copies of any information which the principal contractor has, or which these Regulations require to be provided to the principal contractor, which relate to the health, safety or welfare of workers at the site, except any information
    1. the disclosure of which would be against the interests of national security;
    2. which the principal contractor could not disclose without contravening a prohibition imposed by or under an enactment;
    3. relating specifically to an individual, unless that individual has consented to its being disclosed;
    4. the disclosure of which would, for reasons other than its effect on health, safety or welfare at work, cause substantial injury to the principal contractor's undertaking or, where the information was supplied to the principal contractor by another person, to the undertaking of that other person;
    5. obtained by the principal contractor for the purpose of bringing, prosecuting or defending any legal proceedings.

Arrangements for involvement and consultation should be included in the construction phase plan. If there are safety representatives, representatives of employee safety, or safety committees at a site, the principal contractor should use them to ensure they are able to benefit from the experience of the workforce.

By actively encouraging workforce involvement the principal contractor makes it easier for workers to discharge their own health and safety responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, the above regulations relating to representation and consultation and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

The consultation process can be performed in many different ways, but must be seen to be effective, with actions taken regarding any concerns raised by the workforce. Some methods of consulting are as below:

  • Individual contractor's supervisors consulting with their own teams and reporting back to the principal contractor;
  • Direct consultation by the principal contractor (only a likely method if the numbers of construction workers on site are small);
  • Adding a consultation session to the end of toolbox talks.