In the context of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations 2013, who is the client and who is responsible for appointing a PSDP?

Regulation 6 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations, 2013(the “Regulations”) imposes a duty on clients to appoint a competent PSDP in writing for every project. The Regulations define a “client” as “a person for whom a project is carried out” and in turn a “project” is defined as “an activity which includes or is intended to include construction work”

It should be noted that the Regulations do not preclude a client from appointing itself as a PSDP so long as it has the competence to perform the role.

In terms of the timing of the appointment of the PSDP, the Regulations stipulate that this shall be done “at or before the start of the design process”. The Regulations define “design” as “the preparation of drawings, particulars, specifications, calculations and bills of quantities in so far as they contain specifications or other expressions of purpose, according to which a project, or any part or component of a project, is to be executed”

This prompts the question as to how this is done in the procurement of an EPC or LESC in what is effectively a contractor design and build arrangement. The Health and Safety Authority’s Guidelines to the Regulations(the “Guidelines”) are of some assistance here.

Part 2.1.8 of the Guidelines highlights the need to appoint a PSDP in a timely manner and gives a specific example of in the context of a design and build scenario:

“A Client wished to appoint a design and build contractor for a project. To prepare for this, he appointed a competent Project Supervisor Design Process and a designer. The Project supervisor developed the Safety and Health Plan, which was issued to all those invited to tender for the position of Project Supervisor Construction Stage. The tender documents also stated that the successful candidate would also take over the role of Project Supervisor Design Process and to submit with their tender evidence of their competence to do this.”

It is ultimately the responsibility of the client to ensure the PSCS is provided with the Safety and Health Plan whether it is prepared by the client itself or a third party PSDP appointed by the client.  Regulation 9(1) of the Regulations notes that the client shall “provide or arrange to have provided a copy of the safety and health plan…to every person (a) being considered for the role of project supervisor for the construction stage, or (b) tendering for that role”

On the contents of the Safety and Health Plan, the Guidelines note:

The main purpose of initiating the Safety and Health Plan at the design process is to provide the following information:

  • A general description of the project;
  • Any other work activities taking place on site;
  • Work involving particular risks referred to in Schedule 1 to the Regulations but not limited to this list;
  • The timescale for the project and the basis on which the time frame was established;
  • Conclusions drawn by designers and the PSDP having taken into account the General Principles of Prevention and any relevant Safety and Health Plan or Safety File;
  • The location of electricity water and sewage connections so as to facilitate early establishment of welfare facilities.

In the context of an EPC project it might be appropriate for this to be carried out at the same time as the information for the preparation of the Technical File and Baseline Data is being gathered.

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