We have created the below information to assist you and your business in respect of typical health & safety requirements that many trades encounter on a day to day basis.
As always please refer your own policy documents, endorsements & requirements from your insurance company, as the below information is only a generalised guide and policy wording may differ.
The following points are considered as good business practice should you use the following equipment as part of your trade:
- Electric, oxy-acetylene or similar welding or cutting equipment
- Cutting or grinding equipment using abrasive disks or wheels
- Blow lamp, blow torch, hot air gun or hot air stripper
- Asphalt, bitumen, tar or pitch heater
Before Starting Work
- Where you and any other person(s) for whom you are responsible are working at a site, a responsible person must be appointed for fire safety to ensure the following precautions are taken.
- Fire safety checks to identify material that might be liable to catch fire must be carried out before work commences including the areas under floors or decks or above ceilings (including false or suspended ceilings) and behind walls, screens, bulkheads or partitions.
Such checks must be repeated regularly while work is in progress immediate steps taken to extinguish smouldering or flames detected
- At the point of application of heat if there is a risk of ignition directly or by conduction, combustible materials must be removed. If impracticable, combustible materials within the immediate vicinity when using any blow lamp, blow torch, hot air gun or hot air stripper and/or 10 metres when using any electric, oxy-acetylene or similar welding or cutting equipment, cutting or grinding equipment using abrasive disks or wheels or any asphalt, bitumen, tar or pitch heater must be covered and protected by overlapping sheets or screens of non-combustible material.
- All gaps or holes through which sparks or flames could pass must be covered by non-combustible material.
While Work Is In Progress
- A sufficient number of portable fire extinguishers in full working order and suitable for dealing with the type of fire risk expected must be kept available at the point of application of heat and used immediately smoke, smouldering or flames are detected.
- Heat equipment must not be lit until immediately before use, left unattended while lit, switched on or hot and must be extinguished immediately after use.
- Cylinders must not be changed while the equipment is hot, must be kept at least 15 metres from the burner.
- Paraffin or petrol powered equipment must be filled/refilled in the open, must not be filled/refilled while hot.
- Asphalt, bitumen, tar or pitch must only be heated in the open and in a container designed for that purpose, placed on a non-combustible surface at ground level.
After Finishing Work
- Hot waste materials and welding rods must be removed and safely disposed of.
- A final fire safety check must be carried out between 30 and 60 minutes after work has finished and immediate steps taken to extinguish smouldering or flames detected.
The following points are considered as good business practice should you do any depth work as part of your trade:
In connection with damage to underground pipes, cables or other services you will maintain in force a system of work for controlling the risks associated with digging, excavating, boring or similar work and before starting such work you should have:
- Taken (or caused to be taken) all reasonable steps, including contacting the appropriate authorities, to find out whether any pipes, cables or other services, which could be at risk, are under the site and
- Kept a written record of the steps taken and
- Informed whoever is carrying out the digging, excavating or boring of the location of any pipes, cables or other services.
If you are an employer or you control work at height (for example if you are a contractor or a factory owner), the regulations apply to you.
How do you comply with these Regulations?
Employers and those in control of any work at height activity must make sure work is properly planned, supervised and carried out by competent people. This includes using the right type of equipment for working at height.
Low-risk, relatively straightforward tasks will require less effort when it comes to planning. Employers and those in control must first assess the risks.
Take a sensible, pragmatic approach when considering precautions for work at height. Factors to weigh up include the height of the task; the duration and frequency; and the condition of the surface being worked on. There will also be certain low-risk situations where common sense tells you no particular precautions are necessary.
How do you decide if someone is ‘competent’ to work at height?
You should make sure that people with sufficient skills, knowledge and experience are employed to perform the task, or, if they are being trained, that they work under the supervision of somebody competent to do it.
In the case of low-risk, short duration tasks (short duration means tasks that take less than 30 minutes) involving ladders, competence requirements may be no more than making sure employees receive instruction on how to use the equipment safely (eg how to tie a ladder properly) and appropriate training. Training often takes place on the job, it does not always take place in a classroom.
When a more technical level of competence is required, for example drawing up a plan for assembling a complex scaffold, existing training and certification schemes drawn up by trade associations and industry is one way to help demonstrate competence.
What measures should you take to help protect people?
Always consider measures that protect everyone who is at risk (collective protection) before measures that protect only the individual (personal protection). Collective protection is equipment that does not require the person working at height to act to be effective, for example a permanent or temporary guard rail.
Personal protection is equipment that requires the individual to act to be effective. An example is putting on a safety harness correctly and connecting it, via an energy-absorbing lanyard, to a suitable anchor point.
CHECKING YOUR SUBCONTRACTORS INSURANCE COVER
We recommend that when you engage any bonafide subcontractors, they do not start work until you have seen a copy and/or evidence that their own insurance policy satisfies the following criteria:
- The policy is in force for the period they are working for you
- Covers the type of work being carried out under the business description on their policy
- The policy is for an indemnity limit no less than yours
Please be aware that some insurers require the above to be a mandatory requirement. As always, please check your policy documents carefully and ensure that you comply to all policy conditions, terms and endorsements.
For further information on health & safety at work, please refer to the HSE website: