Construction compliance: new regulations affect food industry

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Monday 6 April saw the new Construction Design and Management (CDM) Regulations 2015 officially come into force, marking the beginning of a six-month transitional period before the deadline date of 6 October. So what do food manufacturers planning construction projects need to know? Todd Hallam, EHS Director at specialist food processing construction company Chalcroft, explains.

While the food and drink industry may not have been as badly hit by the most recent recession as other sectors, including construction, proceeding with caution has still been the norm for most UK manufacturers. However, there are now strong signs that food manufacturers are beginning to look a little more positively to the future, forging ahead with construction projects. Chalcroft’s most recent customer survey revealed that 72 per cent of respondents were aiming to increase capital investment in their estate in the upcoming year, partly due to more confidence in the performance of UK food manufacturers.

This growing confidence in the market was demonstrated by the Glenigan Index (February) which reported that around 1,250 previously stalled projects were resurrected and brought into development during 2014, representing an increase of 13 per cent on the previous year. These new projects include a high volume of food-related premises with a particular focus on logistics and distribution facilities as food manufacturers seek to optimise their supply chains. With this demand for new food manufacturing facilities expected to rise into 2015, with a 40 per cent year-on-year increase in planning approvals secured in Q4 of 2014, many manufacturers will now find themselves with increased responsibility for health, safety and welfare on a capital project.

Construction remains one of the most dangerous industries, with workers four times more likely to be killed at work than those in any other industry, and the CDM regulations seek to improve compliance with a raft of essential health and safety legislation. Although the technical standards covered by Part 4 of the updated regulations remains largely unchanged from the guidance related to CDM 2007, there are several notable changes to CDM regulations which apply to all commercial businesses of any size and will therefore affect food manufacturers.

With the role of CDM Co-ordinator now made obsolete, food manufacturers must take an overseeing role in their construction projects with the support of their Principal Designer (PD), which can be an organisation or an individual who is responsible for the pre-construction phase and oversees design and planning, and Principal Contractor (PC) throughout the project. These roles must now be filled where there is more than one contractor working on a project, regardless of size or duration. Initially, they must ensure the PD and PC have the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and organisational capability to manage health and safety risks. Pre-construction information must then be compiled by the client and issued to both parties, providing critical and high-risk information which is crucial in allowing them to ensure the relevant welfare facilities are in place and that health & safety arrangements are implemented. The PD will develop the H&S File, but the project owner must take reasonable steps to ensure that both the PC and PD comply fully with all their duties and adhere to all relevant legislation including the Health and Safety at Work Act, Work at Height Regulations and RIDDOR.

It is also now the job of the food manufacturer to ensure the PC prepares a thorough Construction Phase Plan (CPP) for all projects where relevant, which outlines the health and safety arrangements, along with site rules and measures to control the hazards and risks specific to each site. In contrast to the previous regulations, a CPP is now required for all construction projects – regardless of the duration of the build or the number of workers on site.

Food manufacturers also now have a responsibility to inform the HSE of larger construction projects via an F10 form if the project is either expected to last more than 30 days and have more than 20 workers on site at any one time, or will exceed 500 person days in total.

For projects which began before 6 April but have not yet moved into the construction phase, a PD must still be appointed. If a CDM Co-ordinator is already in position, they can continue in their role up until the final deadline of 6 October but, if the project extends beyond this date, they must be replaced by a PD by 6 October at the latest to ensure compliance.