3.5 Site safety plan
Preparing for action
As the planning and prediction phase of managing safety draws to a close, it is time to prepare for work to commence on site. This is the time to commit to the safety plan, select a team to carry out the work safely, inform the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and get work under way. This is the last chance to stop the project before work starts. If you have significant safety worries, either about the work you are expected to carry out or about the ability of the team to perform the work safely, it is better to postpone the project before starting, rather than during the project when the teams are exposed to danger, and the costs of halting the contract are much greater. Assuming that you are confident about the ability of your team to deliver the project, and your own ability to manage health and safety on the site, it is time to confirm the contracts and prepare the site safety plan.
Communication is critical in the weeks leading up the work starting on site, more so than at any other time in managing the safety brief. The preparation immediately before work starts usually involves many people: funders, clients, site owners, site managers, stalkers, local community, site users, the press, HSE, safety consultants, subcontractors, contract teams. Often, more than 10 people or organisations have to be kept informed and advised on the work about to take place and the safety arrangements that you have planned – on complex sites, the number can be much greater. Keeping information flowing, and keeping good records of the decisions you make and the people you inform is absolutely essential. Once the contractor is selected, the planning supervisor and the safety supervisor from the principal contractor must form a good working relationship and finalise the site safety plan.
Selecting the team
The client will have received detailed safety proposals from each of the contractors who wish to be considered for the contract by the closing date for the submission of tenders. It is the client’s job to select the best team to carry out the contract safely, and it is the contractors job to present a full set of safety proposals that accurately describe the abilities and intentions of their team. A bid that is submitted without safety information is not a competent bid and should be discarded (possibly after offering a short period for the contractor to supply missing or inadequate information). A team should not be selected only on their price-bidding information, on the assumption that they will be able to catch up and perform all the safety functions required of them. The risk assessment and safety method statement must prove the team’s ability to work in a planned and safe manner.
There are several factors involved in contract selection, including estimated prices and available budget, bid prices and dayworks costs, availability and expected project duration, team skills and leadership, technical skills and equipment. The client, advised by the planning supervisor, selects a team that it competent to perform the work safely as an integral part of the contract for work. Whether the work is carried out by a contract team bidding for the job, by an in-house team, or by other teams such as a volunteer group, all must supply the same range and quality of information before they are selected and deemed competent to undertake the path project. The essential elements are:
- a list of team members and their contract experience;
- evidence of competence, including safety and vocational qualifications;
- a public liability insurance certificate;
- a health and safety policy;
- site working rules;
- a risk assessment;
- a nominated person in charge of safety for the team.
Good performance is demonstrated in a number of ways and is a combination of the right team and skills; good presentation and a track record for safe working; and attention to detail. The key criteria include the following.
The client demonstrates good practice and competence by:
- providing a comprehensive set of information;
- providing up-to-date information on the site and to all involved in the wider ‘team’;
- ensuring that the information provided is focused on the key hazards of the project site;
- ensuring that additional controls for the ‘big three’, i.e. weather, remoteness and difficult terrain, have been put in place and adapted to the site;
- ensuring that there is a clear chain of command among the project team, and that each member is well briefed;
- ensuring that right equipment for the job is available, and that the right competencies among the path team have been identified;
- ensuring that good communication is established with the principal contractor as a basis for turning the site plan into safe action;
- identifying the aspects of safety that will require most monitoring or may be most difficult to perform;
- making design modifications as suggested by the contractors during the site visit;
- making contact with site users, the local community and the local/mountaineering press to let the public know that the project is going to happen.
The team leader demonstrates good practice by:
- providing a comprehensive set of information;
- providing an annual set of background safety documents and keeping them up to date;
- carrying out a comprehensive risk assessment based on generic risks but adapted to the project site;
- identifying key hazards and preparing individual step-by-step assessments;
- thinking through the consequences of the ‘big three’, and detailing how the team will respond if conditions deteriorate;
- setting out a timetable to meet with the planning supervisor and discussing safety with both the client and the team;
- offering thoughts and ideas on potential design modifications and safety amendments;
- being realistic about a team’s capabilities and the limits within which safe work can take place on the site;
- making detailed plans on how the public will be looked after while work is in progress on site.
The contractor’s submission is a statement of current ability. Previous experience of the team’s work and its track record with other clients also provide the client with information. A strong safety culture and ethos of care for the team and visitors is easily spotted and carries weight. Selection is a combination of price, availability and team skills. CDM Regulations state that teams must be able to perform to the required standard and prove themselves (in the safety method statement) to be competent. Poor teams should not be selected nor teams who may be known to be good, but have not conveyed this on paper and planned their work. The decision on selection is usually recorded in a safety information log, including reasons for selection.
Contractors should seek feedback on why they did not get the contract and keep a record of this. It may be that the way you are presenting your safety profile and skills does not reflect your team’s abilities.
It is the statutory responsibility of the planning supervisor to inform the HSE using Form F10 (revised) of any contract that comes under the CDM Regulations. Notification must take place before work starts. There is no need to submit a safety plan, but the form must be signed by both the planning supervisor and the principal contractor. All subcontractors, including the self-employed, plant operators and helicopter companies must be listed. Most plant operators will provide you with a method statement for their work, but check it to make sure it meets the demands of the particular site, and adapt it to cover path work specifically. Submitting the wrong risk assessment does not create a good impression!
Finalise the health and safety plan
The Site Safety Plan brings together information contained in the pre-tender health and safety plan and the safety method statement, and combines this with new information discussed and agreed with the planning supervisor and the selected contractor team leader. The contract manager and the contractor will have to produce the final plan. They will have to decide the methods that will be used, discuss the timing and progress of the contract and set the site limits, for instance the distance vehicles can be tracked from the edge of the path, the maximum periods that work can continue on site, or the likely response the team will make to changing weather conditions. The site safety plan records the outcome of these discussions and contains the following information:
|Information||Source||Final details agreed and noted|
|Contacts||Pre-tender plan and safety method statement|
|Contract description||Tender information||
|Step sequence operations||Safety method statement||
|Particular operations breakdown||Safety method statement||
|Barriers and cordoned-off areas||New section||
|Plant, tools and PPE||New section||
|Hazardous substances||Pre-tender plan and safety method statement||
|Working arrangements||Pre-tender plan and safety method statement||
|Management structure||New section||
|Safety provision||Pre-tender plan and safety method statement||
The site safety plan must be held on file by both the contractor and the client, and it is mandatory that a full copy is kept on site, preferably on waterproof paper. The file should be accessible for all team members, and everyone should be encouraged to read it and refer to the site plan.
Work should not start on site unless both the contractor and the client – and the planning supervisor if there is a separately appointed person – are happy that the necessary arrangements, both planning and practical, are in place to manage safety. The contractor should ascertain whether there are any jobs that are risky. The client must be sure that all tasks undertaken on site can be done so safely. The project should only proceed when you are sure that the work can be carried out safely.