Health & Safety Considerations during Refurbishment in Occupation!
Refurbishment in occupation is complex. Bulb Interiors possess a wealth of experience in delivering refurbishment in occupation. In this article, we focus on the health and safety considerations for a successful refurbishment project (in continuation of recently published article).
The presence of construction activity in a commercial environment creates health and safety issues. It is important to protect workers, clients and neighbours who could be affected.
The following guidelines illustrate key health and safety issues that must be addressed when undertaking a refurbishment in occupation.
Steps to safety
The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015) apply to most construction projects including refurbishments in occupation.
Under the CDM regulations, if more than one contractor is involved, the client will need to appoint (in writing) a principal designer to plan, manage and coordinate the planning and design work. They should understand types of risks and try to avoid them when designing your project. Appointing them as early as possible can help you gather information about the project and ensure that it can be built safely. A principal contractor is required to plan, manage and coordinate the construction work. Appoint them as early as possible so they are involved in discussions with the principal designer about the work. The principal contractor should manage the risks on site and has to draw up a plan explaining how health and safety risks will be managed. The health and safety file – a record of information of key health and safety risks that have to be managed – should always be accessible on site.
- Where work takes place within occupied buildings, the client and the principal contractor will need to manage not only the risks created by their own work, but also those created by sharing the workplace.
- Where CDM apply, the client must pass relevant information on to the planning supervisor and design team and this should be included in the pre-tender stage health and safety plan.
- Where CDM does not apply, joint agreements between the occupiers and contactors are still needed to ensure health and safety risks and precautions are properly managed and co-ordinated.
- Agreements should cover respective responsibilities, mechanisms of co-operation and co-ordination, provide information about risks, control access to the construction area and outline emergency procedures.
- During refurbishment, the upgrading of services may mean breaching fire-stops in services, recesses, ducts, and voids where fire can spread rapidly – care should be taken that occupants are not put at risk during this work.
Deliveries and rubbish disposal
- Deliveries should be scheduled for ‘quiet periods’ or out-of-hours.
- Waste/rubbish disposal and removal should take place out-of-hours. Alternatively, rubbish can be efficiently and cost-effectively removed in wheeled containers to a waiting lorry or contractor.
- A large build-up of wood-type debris in the construction area will create a fire risk.
- Out-of-hours working can help ease problems with noise levels and vibration which may affect other occupants of the building.
- Using noise-reduced compressors and other machinery can significantly reduce noise levels.
- It is important that everyone affected is kept fully informed so that they plan accordingly.
- When dust or noise levels form part of conditions written into a contract, the contractor must carry out a monitoring exercise to ensure compliance.
- Where out-of-hours noise could affect nearby residents, the local Environmental Health Department should be notified.
- Where a building has more than one access, set apart a separate route e.g. a rear entrance, for use by the contractor.
- Measures should be taken to protect access ways from falling materials, dust, vibration, fumes and other hazards.
- Fire exits and escapes must be maintained and kept clear at all times. If work on a dedicated fire escape route has to be done during working hours an alternative route must be provided and everyone should be informed.
- A working fire alarm must be maintained. If, for any reason, the fire alarm system has to be disconnected a temporary system must be installed.
- The smoke alarms are normally capped-off while work is underway as they may get triggered by dust. The site manager must issue a written permit to allow smoke alarms to be capped.
- Gas, electricity, water and drainage to the occupied section of the building must be maintained.
One of the most potentially serious problems is the discovery of asbestos. Those responsible for workplace premises will require to:
- Undertake a survey for asbestos in their buildings and record their findings.
- Assume that asbestos is present unless it isn’t.
- Prepare and carry our plans to manage the risks from asbestos.
- Provide information to anyone likely to come into contact with asbestos.Remember that asbestos–containing materials pose no risk if they are in good condition and left undisturbed. Problems arise when they are not properly managed.Other substances that are hazardous to health: toxic, harmful, irritant or corrosive- must be managed under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulation (COSHH).
For more information on health and safety, please check Health and Safety Executive website here.
If you are thinking of a refurbishment project, would like any advice or have questions about Bulb’s approach, please get in touch.