The timber frame industry, like all parts of the UK construction sector, faces many challenges in maintaining safe places of work. There are still too many people injured, killed or suffering ill health as a result of their work activities.
If that in itself is not enough to motivate us to control the risks from workplace hazards, from April we will have the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act. The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) is cracking down yet again and there will be many more fines and prosecutions this year against company directors who fail to heed their responsibilities.
The UKTFA and its members are fully committed to improving health and safety performance. Were already members of the HSEs Working Well Together campaign and we have a well-recognised emphasis on safety issues within our industry qualification and training programmes.
However, nothing stands still in this area. Thats why we have published the UKTFA Health and Safety Code of Practice for 2008, to help protect people working on or
visiting timber frame construction sites.
Developed in partnership with the HSE, the new Code of Practice sets out the management and operational standards that we expect from everyone involved with the supply and erection of timber frame structures, from self-build houses to multi-storey housing, schools and large commercial buildings.
Jim Johnstone is the UKTFA's health and safety committee chairman
All HSE inspectors will use this Code of Practice when visiting timber frame sites and will look to all duty holders under the CDM (Construction, Design and Management) Regulations to have done likewise.
If you havent read it yet, copies of the Code of Practice, and the UKTFAs Absolutely Essential Health & Safety Toolkit, are available from the members area of the UKTFA website.
Like others, we are fully aware that more needs to be done to control the risks from working at height, slips and trips, manual handling and many other significant workplace hazards. The Code pulls together all the legal requirements in the design, manufacture and erection of timber frame buildings into one user-friendly document which will be updated regularly.
Below are a few extracts from the Code of Practice:
The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations require all employers and self-employed to assess the risk to the health and safety of workers and any others who may be affected by the work carried out. Information, instruction and training must be provided to ensure correct levels of competency for all work activities and duties. Good safety management will address policy, organisation, planning, control, monitoring and review.
Risk assessments must be carried out. Everyone involved must know what the safe system of work is and must comply.
All personnel must be trained in the objectives of the UKTFA Code of Practice for the safe erection of timber frame and associated activities. In most cases, this will also mean training and induction for sub-contractors too.
Member companies must maintain accident records for collation and analysis by the UKTFA. The information derived from those records will enable education and training to be delivered to eliminate or reduce more frequent accidents and incidents, and to tackle their root causes.
All work equipment must be properly selected and maintained and it must meet any statutory inspection rules. Only competent employees can use this equipment and in many cases full maintenance and inspection records must be kept.
Thankfully there is a tangible health and safety benefit from offsite construction methods like ours. But by working closely with the HSE, we will make the timber frame industry an even better and safer place to be.
UKTFA H&S policy statement
Every member company will have a Health & Safety Management System in place that confirms to the requirements of either: HSG 65, OHSAS18001 or BS 8800, commensurate with their size.
Member companies of the UKTFA will be committed to continually improving occupational health and safety performance, and will ensure that appropriate policies, organisation and arrangements are in place to achieve this.
All hazards will be identified and all risks appropriately assessed. Suitable risk control measures will be employed and maintained to reduce workplace risk to a level as low as reasonably practicable.
Only competent employees and contractors will be used and appropriate training, instruction, information and supervision will be provided as appropriate.
The UKTFA is committed to supporting the aims and objectives of the Working Well Together campaign and all members are urged to sign up to this initiative.