CLIENTS ARE calling for the revised Construction Design and Management (CDM) 2007 regulations to be scrapped, fearing that the more onerous responsibilities placed upon them could land staff in prison.
Lobbying by client bodies has convinced Conservative Party leader David Cameron to lodge an early day motion calling for a debate in parliament where he will push to have the regulations annulled.
Fire regulations were expected to come into force after approval by the House of Commons on 6 April. But if MPs vote against implementation, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) will have to rewrite the revisions.
At the very least, this, said shadow minister responsible for health and safety Andrew Selous, will delay 'the regulations because there is not enough time to have the debate before 6 April'.
The original CDM regulations came into force in 1994. These allowed clients to discharge health and safety liability on to a competent third party. But the revised regulations force clients to retain this liability. Clients fear they do not have the level of competence required to take on this risk.
The Construction Clients' Group (CCG) and the Forum for Private Business (FPB) warned, in a joint announcement on Monday: 'Small and mediumsized businesses, and one-off clients, whose core activities do not involve construction, will be more vulnerable to prosecution as they will not fully understand new criminal liabilities or the impact of the new regulations placed upon them.' SE principal specialist inspector Andrew East strongly disagreed with this claim. He told NCE that the responsibilities in CDM 2007 are not new and are outlined under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974.
In contrast, FPB campaigns manager Victoria Carson said: 'What small business, having building work carried out for the first time, is going to have the slightest idea about what rules and regulations they must comply with?
The resulting confusion could lead to accidents or a reluctance to have building work carried out - bad news for both the business and the construction firm that would have been employed to do it.' But not all health and safety experts agreed. BBC representative on the CCG health and safety working group Mark Poole accused CDM critics of trying to hold on to their 'get out of jail free cards'.