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Martin Barnards safety column

Thank you for your interesting and challenging responses to the content of my first health and safety columns. Keep them coming!

I was particularly taken by the response from Nick Reilly regarding the likely impact of the new CDM ACoP guidance on designers. He asked if there was any rigorous analysis of construction accidents which supported the apparent view that designers had most to do to reduce the accident rate. This specific question logically leads to a broader debate on the role of the designer in general.

Never one to shirk a challenge, I am keen to explore this important point, which is fundamental to CDM and its objectives. Indeed, it seems to me to be of sufficient importance to open it out in order that the question can be answered.

In introducing the debate, I offer the following contrasting perspectives:

In the NCE member survey in January/February 2001, the following emerged:

65% of clients felt designers did not understand their health and safety responsibilities.

94% of contractors considered that designers could do more to design out risks during construction.

Significantly, nearly 75% of consulting engineers shared the contractors' view.

In the first six years of CDM, only 5% of successful prosecutions have involved a designer.

From April 1999 to March 2001, there was only one case against a designer.

The provisional figures for the year to March 2002 indicated that there was one prosecution against a designer.

So, are designers really the ones at fault? Where is the hard evidence, rather than anecdote?

Is it the case that the other CDM players 'would say that wouldn't they'? Over to you, let the debate begin! E-mail me with your views.

Martin Barnard is Symonds Group health and safety director email: martin. barnard@ symonds-group. com

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