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Concrete gutters and the new CDM regulations : a brief guide for clients

On the 6th of April, the new 2015 CDM Regulations came into force
(go to http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2015/51/contents/made for more information), superseding the old 2007 Construction Design and Management Regulations. All construction activities are now regulated including concrete gutter replacement.

The new regulations place health and safety obligations on the key players in all construction projects. Replacement of Concrete Gutters comes under the definition of construction as identified under the new regulations.
Domestic Clients, ie householders are not expected to have duties under the regulations their responsibilities are transferred to the principle contractor and principle designer. This will generally be the organisation carrying out the concrete gutter replacement. The domestic client may choose to have a written agreement with the principle designer or designer, to carry out the clients duties.
The new regulations define a domestic client as: Domestic clients are people who have construction work carried out on their own home, or the home of a family member that is not done as part of a business, whether for profit or not.
A landlord or developer who commissions the removal of concrete gutters therefore has full duties as a client under the new regulations. Their duties are summarised as follows:
Make suitable arrangements for managing a project. This includes making sure:

Other duty holders are appointed

Sufficient time and resources are allocated

Relevant information is prepared and provided to other duty holders

The principle designer and principal contractor carry out their duties

Welfare facilities are provided

The new regulations have been put into place to with the sole intention of securing health and safety within the construction environment.
The key elements are:

(a) managing the risks by applying the general principles of prevention;
(b) appointing the right people and organisations at the right time;
(c) making sure everyone has the information, instruction, training and supervision they need to carry out their jobs in a way that secures health and safety;
(d) dutyholders cooperating and communicating with each other and coordinating their work; and
(e) consulting workers and engaging with them to promote and develop effective measures to secure health, safety and welfare.
How do the regultions affect concret gutter replacement?
There are two likely situations here. Where the designer and contractor are the same organisation or where the designer or main contractor hires sub contract labour. In the latter case, the client must appoint a principle contractor who will generally be the main contractor.
In either case the designer should have a health and safety plan in place. Concrete gutter replacement has inherent dangers.
The risks which he must consider are:
Where there are power cables within 7 metres of the proposes scaffold, the cables must be shrouded. This should be identified by the surveyor within his preliminary on site risk assessment.
Asbestos is quite often used for the rainwater pipes in conjunction with a concrete gutter system. Arrangements must be made for its removal and safe disposal.
Working at height (any designer will who has considered the risk will ensure that he specifies a full working scaffold, with appropriate ladder station access).
Manual Handling. The designer should consider how the heavy concrete blocks are to be removed without risk of injury to the operatives.
Working in and around a live site, with occupants in the property. Minimising the risk to occupants and their property can be brought about by considering sheeting up, ensuring that access and egress points are well defined and that those who are most vulnerable are considered (including children and the elderly).
Use of abrasive discs / cutting equipment. This is usually controlled by issuing a permit to work, by the site foreman. Only personnel trained to use the equipment will be allowed to carry out the work and they must be aware that there is a potential risk of fire, and adequate fire fighting plan should be in operation.
Falling objects. Portions of the cut Concrete Gutters can fall onto building occupants below. The risk can be reduced by having correctly fitted toe boards , brick guards and appropriate chutes attached to the scaffold.
Contractors should ensure that they have risk assessments and method statements encompassing the above points. They should at all times wear the correct PPE, including high visibility jackets, hard hats, gloves, dust masks and the correct goggles or safety spectacles.
To the client this must all seem a little over the top, when all they have asked for is to have the problem concrete gutters replaced. However, as long as they choose the right contractor to remove their concrete gutter, the new regulations should not cause them any concern.