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Risk and reward

Risk and reward

HLG Associates consider the matter of managing construction risks, and reward of choosing expert HSPC support

There are some things in life that you really don’t want to overlook. Risk is one of them. 

The dictionary definition underlines why. Risk: a situation involving exposure to danger. And when it comes to risk, few working environments have a higher exposure than construction sites. 

The dangers are obvious – heavy machinery, operating at height, exposed conditions. Chemicals, asbestos, cutting, grinding and drilling, along with plenty of other potential hazards. It’s fortunate, therefore, that risk is something fully recognised by the modern construction industry and – in best practice environments at least – proactive steps are taken to minimise the dangers as far as practically possible. 

Construction’s inherently risky nature is also something recognised by responsible governments. That of Jersey is no exception. A recent law – catchily entitled ‘The Health and Safety (Management in Construction) (Jersey) Regulations 2016’ – firmly sets out expectations for anyone undertaking development above a very modest size. 

Among legal requirements is appointing a Health and Safety Project Coordinator, or HSPC. What does a HSPC do? Chris Bester of construction industry consultants HLG Associates offers an expert insight. 

‘It’s fundamentally an advisory, supporting and coordinating role, focused on ensuring that everyone involved in the project is effectively managing its health and safety risks. The HSPC works with clients, designers, contractors and inspectors, providing expert input to activities and reporting on progress.’

‘Their responsibilities don’t just include health and safety risks associated with construction,’ Chris continues, ‘but extend to cover design and future occupancy. People using the building need assurance it’s safe to do so. And there should be nothing to compromise those responsible for its ongoing maintenance and eventual demolition or repurposing. So, it’s quite a responsibility, which is why the role of HSPC needs taking very seriously. Especially given the undoubted emphasis placed on health and safety within the construction industry.’ 

‘It could be seen that the HSPC role is something of a ‘tick-box’ exercise,’ Chris expands, ‘complying with the law’s spirit, but not really its substance. While the commitment to onsite health and safety practices can be strong, the emphasis on risk planning and management may be viewed as less important.’  

‘Companies may also have limited resources,’ he goes on, ‘given the complex demands of modern construction. This may lead to them viewing the provision of a strong and effective HSPC function as lower priority. Which, ultimately, means risk management gets lower priority too.’ 

Is there an alternative, then, for companies that recognise the importance of risk management but perhaps lack the resources or expertise to properly carry it out? 

Recognising the challenges faced providing an effective HSPC function, HLG has developed an option designed to encompass all aspects of the role as an outsourced service. 

Starting with expert advice on legal obligations under the 2016 Jersey law, it will include liaison with clients and designers during a project’s early stages, to incorporate best practice risk management expectations into the finished building. And it continues throughout the project’s lifetime, providing an effective, efficient and professional HSPC function during construction. 

‘We ultimately believe that everyone involved in a project should be able to fully focus on their area of expertise without the distraction of also worrying about HSPC demands,’ concludes Chris. ‘Like many other specialist services associated with the industry, there are times when seeking expert support is the right option. Why risk compromising health and safety after all, when the benefits of having it managed on your behalf are so rewarding.’

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