Health and Safety issues are of fundamental importance for any self build project. Any injury to you, your family or anyone else involved with the project could have many implications over and above the obvious personal distress to the casualty.
Personal injury claims can be very costly, but on a more mundane level ‘downtime’ can be very expensive. If word gets round that your site is unsafe, tradesmen will be very reluctant to work for you, and the Health and Safety Executive could make you wish you had never started the project!
Do not assume a self build site can be 100% safe. However, carrying out a thorough risk assessment of your site before you begin to build, will help to ensure that all risks are minimised. Coupled with a good helping of common sense, you can work secure in the knowledge that you have created as safe a site as possible.
Place signs around the site, stating the importance of wearing the correct safety clothing. It is also a good idea to write a clause into all contractors’ agreements requiring them to wear appropriate safety clothing at all times on site.
Hard hats and reflective jackets are some of the most important pieces of equipment on a site. Get into the habit of wearing them at all times and make sure contractors and visitors are always given them.
All insurance policies differ. When deciding on your policy, check carefully who is and who is not covered by each insurance company. If you are in any doubt, obtain written clarification from the policy provider.
Professional power tools normally run on a 110 volt supply, and have built in cut off switches. Self builders often use domestic DIY tools, which use 240 volts, and have no cut off. RCD contact breakers are available off the shelf in all Howarth Timber and Building Supplies branches, often built into plug units. For a small expense, this gadget can save your life - make sure you always use one. It can be tempting to try to do work yourself, even though you are not 100% confident about your ability. The golden rule - if in doubt, contact a professional.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 apply to everyone at work, no matter what they are doing. These regulations require a full risk assessment to be carried out, in which you identify the hazards associated with the job, the likelihood of harm arising, and the precautions necessary to prevent it happening.
For information about the publications available from the Health & Safety Executive, call their Info-Line on 0845 345 0055 (www.hse.gov.uk) between 8.30 and 17.00 Monday - Friday