NEBOSH Diploma Syllabus Revision News #28

Element C9 surrounds construction work and again, you’ll be glad to know that this also has changed little.  It turns out that construction work does not generally contain any specific hazards that haven’t already been covered elsewhere.  To some then, it may always seem an odd feature of qualifications like this that give it a special place in the syllabus.  But, context is everything.  The thing that makes construction sites so special is the constantly changing nature.   A hole opens up in the ground where there wasn’t one yesterday (or at least not as deep).  The bricks you were laying at ground level last week are today being laid one storey up.  And that’s not all, on a site of any size, you are likely to have many different jobs going on at any given time, all at different stages.

This means that you have to keep adapting your risk control measures as the workplace changes.  This is what makes it so different from a static workplace, where the risk control measures you put in place can expect to remain there unchanged for a reasonable period of time.  Hence, the need for a good deal of planning and coordination.

The UK syllabus of course concentrates on the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM) which are intended to formalise all the planning and coordination needed to run a construction project.  Because it is a one-size fits all set of requirements it is easy to imagine that the roles identified for a construction project must be done by separate people (client, designer, principal designer etc), rather than in fact what they are – roles.  Multiple roles can be adopted by the same person.  And indeed, in UK law at least, it does not even need to be a specific person – but a company as a whole taking on the role (or multiple roles).

The international diploma is not concerned with the UK CDM regulations, but the concepts are transferrable.  Construction projects all over the world have to be coordinated otherwise they introduce both too many risks and too many inefficiencies (waste) into the system, so there’s no profit in it.

This element also covers work at height (where the risks are especially obvious), demolition (where they apparently are not obvious) and excavations.  The potential for building collapse (that is unintended or premature) during demolition work still seems to take people by surprise.  It is easy to see this in hindsight but not so easy to appreciate as you are slowly weakening the structure by dismantling internals and supporting beams.  This underlines another thing in CDM – making sure that building design and modification information is recorded and stays with the building.  In the UK we call it a Health and safety file but whatever you call it, it’s only years later that you realise its value.