APC competencies: health and safety
A healthy interest
21 September 2016
The health and safety competency is mandatory for building surveying. Ewan Craig, a speaker at the RICS annual It’s Your APC conference, offers guidance on the subject
Health and safety is one of the mandatory competencies for the building surveying APC. In the construction sector, this demands a good ability to apply technical competencies together, for example:
- building pathology: how the building has, or is prone to, deterioration and how this may affect the health and safety of occupants or visitors;
- design and specification: the process of construction, good health and safety practice, and mitigating or avoiding potential poor practice;
- legal/regulatory compliance: legislation and regulations on health and safety such as the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations, also referred to as the CDM Regulations.
The requirements for this competency by level are as follows.
At level 1
Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the principles and responsibilities imposed by law, codes of practice and other regulations appropriate to your area of practice.
At level 2
Apply evidence of practical application of health and safety issues and the requirements for compliance in your area of practice.
At level 3
Provide evidence of reasoned advice given to clients and others on all aspects on health and safety.
You should be familiar with the health and safety issues raised in your submission documents, and be ready to address questions on them and matters related to them.
Actual questions are based on the candidate’s experience, which should be at level 2 but could exceed this. Two examples are given below.
Can you please explain how you addressed the health and safety issues prior to construction in refurbishing building X?
This question is aimed at level 2 candidates, but it could be extended to level 3 if you prepared reasoned advice for the client. The answer should explain pertinent issues to support your application of knowledge.
This was a sizeable project including alterations, reroofing and redecoration of a block of flats. I started to realise during the pre-construction phase that the client was unfamiliar with the construction sector and this was their first refurbishment project.
You should be familiar with the health and safety issues raised in your documents
At the initial meeting, I asked about the appointment of the principal designer as the client had not appointed us, and the work indicated that the CDM Regulations would apply. When the client questioned why this was required, I mentioned the CDM Regulations and the duties these place on the client.
The client was unaware of their duties or how to fulfil them, so I gave them guidance on these and complying with them under the regulations by, for instance, appointing a principal designer and principal contractor, providing information to them and allowing adequate time for design and construction. The client did then appoint the principal designer and contractor and complied with the regulations, extending the programme to allow sufficient time to prepare before the works started.
Please describe how you dealt with the health and safety issues during the construction of building Y.
This is aimed at level 2 candidates as well. Your response should show the issues considered in applying your knowledge.
I carried out regular site inspections during the construction phase for the construction of building Y. On my initial inspection during the site set-up, I found several welfare, health and safety issues. These included inadequate wash facilities with no hot water and no provision to heat food. Both of these were expected under the CDM Regulations construction phase plan. I informed the principal contractor who rectified both issues before the facilities were used.
During an inspection with the site agent later in the project, we found workers had erected a mobile scaffold that was unstable and a competent person had not inspected it, contrary to the Work at Height Regulations. The site agent prohibited its use until it was inspected by a competent person. Following this, he provided evidence of corrective action being taken with all site operatives, as well as those concerned, such as retraining, toolbox talks on using scaffold and spot checks.
Given the time constraints of the APC, your answer should be brief but comprehensive. Care should be taken to demonstrate your own skills, abilities and knowledge to the assessors.
Ewan Craig is an APC assessor and Associate with Ridge and Partners LLP
- More details on the APC pathway guide for building surveyors
- Related competencies include Construction technology and environmental services, Legal/regulatory compliance, Building pathology, Design and specification
- This feature is taken from the RICS Building surveying journal (July/August 2016)