Construction Sector Gets New HSE Guidance on Safety Standards

We take a look at HSE’s recently updated operational guidance on expected safety standards in the construction sector.

Safe Working is a basic necessity

As part of their safe working arrangements, construction workers are entitled to adequate welfare provision. Not only is welfare a fundamental and basic necessity for workers, it’s also required by law. Things like the provision of toilet facilities, a supply of hot and cold (or warm) water for washing, changing facilities, drinking-water and suitable places both to eat and to rest are all considered basic expectations.

Satisfactory welfare facilities also protect workers against the risks from hazardous substances, such as cement, lead, and asbestos, and from micro-organisms. 

In addition to these welfare requirements, employers and contractors have a general duty to ensure the health and safety of all workers on site. This includes providing appropriate training and protective equipment and undertaking risk assessments to manage hazards and prevent accidents.

When a construction firm ensures that satisfactory health, safety, and welfare standards are in place, this sets the tone for construction projects and demonstrates the firm’s commitment to meeting the needs of its workers. Where HSE inspections find failures of adequate welfare provisions it has the power to levy fines on construction firms, and their directors. It can also withdraw approvals, vary licences, and issue cautions. In serious cases it can also prosecute.

HSE’s new guidance on welfare standards is welcome

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has recognised that throughout the construction industry there have been issues over the interpretation of its previous guidance – The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015, known simply as CDM. These regulations apply to all construction projects in Great Britain, including those involving demolition and refurbishment. 

The industry has been calling for greater clarification on the required standards for welfare facilities for some time. HSE’s recently updated guidance on the welfare standards is therefore very welcome.

HSE’s newly released operational guidance document is very detailed. It is aimed primarily at HSE’s construction inspectors and visiting officers, but it has also been shared across the industry. The benefit of doing this is that there can now be no room for doubt about the legal requirements that apply and about the welfare standards that HSE expects to see on all construction sites.

Publication of the new guidance means that HSE have an important tool in their armoury when they need to take enforcement action against contractors who fail to meet the required standards. There’s little reason for responsible contractors to worry though as the new guidance clarifies what the expected standards are, and this will make it easier for contractors to comply.

Get familiar with the detail

All responsible contractors need to familiarise themselves with the new operational guidance. The HSE document sets out the required provisions for:


  • Obligations of business it will frequently occur that pleasures.
  • Foresee the pain and trouble that are bound.
  • Do what we like best, every pleasure is to be welcomed and every pain avoided.
  • Business it will frequently occur that pleasures have to be repudiated.


  • Eating and preparing meals
  • Hygiene
  • First Aid
  • New and expectant mothers
  • Drinking water

The view from ACAD

ACAD, the Trade Association which supports and represents companies working throughout the asbestos industry, are supportive of the new guidance: Graham Warren, ACAD Manager, said: “The new guidance will provide everyone with a much clearer focus on HSE expectations in this crucial area, including clients who should ensure their specifications reflect these requirements. As well as providing clarity around a range of elements including the acceptable distance to a WC and the volume of drinking water that should be provided by the employer, this also includes for ensuring UK construction sites don’t just focus on accommodating male workers, which is another key step in broadening the appeal of UK Construction.” 

The view from Windsor Waste Management

Windsor Waste Management’s Owner & Founder,  Tony Windsor said: “Clarity on safer standards for UK construction is vital and so it’s reassuring to see that workers are now legally protected. I absolutely welcome these new standards which will cover a range of provisions from food and drink, first aid and new and expectant mothers. Excellent to see more inclusion in the construction industry.”

Can Windsor Waste Management help you?

We are a market leader in the asbestos disposal industry and a significant provider of total waste management services to the construction, demolition and related industries across the United Kingdom.

Our services include storage, collection and disposal solutions for asbestos, hazardous waste, construction and demolition waste and business waste.

If we can help you with any of these waste management services, please contact us today.

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