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Proposals to remove fourteen legislative measures

Annex 2 - Construction (Head Protection) Regulations and Notification of Conventional Tower Cranes Regulations

Construction (Head Protection) Regulations

Construction (Head Protection) Regulations 1989 (S.I. 1989/2209)


2.1 The proposal to revoke the Construction (Head Protection) Regulations 1989 (‘the CHP Regulations’) arises from recommendations contained in Professor Löfstedt’s report Reclaiming Health and Safety For All. He notes that these Regulations largely replicate the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 (‘the PPE Regulations’) and that the latter could be relied on to regulate the use of head protection on construction sites.

2.2 If the proposal is approved the revoking Statutory Instrument will do this by revoking Regulation 3(3)(f) of the PPE Regulations (which disapplies certain requirements relating to the provision and use of PPE where the CHP Regulations applies) so that the requirement to wear head protection will be within the scope of the PPE Regulations and all of the requirements will be applicable to head protection.

2.3 The proposals make no changes to sections 11 & 12 of the Employment Act 1989, which exempts turban-wearing Sikhs from wearing head protection whilst on construction sites. This exemption applies to any statutory provision, so would continue to apply to the provisions of the PPE Regulations.

Construction (Head Protection) Regulations 1989

2.4 The CHP Regulations came into force on 1 April 1990 with the objective of reducing the number and severity of head injuries in the construction industry. Prior to their introduction, concerted efforts to increase the voluntary use of head protection had been made, but with little effect.

2.5 The CHP Regulations require the provision of suitable head protection for workers who are engaged in construction work1 and place a duty on employers and persons in control of others to ensure the head protection is worn if there is a foreseeable risk of head injury other than by falling. The duty to provide suitable head protection includes the provision of protection other than safety helmets, such as bump caps, where other risks of injury are present. The CHP Regulations also provide for the making of rules and directions where it is necessary to ensure that head protection is worn and a duty on workers to wear head protection where such rules and directions require it.

1 Construction work means the carrying out of any building, civil engineering or engineering construction work and is defined in regulation 2(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

2.6 The introduction of the CHP Regulations led to a substantial reduction in the level of reported head injuries in the construction industry. From the period 1986/87-1989/90 to the last 4 years, non fatal major head injuries fell from an average of 165 to an average 130 a year. A more dramatic reduction has happened with fatal injuries. Comparing the same periods, the average number of deaths from head injury per year on construction sites fell from 48 a year to 14. The wearing of head protection has subsequently become culturally embedded in most parts of the industry, and its use is generally a site rule. The use of the CHP Regulations to enforce the provision and use of head protection on construction sites has been limited2 (and more so in recent years). This calls into question the need for sector-specific controls.

2 The CHP Regulations have been cited 33 times on Notices issued in the previous 13 years and 3 times in approved prosecution activity in the same period.

Rationale for revocation

2.7 Revoking the CHP Regulations would not reduce the level of legal protection for workers in an industry well known to be high risk. The PPE Regulations require the provision and use of head protection as part of a hierarchy of control measures to protect workers against head injury. Taken together, these control measures provide at least an equivalent level of protection against head injury as those contained in the CHP Regulations.

2.8 This, together with regulation 22 of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 (which provides for the drawing up of site rules used widely to ensure that those working on construction sites should wear hard hats) should ensure that there is no reversal in the improvements in safety that have been made in this regard. On the contrary, revocation should benefit construction dutyholders, in particular, small contractors, by simplifying the regulatory framework in relation to the wearing of head protection on construction sites

2.9 HSE estimates that the costs and benefits to industry of the proposal are small and at least roughly balance each other (with a likelihood that there would be some net savings to business). The Impact Assessment (IA) - (Appendix A) estimates that businesses would incur an initial, one-off cost of £370,000 arising from the need to familiarise themselves with the revocation and understand what it implies for them. This is balanced over a 10 year period by yearly savings of £40,000 to new businesses entering the construction industry which would not need to familiarise themselves with the CHP Regulations. These savings are likely to be an underestimate, due to issues with the data available on new businesses, so, on balance, net savings to businesses are likely. HSE would like feedback from consultees about a number of assumptions that have been made in the IA and would be grateful for responses to the questions set out below.

2.10 HSE recognises that it will be important to publicise the proposed change so that the construction industry understands the effect of revoking the CHP Regulations: that there will still be a requirement for employers to provide, and for workers to wear, head protection where there is a risk of head injury. HSE also proposes to review and update existing guidance (either published or on its website) on compliance with the PPE Regulations to ensure it adequately covers the provision and use of head protection on construction sites.