There are several levels of construction safety manager, and they go right to the top. The chances are that the person right at the pinnacle of the equation hasn’t had any direct construction experience, so in that respect, they’re amongst the worst qualified to make decisions. That would apply if they worked in isolation, but the true test of a good construction safety manager is how they use the people around them.
We have one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. We have to take responsibility for our actions, and their consequences on others around us, but we also need to rely on construction safety managers to ensure that the basic structure of our Health and Safety requirements are met, and we have access to everything we need to ensure we are safe.
Ultimately, that is the only real job of a construction safety manager. They cannot ensure every worker is safe at all times. They cannot inspect every net every week. They cannot be there to catch everyone who falls from a scaffold. No, they have to facilitate our safe working practices in construction. In that sense, they differ little from other H&S offical in any other workplace.
The real difference is the level at which they work. Any high ranking construction safety manager should ensure high quality safety routines and programs to enable ALL the on-site workers to work without fear of undue accidents. One of the key aspects of construction safety manager jobs is that they require the person in question to take full responsibility for the site safety. They have the responsibility to establish, co-ordinate, monitor and manage any H&S concerns.
These rules change when we talk about subcontracting, which is a big part of any site work. While the construction safety manager has responsibility for the prime contracting work, a sub contractor has it upon his shoulders to show a demonstrable high quality safety plan for their work. That isn’t to say that sub contracting work doesn’t need monitoring and managing by the construction safety manager. It does.
By their very nature, sub contractors understand their business and trade better than you do. After all, that’s mostly why you hired them. The problem is that while they may be completely au fait with their own safety regulations, they still have to adhere to the general ones based on site. It is the construction safety manager’s job to ensure that they comply with the on-site safety regulations. This will be done mainly through discussion with the sub contractor. If every contractor had to undergo lengthy training for every site they worked on, we would never get anything done.
Just remember that while your construction safety manager may seem an annoyance at times, his job is solely to protect you. If your construction safety manager isn’t doing that effectively, for whatever reason, it is your responsibility to ensure that they are reported.
Ensafe Planning Solutions offers a downloadable construction site safety plan for construction contractors who are unable to write their own due to a lack of time, money or knowledge. The plan is compliant with current UK HSE legislation and can be adapted to most construction sites in the UK. Furthermore, Ensafe offers free guidelines for those wanting to write up their own safety plans on the website.