Guidelines for Home Owners

Health & Safety Guidelines for Home Owners

This guide tells you what you need to know and do when you are having construction work done in your home. This guide has been created in light of new responsibilities for homeowners under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations. The regulations apply to construction work that you pay to get done in your home. They do not apply to DIY (Do it yourself) jobs. For more information on these regulations contact Declan Noonan & Associates. 

What do you have to do?

By law, you have to:

1. determine the competency of people doing paid construction work for you,

2. appoint project supervisors if required,

3. keep the safety file for the work as appropriate,


4. let the Health and Safety Authority know if your project is going to take longer than 30 days or more than 500 person days (person days mean the number of days the work takes multiplied by the number of people doing the work).

Each of these responsibilities is explained below.

1. Determine competency of people doing paid construction work for you
Anybody you use to carry out design (for example, draw up plans for your house) or construction work must be competent to carry out the work and must allocate enough resources to make sure that the work can be carried out in a safe manner. Resources include time and equipment.

By law, the people you appoint have to demonstrate to you (as their ‘client’) that they are competent to carry out the work and have allocated, or will allocate, the necessary resources to do the work safely.

How do I assess the competency of contractors?
By law, it is up to your designer or contractor to demonstrate their competency to you. You should also ask some simple questions. Contact Declan Noonan & Associates for advice.

2. Appoint project supervisors
You must appoint project supervisors if:

• there is more than one contractor involved in the work, or
• there is a particular risk (see below), or
• the work is going to last more than 30 days or more than 500 person days.

What is a particular risk?
The regulations list a range of works involving particular risks to safety, health and welfare of people at work. Works which could be of relevance to a typical construction project in your home include:

• works that put a person at risk of falling from height, for example, roofwork where access is restricted,
• burial under an earthfall, for example, deep excavations in poor soil conditions,
• works near high voltage power lines, for example, building a house on a site which has existing power lines crossing the site,
• works exposing a person to the risk of drowning, for example, construction of wall beside or near a pond or river,
• work involving the setting up or taking down of heavy parts, for example, installation of precast floors or assembly of steel beams, or
• work involving asbestos.

Example 1 where project supervisors are not needed
You hire a bricklayer to build a wall in your garden. There is only one contractor, there is no particular risk and the work will last five days. In this case you don’t need to appoint project supervisors. The bricklayer will have to demonstrate to you that they are competent to complete the work.

Example 2 where project supervisors are needed
You are getting an extension built to the side of your house. There will be a number of contractors and particular risks, and the work is due to take 100 days. You must appoint project supervisors in writing. You need to appoint two project supervisors, one for the design of the extension and one for the construction stage. However, these two roles can be  done by the same person as long as they are competent to carry out the work.

How do I appoint project supervisors?
When you are appointing someone, you must appoint them in writing at the start of the design process and at the start of the construction stage. The project supervisors must accept these appointments in writing to you. For information on how to complete this procedure contact Declan Noonan & Associates. 

Who do I appoint as project supervisors?
Declan Noonan & Associates have the necessary qulaifications, experience and insurance to fulfill the role of Project Supervisor Design Process (PSDP) or Project Supervisor Construction Stage (PSCS). Contact Declan Noonan & Associates for further information. We can fulfill the  various safety-related duties they must meet in the project, particularly around co-ordination of the works and the co-operation of the workers.

The new regulations will also affect the practice of building a house by ‘direct labour’. ‘Direct labour’ is where you decide not to hire a main builder and instead organise the different trades people or contractors to carry out the works. The regulations now require that a project supervisor(s) oversees the co-ordination of the various designers and contractors and makes sure that there is co-operation between them so that the works can be carried out safely.

You can, if you like, appoint yourself as a project supervisor; however, you must have the necessary knowledge and competency to be able to do this job. The appointment must also be made in writing. Remember, the project supervisors control key safety decisions on site and if you don’t properly carry out these decisions it could lead to serious and even fatal accidents. Contact Declan Noonan & Associates for more information. 

Safety and Health Plan
The PSDP will produce an initial Safety and Health Plan for the project. This must be passed on to the PSCS when they are appointed.

3. Keep safety file
If you appoint Declan Noonan & Assocaites as project supervisors, in our role as Project Supervisor Design Process (PSDP) we will prepare a safety file. This file will contain the information needed to safely maintain the building and or structure and have the information needed to carry out future work on the building or structure. We will then give you the Safety File when at the end of the works. You need to keep this file and give it to anybody carrying out future works on the building or structure, or pass on the file to any new owner.

4. Let the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) know if your project is due to last longer than 30 days or more than 500 person days
If your project is due to last longer than 30 days or 500 person days, then you must inform the HSA> Contact Declan Noonan & Associates for informtaion on how to do this.

Common sense health and safety precautions
When you are having construction work done and builders are in your home, your home is their workplace. This can affect your safety and that of your family. You should take the following precautions:

• employ the right people for the work, designers and builders,
• discuss safety with your builder or designer before work starts,
• warn children of the dangers and make sure they stay away from the work,
• separate works from your home life (where you can), and
• make sure that the work area is secured at the end of each day by the contractor.

If you think that works are unsafe, or have any concerns at all in relation to construction safety, contact Declan Noonan & Associates. 

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