The Safety Coordinator: An Indispensable Actor on a Construction Site

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“The Royal Decree of January 25, 2001, published in the Moniteur – Belgian Official Gazette of February 7, 2001, made ​​applicable in the Belgian law the safety requirements imposed by the European Directive of June 24, 1992 relating to temporary or mobile construction sites.” This regulation requires, since May 1, 2001, three new categories of obligations in the field of safety on construction sites:

  • the obligation to coordinate security when the work is performed by various contractors
  • the obligation to notify most of working sites to the General Division for the Monitoring of Well-being at the Workplace
  • the obligation to respect specific conditions when services are executed by a single contractor

This decree clearly reduces the risk of accidents on construction sites. It applies when more than one contractor work on a construction site.

The Role of the Safety Coordinator

The main role of the coordinator is to provide security and risks control, due to the collaboration of different contractors and trades on a construction site.
There are two types of coordinators:

  • The project coordinator who supports the coordination of stakeholders in a project (architect, developer, etc.). He intervenes during the project’s design.
  • The building realization coordinator who is responsible for managing the activities on the site itself, intervenes during the project.

One person can have these two roles, which are to be played in two separate phases of the project. The project coordinator studies first the security issues on the site and takes all necessary measures to minimize the risk of accident. He must, for this purpose, establish a safety and health plan incorporating required security measures, as well as the arrangements to be made in case of accident. The building realization coordinator ensures compliance with preventive measures implemented during the project design. He should therefore regularly visit the site and especially during critical phases of operations.

Designation of the Safety Coordinator

The coordinator should be appointed before the work begins. No contractor may begin his work before the coordinator has been appointed. For projects with an area greater than or equaling to 500 m2, it is the client who will appoint the safety coordinator. If the area is less than 500 m2 is the architect who will designate it.

Penalties

Regarding safety on construction sites, Belgium is not a good student. Over 50% of security coordinators in Belgium confirms that they have been incorporated into the construction project at the time of its inception. And yet the penalties are severe: a €5 to 10,000 fine and one year imprisonment. In case of accident the fine can go up to more than €22,000 and two years imprisonment.

Understanding risks and risk management approaches specific in the construction sector is important in coming up with strategies in mitigating, transferring, and insuring risks to safeguard everyone’s safety while on site. Supplement this reading with some valuable tips on construction risk management.

Topics: Health & safety

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