Government Needs Experienced Advisory Team on Setting up a Productive Construction Legislation

Engr. Kayode Valentine Fowode is a safety professional, who as a result of his experience of working with construction regulators in U.K has been clamouring for the introduction of a workable construction Health and Safety Regulation in Nigeria. He has a background in mechanical engineering, from Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Imo State, and did his masters in the U.K at Middlesex University, London, where he studied occupational Health And Safety Management at master’s level, after which he worked with Turner & Townsend Project Management Limited in the U.K, as a HSE consultant and CDM coordinator; he also worked with G4S Secure Solutions (UK) Limited and with contractors before relocating back to Nigeria. He is presently the Managing Consultant and CEO for Kevron Consulting Limited, which is a health, safety and environmental consultancy and training organisation. He speaks about the construction industry with Safety Record Newspaper’s Ass. Editor, Paul Mbagwu, on what the regulators of the industry should have in place to build a more robust and productive construction industry in Nigeria. Excerpt.

You are an advocate for a Construction Health and Safety Legislation, what is that and how does it play out?
Now, the way it works is that if you are a client and you want to get involved in a building project, you need to appoint what we call a Construction Design Management (CDM) Coordinator. As the CDM coordinator sits with the client, he assist the client on the suitability of the design and also advices the client in terms of what the principal contractor is doing during the construction. You are more like the eye of the client, because the client might not know about construction.

But as the CDM coordinator, you have to sit with him and advice him, right from the design stage where the designer puts up his designs and presents it to you as a client, you sit with the designer and ask some critical questions about some major areas. One of those areas is: to identify what we call the principles of designs- which talks about you looking at the building itself right from the design stage and eliminate those things that might pose as health and safety risks to the people that will use the house and people that will maintain the building, and also demolish the building in the future.

Now, the legislation has changed. The role of the CDM coordinator is been taken care of by what we call the principal designer. If you look at the CDM 2015, it places duties on everybody that is involved in a project.
If you read the regulation, it says if you are the client or the owner or main sponsor of the project, you own the building. For example, if a company wants to build a structure, there is a law that clearly states the duty of the company, which is to ensure the safety of the building.

In fact, one of the law states that the company must engage competent designer, competent contractor, principal contractor, and also engage people who are competent to do the building construction.
It also went further to place duty even on the designer, apart from the contract the client has with the designer. For example, if I am the client and I engage you as the designer to design a structure for me, outside the contract, there is a law that binds you for taking up that role, which is part of the CDM regulation law.

As a designer, you must look at all possible risks that might affect those that will use the structure and you must show within your design that you have eliminated all health, safety and environmental risks that will harm those that will use the structure in future. Since the designer knows that he has a duty to do that right from his designs, he is already thinking of health and safety of people. When he is specifying materials, he is specifying materials that he knows are safe. When he is specifying the layout of the building, he is already thi…

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