Prequalification documents will increase burden on architects to ensure safety standards at design stage

Architects will be forced to take greater responsibility for health and safety by having to satisfy new prequalification demands in contract tender documents.

The move is to be unveiled next month by the Construction Confederation, the Major Contractors Group and architect Foster and Partners.

Architects will be asked to provide evidence of design hazard management procedures, and ensure that trained safety co-ordinators are appointed to projects.

The prequalification document is expected to receive Health and Safety Executive approval later this month, in time to be launched during European Health and Safety Week in November.

Andy Sneddon, Construction Confederation health and safety director, said clients could use the document’s requirements as a basis to ensure good practice from designers.

But he warned against clients creating excessive bureaucracy with demands to see exhaustive evidence that criteria are being met. He said: “Prequalification can be used as an honesty system. We would rather clients didn’t ask for extensive evidence at the outset, but if they chose to conduct an audit on the designer they could catch anyone who was not complying.”

Sneddon believes that the project will open the door for more joint recognition schemes, under which organisations would accept external accreditations awarded to designers. The Contractors Health and Safety Assessment Scheme and risk manager National Britannia have already agreed to use the new guidelines in place of independent recognition schemes, a move Sneddon claimed was the first step to universal sector standards.

He said: “Joint recognition arrangements could eventually mean there would be only one hoop to jump through to meet regulations for the whole designing process. Ultimately the goal is to apply that principle across the construction industry.”

Other organisations involved in compiling the document are the Construction Industry Council, the National Contractors Federation and Loughborough University.