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Cooperation on health and safety at temporary or mobile work sites in the building and construction industry

WEA Guideline F.3.4 on Cooperation on health and safety at temporary or mobile work sites in the building and construction industry

May 2011
Replaces WEA Guideline F.2.7

Health and safety procedures at temporary or mobile work sites, including building and construction works, March 2006

These WEA Guidelines describe the special regulations that apply when organising cooperation on health and safety at temporary or mobile work sites in the building and construction industry. Special rules exist for precisely this sector because frequently there are particular working environment challenges at these work sites. 

In addition to the rules described in these guidelines, virtually all the ordinary regulations on health and safety cooperation also apply. These regulations deal with the tasks of a health and safety organisation, the annual working environment review, the selection and appointment of health and safety organisation members and the employers' obligations (1), (2) and (3).

1. Cooperation on health and safety is mandatory.

All companies with employees are bound by the rules on health and safety cooperation. Work carried out for an employer is defined in more detail in section 3, where there is also a description of who to include when calculating the number of employees in relation to the requirement to set up a health and safety organisation.
An employer is responsible for ensuring that work is performed in full compliance with health and safety requirements, while management and employees are obliged to cooperate in health and safety work. The employer is therefore obliged to involve work supervisors and other employees and, equally, employees and managers are obliged to participate in the cooperation (1), (2) and (3).

These obligations are in keeping with a long tradition of cooperation in the area of health and safety. This means that employers, supervisors, employees and other stakeholders, alongside their obligation to cooperate, must fulfil their usual tasks by ensuring that work conditions are safe and healthy.

2. What are temporary or mobile work sites?

Temporary or mobile work sites are defined by one or more persons from a company working away from the company's fixed work site.

This work may take place, for example, at another company's workplace, at a construction site, for private home-owners, on roads and other outdoor areas and is by its nature temporary.

Building and construction work is typically carried out at temporary or mobile work sites. 
In the following section these work sites are referred to as the remote work site and the company's fixed work site is referred to as the home site.

3. Do the special regulations for temporary or mobile work sites apply to your company?

If the individual employer has at least five employees at the remote work site and their work continues for a period of at least 14 days then cooperation on health and safety at the remote work site must take place via a health and safety organisation. 

To find out if there are employees and how many, you have to determine whether work is being carried out for an employer. 

To determine whether this is work for an employer you must look at,

  • whether the persons are subject to instruction and checks during their work
  • whether the persons are obliged to make their labour available
  • whether the employer provides a work space, machinery, tools, materials or other necessary equipment for carrying out the work
  • whether the employer bears the risk for the achieved result

In special cases of doubt, a certain weight may be given to whether a person receives remuneration for the work done, but this consideration can only in very exceptional circumstances be given added significance.

The rules do not, however, apply when the work is done

  • in the employer's private household
  • by members of the employer's family belonging to the household
  • by military personnel when conducting actual military service.

3.1. Are there at least five employees at the remote work site?

All employees at the remote work site that are not company managers or work supervisors must be counted when calculating how many employees there are.
A work supervisor is defined under the Danish Working Environment Act as an employee whose work exclusively or predominantly consists of managing or supervising work in a company or department on behalf of the employer.
Externally hired labour, part-time and casual workers also count.
Temporary substitute workers must also be counted in the workforce of the company where they work as temporary workers.

3.2. Health and Safety Organisation, remote site and home site

When the threshold of 5 employees at the remote work site is reached, there may be an obligation to establish a health and safety organisation at the temporary or mobile work site, even though there is no health and safety organisation at the home site.

There may also be an obligation to set up health and safety organisations both at the remote work site and at the home site. In these cases it will be a joint health and safety organisation, with one part operating in the home company and one part at the remote site. To the extent required, the employer must ensure that cooperation between the remote health and safety organisation and the home health and safety organisation is coordinated and that the members of the health and safety organisation have the opportunity to coordinate their cooperation. 

However the health and safety organisation is organised at home and remotely, the health and safety organisation must handle both overall and daily tasks for all employees in the entire company (2) and (3).

4. What rules apply for the health and safety organisation at the home site?

The home site health and safety organisation must be set up according to the general health and safety organisation rules (2) and (3). This means that when a company has ten or more employees, a health and safety organisation must be set up. The health and safety organisation is an internal organisation of the health and safety cooperation in the company, in which the key persons are the employer or employer's representative, the elected health and safety representative and the appointed work supervisors.

In building and construction works, employees at remote sites should not be counted in the setting up of a health and safety organisation at the home site if they are exclusively employed to carry out one particular building and construction job at a remote work site. If an employee is exclusively hired for a certain job it means this is a temporary employment that ends when the job is completed. If the employee in question then follows the company to a new construction site, the employee must be counted at the home site also and from this point in time.

5. What rules apply for the health and safety organisation at the remote site?

The health and safety organisation structure at a remote site depends firstly on the number of employees at the work site. Secondly, the structure at the remote site should be seen in the context of the structure at the home site.
See the counting rules in section 4.

5.1. Fewer than five employees at the remote work site and fewer than ten employees in the entire company

If there are fewer than five employees at the remote site and fewer than ten employees in the entire company, health and safety cooperation must be systematised but there is no obligation to set up a health and safety organisation. In daily work, health and safety cooperation is conducted through ongoing direct contact and dialogue between the employer, employees and any supervisors. A review of the health and safety environment must be held once a year in the company.

The employer must continually ensure that employees have the opportunity to make health and safety proposals and that they receive all necessary information that has implications for health and safety. The employer must also ensure that the employees are consulted when new technology is planned and implemented.

5.2. Fewer than five employees at the remote work site and at least ten employees in the entire company

If there is a health and safety organisation at the home site and there are fewer than five employees at the remote site these employees are covered by the existing health and safety organisation (2) and (3). There must, therefore, be sufficient capacity and resources in the health and safety organisation to perform the tasks required at the remote site.

Remote site employees will often belong to a specific department or area of the home company. This is the case, for example, with electricians from a construction department and fitters from an installation and assembly department. 

In those cases where there is one health and safety group that covers a department or area in the home company it will be natural for the staff at the remote work site to be covered by this group. The remote workers have the right to vote and may be elected for the health and safety group in the home company. The employer must ensure they have access to voting and the opportunity to stand for election.

5.3. At least five employees at the remote work site and 10-34 employees in the entire company

If there are at least five employees at the remote work site and 10-34 employees in the entire company, that part of the health and safety organisation that operates at the remote work site will consist of one or more work supervisors and one or more health and safety representatives. Work supervisors to serve in the health and safety organisation must be appointed from among the supervisors at the remote site and the health and safety representatives for the health and safety organisation must be selected from among the employees at the remote site. The employer or an employer representative will serve as chairperson. The number of members will be decided by the employer in consultation with the employees and supervisors.
 
In general, the health and safety organisation at the remote site should consist of at least three persons who will form one organisational unit. If it proves necessary in order to carry out the tasks satisfactorily, the unit should consist of several work supervisors and/or health and safety representatives (2). 

In practice, the health and safety organisation often consists of two people. A typical situation can be that an employer appoints the work supervisor as the employer's representative in the health and safety organisation because the employer is not present/active at the remote work site. Another situation may be that there are no supervisors/managers in a company, for example, and that the employer also performs these functions.
 
There must be at least the same number of health and safety representatives as supervisors in the health and safety organisation. The aim is to ensure that supervisors and health and safety representatives participate equally in health and safety organisation work. For the health and safety organisation to function correctly, it is necessary to have both the overview of the company which supervisors have and the experience that health and safety representatives possess. Supervisors and health and safety representatives may in specific situations be interchangeable in relation to resolving tasks, if one or other is not present. Measures decided upon in the absence of some members must be communicated to the absent members as soon as possible.

5.4. At least five employees at the remote work site and at least 35 employees in the entire company

If there are at least 35 employees in the entire company, the company must have a two-tier health and safety organisation with health and safety groups and a health and safety committee. At least one health and safety group must be set up at remote sites where there are at least five employees for a period of at least 14 days. The final number of health and safety groups both at the home company and at remote work sites is to be determined by the employer in consultation with the employees and work supervisors based on a subsidiarity principle (3). 

In building and construction works at temporary work sites a health and safety committee must also be set up at the temporary work site when the individual employer has at least 35 employees working at the remote work site for a period of at least four weeks. This is described in more detail in section 5.5. 

In building and construction works it may be necessary that one supervisor participates in several health and safety groups. The reason for this is that work gang foremen and piece work contractors employed on a particular building and construction site do not usually fulfil the conditions to be a work supervisor.

5.5. At least 35 employees at a remote work site

In building and construction works at temporary work sites a health and safety committee must also be set up at the remote work site when the individual employer has at least 35 employees working at the remote work site for a period of at least four weeks. All the employer's workers at the remote site should be counted when assessing if a health and safety committee needs to be set up. This is the case whether the workers are employed for a specific job or have a more fixed employment relation to the company. Company managers and work supervisors should not be counted. 

The health and safety committee consists of representatives of the health and safety groups at the remote site and a chairperson. 
At work sites where there one or two health and safety groups have been set up, the health and safety committee consists of the group(s) members and a chairperson. 

At work sites where there are more than two health and safety groups, the health and safety representatives elect two of their members to the health and safety committee. The work supervisors also elect two representatives from among themselves to the health and safety committee. 

The employer or employer's representative is chairperson of the health and safety organisation at the remote site. A work supervisor who already sits in a health and safety group may be appointed by the employer as chairperson. In this case the committee consists of either two or four members. 

Only members of the health and safety groups at the remote site have the right to vote and be elected to the health and safety committee.

6. The annual health and safety review

All companies must hold an annual health and safety review where the following year's cooperation on health and safety is organised. The review can deal with the state of the working environment in the company and which challenges the company faces (1), (2) and (3). 
 
In companies where a part of the work is performed away from the company's home site, care must be taken to also review and discuss the health and safety conditions at remote work sites.

7. Cooperation between several employers at the same work site

The regulations for cooperation between several employers and others at the same work site are a supplement to the health and safety work that is done in the individual company. The regulations help ensure that all parties at a work site make efforts in health and safety work, whether they are employers, supervisors or employees and regardless which company they are employed by. The regulations cover not only health and safety organisations but all employees at the work site. 
The rules for cooperation between several employers having work carried out at the same site also apply to self-employed operators without employees. 

All employers having work performed at the same site and all employees at the work site must cooperate to ensure safe and healthy working conditions. It may be necessary to draw up guidelines to avoid misunderstandings. For cooperation at all levels to work effectively, all parties working at the specific work site must be familiar with any guidelines. 

Each employer must ensure the participation of the health and safety organisation in this cooperation. 

Employers are required to inform each other about the risks associated with their individual work assignments at the work site. The aim is to ensure that an employer who is not performing the work in question can take precautions in relation to the employer's own workers after receiving information about the issues that exist. Individual employers are obliged to disclose this information to their employees. 

All employees and employers working at a work site where several employers are operating must abide by the regulations applicable to their own work and the regulations that apply for companies' cooperation as well as the regulations in the executive order on the client's obligations. The same applies to self-employed contractors without employees. The aim is to ensure that all work on the site can be performed safely and without health risks.

All employees and employers that work in another company's area must - in addition to the rules for the work they perform - abide by the health and safety rules that apply at the company where they will work.

 

8. Safety meetings and councils

On building and construction sites, the client must ensure that safety meetings are held when there are two or more employers who together employ more than ten workers at the same time at the same work site. The purpose of the safety meetings is to coordinate the individual employers' health and safety work (4). The safety meetings must be held at the work site. 

The employer or their representative and health and safety representatives and work supervisors in the health and safety organisation will participate in the meeting. Individual employers are obliged to ensure this can take place. If a company has fewer than five employees on a construction site, the employer or the employer's representative must take part in the safety meetings. In the case of self-employed contractors without employees, the company owner must take part. 

On building and construction projects where there is a combined total of more than 100 employees for a period of at least four weeks a health and safety council may be set up (4).