Homeowners must use safe contractors or potentially face criminal charges from today – CIF

The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) has warned householders that from today, August 1st 2013, they are legally obliged to ensure that any contractor they engage to carry out construction work on their home, is competent or they could potentially face criminal charges in the event of an accident. From this date, homeowners will be required to comply with EU construction health and safety legislation which prior to this date, was confined to commercial and professional organizations.

In short, the homeowner will be defined as a “client” under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations 2013 and must comply with the legal obligations set out in this legislation.

Up until now for domestic work, the homeowner would have had no responsibilities in the event of an accident involving a contractor that they had appointed. However under this new legislation, that will no longer be the case and homeowners who do not comply, may face criminal charges

The new legal requirements will impact on anyone who hires a construction company or operative to carry out construction work.

This change has come about as a result of EU intervention but statistics show that a high percentage of serious and fatal accidents occur on small domestic sites that will now be impacted by this legislation.

“We want the Irish public and Irish businesses to be aware these legal requirements and what it will mean for them if they are undertaking any construction work,” said CIF Director General Tom Parlon. “If an accident occurs on your site you could face criminal charges if you have not carried out basic checks to ensure the contractor is compliant. This underlines the importance of homeowners engaging construction companies who maintain proper health and safety standards, who use properly trained personnel and have the appropriate insurance in place.   “This will apply to construction projects of every size. Everything from building a house or an extension, carrying out retrofitting or even just a small job such as fixing a window.

“Everyone wants to pay the lowest possible price for a project they are undertaking. That is human nature. In the current climate that has led to a lot of black economy construction work taking place which has ignored health and safety requirements set by the State.

“Compliance with these requirements creates a cost that compliant companies and individuals must bear. Not complying with these legal obligations gives companies operating in the black market a clear price advantage. Householders must be aware that from today onwards, in the event of serious accident, they may face criminal charges if they have ignored this issue.”

“The CIF is encouraging homeowners who are undertaking any construction work – from large scale projects to minor repairs – to carry out basic safety checks on the contractors they are considering and ensure they have appropriate insurance and safety training in place. Failure to do so could cause real problems for the client if any accident were to occur during the course of their work,” Mr. Parlon concluded.