No law, whether past, present, or future, can completely eliminate all the risks and issues in the construction industry. The best we can aspire to achieve is continuous improvement and the establishment of a situation where risks are anticipated, and hazardous situations are swiftly averted.
Legal Notice 136 of 2019 made it mandatory for excavation and demolition work to be supervised by site technical officers. These officers are responsible for ensuring that the contractor adheres to a method statement prepared by a warranted perit. However, even with this legal notice in place, if the method statement itself is flawed, problems can still arise. Moreover, even if the method statement is sound, but the site technical officer is absent during the work, and the contractor proceeds with their own interpretation, it remains problematic.
One positive aspect of Legal Notice 136 was that it required the method statement to be a collaborative effort between the perit, the site technical officer, and the contractor. Indeed, Regulation 8 (1) states as follows:
‘The method statement shall be prepared by a perit in collaboration with the site technical officer and the contractor who are responsible for the works covered by such statement’
The main focus, here, is on the phrase ‘in collaboration,’ its context, and the legislator’s intent. Regulation 8(1) emphasizes the vital need for collaboration among the perit responsible for the method statement, the site technical officer (STO), and the contractor during the method statement’s preparation, prior to commencing any on-site work. This collaboration allows the site technical officer and the contractor to voice their opinions and concerns, ensuring that the contractor has confidence in the feasibility of the guidelines provided by the perit.
Unfortunately, the importance of this ‘in collaboration with’ aspect is frequently underestimated, and many individuals may remain unaware of its significance.
This lack of collaboration continues to emerge as one of the significant challenges plaguing the industry presently.