A.8 Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005

Noise at work can cause hearing damage that is permanent and disabling. Noise at work can interfere with communications and make warnings harder to hear. It can also reduce people's awareness of their surroundings, i.e. standing next to a percussion rig or diesel engines during excessive work, sampling and especially SPT tests. Attention is drawn to the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 [154] which cover this. For outside work, the driller and team are required to have ear protection, and although supervisors can reduce impact by distance, ear protection is still important.

A.9 Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005

Hand-arm vibration (HAV) can arise from the use of hand-held power tools and can cause significant ill health (painful and disabling disorders of the blood vessels, nerves and joints). Hand-held tools include using jack hammers, hand-held window samplers and coring rigs. The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 [155] place specific duties on employers to identify and control the risk of employees' exposure to hand-arm vibration. Data is available for the majority of such equipment and includes exposure action values which indicate the daily level when control measures are required and exposure limit values which indicate maximum daily levels.

A.10 Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH)

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) [156] cover the protection of people at work and members of the public who might be exposed to health risks and the environment arising from hazardous substances.

The COSHH Regulations only apply to substances which can cause harm to human health. Safety data sheets are provided for chemicals and dangerous substances to be used by the employer as a basis to carry out a COSHH (risk) assessment. Control measures are required to take account of how the substance is used, handled and stored to avoid entry into or damage to the human body. Employers are also required to monitor the health of employees exposed to substances during their work.

For mixed chemicals, the manufacturers' safety data sheet (SDS) is unlikely to provide guidance on the effects and expert advice might be required.

Bacterial hazards such as leptospirosis, anthrax, etc. do not have safety data sheets, but are still considered to fall under COSHH.

Any contaminated land investigation could involve COSHH substances.

A.11 Confined Spaces Regulations 1997

The Confined Spaces Regulations 1997 [157] defines a "confined space" as any space of an enclosed nature where there is a risk of death or serious injury from hazardous substances or dangerous conditions (e.g. lack of oxygen or increase in carbon dioxide concentrations). Other than obvious location-specific spaces (e.g. manholes, sewers), trial pits and shafts (especially those which are required to be entered) can easily become confined spaces, either because of ground gas or because ground can collapse or groundwater can flood.

A.12 Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012

The presence of asbestos fibres or asbestos containing materials (e.g. fragments of asbestos cement sheeting) in the ground can present risks to health and requires particular care in the selection of appropriate sampling techniques and design of sampling procedures. Care is required in ensuring that any asbestos containing samples are identified before the sample goes to the chemical or geotechnical laboratory.

Breathing in air containing asbestos fibres can lead to asbestos-related diseases, mainly cancers of the lungs and chest lining. Asbestos is only a risk to health if asbestos fibres are released into the air and breathed in. The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 [158] help duty holders (building owners and developers), people carrying out asbestos surveys and those with specific responsibilities for managing the risks from asbestos to control the risk and discharge their duties.

NOTE See AGS Site Investigation Asbestos Risk Assessment — For the Protection of Site Investigation [159].

A.13 New Roads and Street Works Act (NRSWA) 1991

The New Roads and Street Works Act (NRSWA) 1991 [160], together with the Street Works (Qualification of Supervisors and Operatives) Regulations 2009 [161], is investigation work that disrupts the highway (roads and pavements). This work requires all operatives who open up the highway to be NRSWA trained and that each road opening project has a NRSWA trained supervisor. In addition, traffic management is required to be set up, maintained and dismantled by NRSWA trained operatives.

Working on or adjacent to roads is hazardous; this can include road traffic accidents which can occur on site and in travel to and from site. This latter hazard is increased when travel covers long distances.

A.14 Avoiding danger from underground services

HSE guidance, HSG47 [3], provides a framework to reduce the risk of encountering, exposing and potentially damaging underground services. The guidance outlines a three-step approach — plan (including obtaining and consulting maps and plans), locate/identify and then excavate/penetrate the ground. It also discusses safe digging techniques, i.e. vacuum excavation, utility surveys and use of cable locating devices, i.e. Cable Avoidance Tools (CAT) and Genny and Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR).

PAS 128 provides additional non-mandatory guidance on best practice.

A.15 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at Work Regulations 1992

PPE is defined in the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Regulations 1992 [162] as "all equipment (including clothing affording protection against the weather) intended to be worn or held by a person at work and which protects them against one or more risks to their health or safety", e.g. safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, ear defenders, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses.

A.16 Respiratory protective equipment (RPE)

HSE guidance, HSG53 [163] provides essential guidance for the correct selection and use of respiratory protective equipment (RPE) in the workplace, which assists companies in complying with their duties under COSHH and the PPE Regulations.

A.17 Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 [164] requires all workplaces to be subject to fire risk assesments, including construction sites.

A.18 Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002

The intention of the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 [165] is to reduce the risk of a fatality or serious injury resulting from a "dangerous substance" igniting and potentially exploding. Such atmospheres can be caused during the liberation of ground gases in coal workings, landfills or similar.