Written by Steve Mullan 31.01.2024
Pre-construction information is a vital component of construction planning. It’s also a legal requirement under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. But what exactly is pre-construction information, and what makes it so important in construction works in Great Britain?
Pre-construction information (PCI) is an essential component of construction work and a legal requirement in the planning phase of every construction project in Great Britain. At its core, pre-construction information involves collecting, collating, and communicating relevant health and safety information before construction work begins. The aim is to ensure that all parties involved in any project understand the risks and hazards associated with the work, enabling them to take steps to protect themselves and others.
In this CHAS guide, we define pre-construction information, explore who needs it, and explain what makes it so important to health and safety in the construction industry.
Defining Pre-Construction Information
The requirement for pre-construction information — or some form of it — in construction projects goes back to the first iteration of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (i.e., CDM Regulations 1994), which called on the “planning supervisor” for any project to prepare a health and safety plan. The CDM Regulations 2007 would later require clients to provide “pre-construction information”. The CDM Regulations 2015 (under Regulation 2) reconfirm this requirement and provide the following definition of pre-construction information:
“pre-construction information” means information in the client’s possession or which is reasonably obtainable by or on behalf of the client, which is relevant to the construction work and is of an appropriate level of detail and proportionate to the risks involved, including —
(a) information about —(i) the project;(ii) planning and management of the project;(iii) health and safety hazards, including design and construction hazards and how they will be addressed; and
(b) information in any existing health and safety file;
In other words, pre-construction information offers information about the construction project, the construction site, and existing structures or hazards that might affect the health and safety of workers. The pre-construction information pack (PCIP) is the documented means of recording and sharing pre-construction information with all project stakeholders, allowing parties to develop strategies to manage risks and hazards.
Who Needs Pre-Construction Information?
Pre-construction information is essential for all parties involved in a construction project. This includes the project owner or client, architects, engineers, contractors, subcontractors, and any other professionals working on the project. However, different parties have different responsibilities regarding the provision and use of pre-construction information.
Client: The client is the organisation or individual (in smaller projects) for whom the construction project is carried out. Regulation 4 of the CDM Regulations 2015 states, “A client must provide pre-construction information as soon as is practicable to every designer and contractor appointed, or being considered for appointment, to the project.”
Designers: Both principal designers (for projects with multiple contractors) and designers help the client set up the construction project and consider any pre-construction information “to eliminate, so far as is reasonably practicable, foreseeable risks to the health or safety of any person” carrying out construction work and other project responsibilities. (Regulation 9)
Principal Contractors: The principal contractor plans, manages and monitors health and safety matters based on the risks outlined in the pre-construction information. (Regulation 13)
Contractors and Subcontractors: Pre-construction information enables all contractors to supervise, instruct and provide information to their workers to ensure that construction work can be carried out safely. (Regulation 15)
What Is Included In Pre-Construction Information?
Pre-construction information can include a wide range of documentation and data, depending on the nature and scope of the construction project. Some common types of pre-construction information include:
Building Plans and Specifications: These documents provide detailed information on the design, dimensions, materials, and other aspects of the construction project.
Environmental Assessments: These assessments identify potential ecological impacts and outline mitigation measures.
Safety Assessments: These evaluations analyse potential safety hazards and provide recommendations for reducing risks during construction.
Ultimately, the type of pre-construction information you may encounter will depend on the client and the nature of the project you’re working on. For example, Network Rail’s pre-construction information comes from a wide range of complex sources due to their infrastructure’s size, age and intricacy. While not definitive, the organisation highlights four primary sources of pre-construction information: human knowledge, core asset registers, IT systems, and paper and offline digital information.
Why Is Pre-Construction Information Important?
Pre-construction information is vital for several reasons:
Ensuring Safety: Pre-construction information allows all parties involved in a construction project to identify potential risks and hazards associated with construction activities and work sites at the project’s planning phase. This allows clients, designers and contractors to take the necessary precautions to prevent accidents.
Ensuring Compliance: Accurate documentation of pre-construction information enables construction clients, designers and contractors to demonstrate compliance with the UK’s CDM Regulations 2015 and occupational health regulations.
Planning and Coordination: Pre-construction information facilitates efficient planning and coordination among various stakeholders in a construction project, ensuring smooth work from planning to completion.
Cost Control: By identifying potential risks and challenges beforehand, pre-construction information helps prevent costly delays and changes during construction.
Risk Management: Pre-construction information allows for effective risk management strategies, minimising the likelihood of unforeseen problems and project disruptions.
Address Health And Safety Challenges With Accurate Pre-Construction Information
As construction projects continue to grow in scale and complexity, the need for accurate and complete pre-construction information will become even more apparent. For contractors, viewing pre-construction information as more than a means of demonstrating compliance with the law is important. Instead, think of it as a critical guide that allows you to protect the welfare of your employees.
Note: The information and insights in this article are provided as general information and should not be taken as legal advice.
If you want to know more information on CDM regulations or advice on how to carry out Pre-construction information or Construction phase plans, contact us at SM Safety Training & Consultancy; click here.