The impact of occupational health and safety regulations on prevention through design in construction projects: perspectives from Spain and the United Kingdom

BACKGROUND: Since the mid-1990s, Prevention through Design (PtD) has become increasingly prevalent in the built environment. The acceptance of PtD has largely been due to the removal or reduction of risks during the execution phase of construction projects. European States have had the added impetus of national legislation. OBJECTIVE: This paper analyzes the influence of European Union Directive 92/57/EEC on occupational safety and health injury prevention in the project design phase. METHODS: Qualitative methods comprised individual semi-structured interviews and focus groups with a panel of experts. Sixty individuals from construction and related professions (architects, engineers, constructors, developers, and other construction experts) answered 17 key questions to establish national perceptions of the effectiveness of Directive 92/57/EEC in Spain and the United Kingdom (UK). RESULTS: The implementation of PtD in the project design phase in the UK is clearer since the regulations explicitly state the obligations of project designers as well as those of the coordinator. Interviews with Spanish experts show that, in Spain, the prevention culture is less frequently realized. CONCLUSIONS: The most significant differences between the European Directive and national regulations which influence PtD are linked to the Health and Safety Coordinator, and Health and Safety documents.