Over the last 12 months, we have been discussing forthcoming changes to the Construction Design and Management Regulations. These have now been laid before parliament and unless there are any last minute changes (this is very unlikely) they will come into force on the 6th of April 2015. They will thereafter be known as CDM2015.

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All projects starting after this date will need to comply with the new regulations. All existing projects must be compliant by 6th October 2015.

They mean significant changes to your duties as an organisation whether you are a client, a designer or a contractor. The aim of the regulations is to simplify the CDM process, reduce bureaucracy and improve safety – particularly on smaller construction site.

The following attempts to answer questions you may have and give some guidance as to what is required.

What constitutes construction under the terms of the regulations?

The definition of construction remains broadly unchanged from the 2007 version: 

Construction means the carrying out of any building, civil engineering or engineering construction work and includes—

(a) the construction, alteration, conversion, fitting out, commissioning, renovation, repair, upkeep, redecoration or other maintenance (including cleaning which involves the use of water or an abrasive at high pressure, or the use of corrosive or toxic substances), de-commissioning, demolition or dismantling of a structure;

(b) the preparation for an intended structure, including site clearance, exploration, investigation (but not site survey) and excavation (but not pre-construction archaeological investigations), and the clearance or preparation of the site or structure for use or occupation at its conclusion;

(c) the assembly on site of prefabricated elements to form a structure or the disassembly on site of the prefabricated elements which, immediately before such disassembly, formed a structure;

(d) the removal of a structure, or of any product or waste resulting from demolition or dismantling of a structure, or from disassembly of prefabricated elements which immediately before such disassembly formed such a structure;

(e) the installation, commissioning, maintenance, repair or removal of mechanical, electrical, gas, compressed air, hydraulic, telecommunications, computer or similar services which are normally fixed within or to a structure.

What are the main changes?

The main changes are as follows:

  • Replacement of the CDM Coordinator (CDMC) role, with the role of Principal Designer (PD)
  • Client must appoint (in writing) a Principal Designer (PD) and Principal Contractor (PC) if a project involves more than one contractor (regardless of notification status) at the earliest practicable opportunity and at least before site work starts
  • Domestic work will be covered under the full scope of the regulations
  • Construction phase health and safety plans will be required for all projects
  • The notification threshold changes to cover projects lasting more than 30 working days and having more than 20 workers working simultaneously at any point in the project, or exceeding 500 person-days

What will be kept?

Most general duties similar to those under the Health and Safety at Work Act and Management Regulations, such as the duties to others and the duties to produce risk assessments, will remain. The following will also be kept:

  • The Client is the person who whom the work is ultimately being undertaken
  • Principles of prevention and designers duties
  • Part 4 and Schedule 2, which set out the specific technical requirements relating to health and safety on construction sites
  • The need to employ competent contractors, staff and others

So as client, what are my duties?

As Client, you need to ensure you consider the project in plenty of time and ensure you have engaged competent persons and organisations to allow the project to proceed safely. As Client, it will be down to you to ensure you have provided sufficient time, resources and arrangements to allow those with duties under the regulations to safely complete the work.

CDM2015 increases the emphasis on the Client to ensure the work is carried out safely. It states:

‘CDM 2015 makes the client accountable for the impact their decisions and approach have on health, safety and welfare on the project.’

‘Most clients, particularly those who only occasionally commission construction work, will not be experts in the construction process and for this reason they are not required to take an active role in managing the work. However, the client is required to make suitable arrangements for managing the project so that health, safety and welfare is secured.’

As a client, you will need to be clear about your expectations and ensure everyone involved in the project communicates fully. As Client you must ensure that the Principal Contractor and Principal Designer, when appointed, are competent to fulfill their duties. If you do not make these appointments (they must be in writing), you will pick up the duties yourselves and be expected to fulfill them.

The main change will be that the Client may now be held accountable for the activities of those undertaking the work.

What do I do if I work for domestic clients?

Domestic clients are in scope of CDM 2015, but their duties as a client are normally transferred to either:

  • The contractor, on a single contractor project
  • The principal contractor, on a project involving more than one contractor
  • The principal designer where there is a written agreement that the principal designer will fulfil those duties

What is a contractor?

The definition of a contractor is broad. A contractor is any person (including a non-domestic client) who, in the course or furtherance of a business, carries out, manages or controls construction work.

Contractors must ensure they are competent to undertake the tasks for which they have been engaged and ensure they cooperate will other parties involved in the project.

What is a Principal Contractor and what is their role?

Where more than one contractor will be required on a project, a Principal Contractor (PC) will need to be appointed in writing by the Client. The PC will need to ensure they:

  • Plan, manage, monitor and coordinate the construction phase of a project
  • Liaise with the client and principal designer
  • Prepare the construction phase plan
  • Organise cooperation between contractors

They must ensure:

  • Suitable site inductions are provided
  • Reasonable steps are taken to prevent unauthorised access
  • Workers are consulted and engaged in securing their health and safety and that welfare facilities are provided

Who is a Principal Designer and what is their role?

A Principal Designer (PD) is a designer appointed in writing by the Client in projects involving more than one contractor. They can be an organisation or an individual with sufficient knowledge, experience and ability to carry out the role. They are responsible for:

  • Eliminating or controlling foreseeable risks
  • Ensuring designers carry out their duties
  • Preparing and providing relevant information to other duty holders
  • Liaise with the Principal Contractor to help in the planning, management, monitoring and coordination of the construction phase

On small projects, the role of the PD will be fairly simple but on larger projects, the PD duties will be more onerous – requiring project management skills. In all cases, the PD will need to have a broad understanding of the construction techniques involved and be familiar with the principles of prevention.

The role of PD can be combined with other duties (PC, Client etc.) but the duty holder needs to be clearly identified and there must be a level of independence between duty holders.

Who are designers and what are their duties?

Designers are those, who as part of a business, prepare or modify designs for a building, product or system relating to construction work.

Anyone from the client to a contractor can be a designer, if they make a decision related to the design of the project. This could range from specialist design skills such as the specification and design of foundations or roofing structures, to the selection of floor coverings, paints, windows etc.

Their main duties:

  • When preparing or modifying designs, to eliminate, reduce or control foreseeable risks that may arise during construction and the maintenance and use of a building once it is built.
  • Provide information to other members of the project team to help them fulfil their duties.

What is a construction phase plan?

The principal contractor should be appointed early enough in the preconstruction phase to help the client meet their duty to ensure a construction phase plan is drawn up before the construction phase starts.

A Construction Phase Plan (CPP) is a site or project specific document that outlines the arrangements for managing safety. It is intended as a guide for those engaged on the project to help them understand and comply with their duties, how the Principal Contractor and client expects the work to be managed and how everyone on site will be engaged in safety.

The construction phase plan must set out the arrangements for securing health and safety for the period during which construction work in a project is carried out. These arrangements include site rules and any specific measures put in place to where work involves one or more of the risks listed in Schedule 3 (regulation 12(2)) of the Regulations.

For projects involving more than one contractor, the principal contractor must ensure the plan is drawn up during the pre-construction phase and before the construction site is set up. It must take into account the information the principal designer holds such as the pre-construction information and any information obtained from designers. During the construction phase, the principal contractor must ensure that the plan is appropriately reviewed, updated and revised so that it remains effective.

For single contractor projects, it is the responsibility of the contractor to ensure the construction phase plan is drawn up.

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