Health and safety is of paramount importance when it comes to construction projects and the Construction (Design and Management) or CDM regulations are designed to ensure that these issues are properly considered as a project progresses. The ultimate aim, of course, being to ensure that the risk of harm to those who build, use and maintain structures is reduced.

The regulations were introduced in 1994, following the publication of a European Directive two years earlier, and were revised in 2007 and again in April 2015.

Here, concluding our two-part series, we take a look at roles and responsibilities under CDM 2015. (You can find the first part of this series, which explores the origins of CDM regulation and some of the most recent changes here).

Roles and responsibilities

The role of the client

The client must make ‘suitable arrangements’ to manage a project including allocation of time and resources and provide pre-construction information.

He or she must ensure the appointment in writing of the principal designer and principal contractor (before the construction phased begins). Where a principal designer is not appointed the client performs this role by default.

The client is also responsible for ensuring that the construction phase plan is drawn up by the principal contractor and the health and safety file and revision inspection is prepared by the principal designer and that both comply with their own duties.

Where a project is notifiable, the client must also take responsibility for notifying the Health and Safety Executive.

The 2015 regulations remove the exemption for ‘non-commercial’ clients. Domestic clients (as defined) should have their duties carried out by:

  • The contractor (where there is only one)
  • The principal contractor (where there is more than one contractor)
  • The principal designer (where a written agreement exists that he or she will fulfil these duties).

If no appointments are made by a domestic client then the designer in control of the pre-construction phase is deemed to be the principal designer and the contractor in control of the construction phase will be deemed to be the principal contractor.

The role of the designer

A designer must ensure that they are satisfied that the client is aware of their own duties before commencing work. When preparing or modifying design they must seek (using general preventative principles) to eliminate so far as is reasonably practicable, foreseeable risk to any person working on, maintaining or using the structure. Where risk cannot be eliminated they must control it, inform the principle designer and include it in the health and safety file.

The role of the principal designer

The principal designer must plan, manage and monitor the pre-construction phase and coordinate to ensure (as far as is reasonably practicable) the project is carried out without risks to health and safety. They need to be mindful of design and organisational issues and of the overall timeframe as they seek to identify, eliminate or control (so far as is reasonably practicable) risks to people working on, maintaining or using the structure. Additionally, the principal designer has responsibility for ensuring other designers comply with their duties (prescribed in Regulation 9) and ensure everyone involved in pre-construction co-operate with the client, principal designer and each other and assist the client in providing required information.

The principal designer must liaise with principal contractor throughout a project sharing appropriate information in a timely manner and assisting the principal contractor by providing relevant info to feed into the pre-construction phase plan. He or she is also responsible for preparing and regularly reviewing and updating the health and safety file.

Some points to note:

  • Competent designers will be expected to be capable of discharging the principal designer role on smaller projects if instructed by the client.
  • The principal designer role should only be taken on if someone has the capability (or can call on someone who has, to help them discharge the duties).
  • Large or complex projects may require the appointment of a CDM advisor to advise and assist.
  • When appointed as principal designer, employing someone else to carry out the role on your behalf, does not transfer the legal liability.
The role of the principal contractor

The principal designer must draw up the construction phase plan and plan, manage, monitor and co-ordinate the construction phase to ensure (as far as is reasonably practicable) that the project is carried out without risks to health and safety. They need to be mindful of design and of the overall timeframe and organise the co-operation between contractors, ensuring client compliance.

The principal contractor must make and maintain arrangement s to enable development, production and checking of health and safety and consult with workers, ensuring parties can inspect or copy information pertinent to health and safety.

The role of contractors

The contractor must ensure client awareness and plan, manage and monitor their workers (and those they control). He or she must assess workers and provide supervision, instructions and information and comply with principal contractor’s directions.

What has happened to CDM coordinators?

As of 6 October 2015 CDM coordinators no longer exist as a statutory appointment.  Following the publication of the regulations in April 2015, a six month period of transition allowed any existing CDM coordinator appointment to run until October 2015.

Going forward, some of the CDM coordinator’s role has been taken on by the new principal designer, but it is possible for projects where  principal designer or principal contractor hadn’t been appointed under the previous regime, it is possible that the client has taken on the duties by default.

A new client-centred approach

Under the CDM 2015 regulations the client is considered to have most influence on the health and safety of the construction project, with responsibility for setting budget, programme and engaging a capable team. Client duties have been elevated to become ‘must do’s.

A range of guidance is produced by the CITB and HSE but there is no approved code of practice. Managing Health and Safety in Construction Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. Guidance on Regulations (L153) externallink replaces L144 but is styled as guidance only.

Previously: CDM 2015 - What's changed?  (1/2)