Steve Ashworth

Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015

Stephen Ashworth - Health and Safety Services Manager

17 March 2015

Key points for CDM designers

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015) will take effect on 6 April 2015 and replace the existing 2007 Regulations. CDM 2015 places greater emphasis on the role of clients (developers and those for whom a construction project is carried out) and the new principal designer role. The current CDM co-ordinator role will be replaced by a requirement to appoint a principal designer where a project involves more than one contractor - even where the work involved is very limited and over quickly. Where more than one contractor is involved, a principal contractor must also be appointed.

Who should be aware of CDM 2015?

All organisations and individuals engaged in construction projects (any building, civil engineering or engineering construction works) in Great Britain including clients, designers and contractors should take note of the changes under CDM 2015. The definition of "construction work" remains effectively unchanged and is widely defined.

Headline changes

CDM 2015 introduces a number of significant changes. The key changes include:

  • Domestic clients get duties albeit normally undertaken by the contractor.
  • The threshold for reporting construction work to HSE will change, resulting in fewer cases being notified
  • The role of CDM co-ordinator is removed and replaced with a principal designer who will be responsible for the planning, management and co-ordination of health and safety during the project's pre-construction phase.
  • Removal of the requirement for individual and corporate competence and replacement with a general requirement for those appointing others to take reasonable steps to satisfy themselves that the appointee has the skill, knowledge, experience and, for organisations, the organisational capability necessary to fulfil the role they are appointed to undertake.

Notification to the Health & Safety Executive

Under CDM 2015, a project is notifiable, and the client must give notice in writing of it to HSE as soon as possible and before construction begins, where the project is either:

  • scheduled to involve more than 30 days of construction and involves 20 or more workers at any one time; or
  • scheduled to exceed 500 person days.

Almost all of the requirements of CDM 2015 apply regardless of whether the project is notifiable. Under CDM 2015 additional duties apply to all jobs where there is more than one contractor involved in the works. This is a significant change and will put a number of additional requirements on duty holders.

Key duties of the designer and principal designer under CDM 2015

The client's duty to appoint a principal designer and a principal contractor is triggered where there is more than one contractor (or it is reasonably anticipated there will be more than one at any time) and not where the project is notifiable. If the required appointments are not made, the client adopts the duties of the principal designer/contractor himself, except in the case of domestic clients where the role of principal designer defaults to the first designer appointed and the principal contractor to the first contractor appointed.

The Principal Designer:

Takes on responsibility for the pre-construction phase and is equivalent to the principal contractor during the construction phase. The principal designer must be a designer (i.e. an organisation that prepares or modifies designs or arranges for this to be done and may include internal technical teams as well as external design organisations).

  • Replaces the CDM Co-coordinator role with a six month transition for existing projects.
  • Responsible for managing and coordinating all of the health and safety aspects of the design and preparation work undertaken for the project and for ensuring the cooperation of everyone on the project.
  • Must, as far as possible, ensure risks are identified, eliminated and controlled to ensure the safety of those carrying out (or affected by) the construction work, those maintaining or cleaning the structure and those using the structure as a workplace.
  • Must ensure that the designers comply with their duties to manage the risks and provide adequate information.
  • Must ensure adequate information is available and received by the contractors and designers to enable all parties to undertake their duties.
  • Produce a Health and Safety File for each job on which they are appointed.

The designers

Fundamentally there are no changes to the role of the designer. In essence, designers must ensure that when preparing or modifying designs they eliminate, reduce or control the risks to those carrying out (or affected by) the construction work, those maintaining or cleaning the structure and those using the structure as a workplace. They must ensure sufficient information is passed on to those who need to use their designs so they can be used safely.

However, the biggest change that designers can expect to see will be the increased pressure from the principal designer to ensure enough is being done to manage the risks. It is expected that the principal designer will have to apply similar pressure to the designers as the principal contractors has to apply to contractors to ensure compliance and to manage their own liability.

Penalties for non-compliance

Failure to comply with requirements under CDM 2015 will remain a criminal offence punishable with unlimited fines and, for individuals, imprisonment.

Next steps

CDM 2015 takes effect on 6 April 2015. All parts of the regulations apply at this date although transitional arrangements will apply to projects commenced before that date so that where a CDM co-ordinator is already in place then the client will have until 6 October 2015 to appoint a principal designer.

Before 6 April 2015, we suggest that potential CDM designers should (as a minimum) ensure they:

  • familiarise themselves with CDM 2015 and the associated draft guidance produced by HSE and by industry available to read and download here
  • check when construction on any projects they have planned is likely to begin in case transitional arrangements under CDM 2015 apply
  • ensure they are able to demonstrate that they have the skills, knowledge and experience necessary to carry out the work in a way that secures health and safety, especially if they intend to undertake the principal designer role
  • those intending to undertake the role of principal designer should also consider what information they require to be given and to provide to ensure they are able to fulfil their duties under CDM 2015
  • ensure that contract terms provide for CDM 2015 and the transitional arrangements.