The new Construction Design and Management (CDM) Regulations mean that businesses that are contracting for construction work in the UK could risk fines or imprisonment if they do not comply with regulations surrounding site management and safety.
The new regulations, which came into force in April 2015, are designed to give the ‘client’* more accountability for the health, safety and welfare of construction projects ordered.
In its draft guidance on the new regulations, HSE said that its new focus is justified because of the fact that clients have a major influence over how a project is procured and managed and therefore, their decisions impact on health, safety and welfare during construction work.
The headline change is that the client or commercial firm contracting the work will be required to appoint a principal designer and principal contractor whenever any project involves more than one contractor. And with the regulations fixed regardless of how minor the work to be undertaken is, businesses must be vigilant; those who get it wrong could face substantial fines and even imprisonment if convicted.
Arising from a belief that the coordination function in the pre-construction phase was often ‘not always embedded in the project’, resulting in additional costs with little additional value, the new regulations will see the previous ‘CDM coordinator’ role be replaced with a ‘principal designer’. This new role will involve the overseeing of any planning, management and coordination of a project’s pre-construction phase where more than one contractor is involved (e.g. an electrician and a plumber).
In the appointment of the principal designer, it is the client’s responsibility to ensure that the appointee is equipped with the necessary skill, knowledge and experience and capability to fulfill the role.
The most prominent impact that the new regulations will have on firms ordering construction, will undoubtedly be time and resource. All firms are now expected to ensure that construction work on their behalf is carried out without risks to health and safety, including relevant surveys like asbestos. They will also have to ensure that the contractor, or principal contractor if applicable, has drawn up a construction phase health and safety plan for all projects including routine maintenance.
This is the case for all projects regardless of size, meaning that in many cases, the administration of tasks will outweigh their worth. Although HSE guidance suggests that commercial clients should adopt a proportionate approach to the regulations, it’s unclear what approach the body will take to proportionality in practice until the regulations have been in place for a period of time or more guidance is provided.
Aldrock Chartered Surveyors are experienced in CDM Regulations. We provide a straightforward and professional health and safety service to commercial firms contracting work, including:
For more information, help or advice about how to comply with the CDM regulations update, don’t hesitate to contact us on 01254 503200.
*Client refers to an organisation or individual for whom a construction project is carried out