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Tue April 20 2021

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Principal designer replaces CDM co-ordinator as new regime begins

7 Apr 15 New construction safety regulations have come into force this week.

Revisions to the CDM regs are intended to reduce paperwork as well as improve site safety
Revisions to the CDM regs are intended to reduce paperwork as well as improve site safety

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 place greater responsibility on clients for the conduct and decisions of the people they employ to oversee health and safety.

All contractors, consultants and clients now face greater liability and risk of legal action if their health & safety management procedures fall short.

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 replace the previous 2007 version and are intended to reduce bureaucracy while ensuring safer working practices and environments across the construction industry. The updated regulations came into force on 6th April 2015.

Construction clients are now required by law to meet a number of requirements in ensuring health and safety on construction projects. They must:

  • assemble a competent professional team and ensure that the roles of team members are clear
  • ensure sufficient time and resources are allocated at appropriate stages of the project to adequately and appropriately deal with health and safety issues 
  • ensure that there are effective mechanisms in place for project team communication and that they work. 
  • provide suitable welfare facilities for the duration of the construction work. 

 When a client delegates these responsibilities to a professional team or contractor, it must ensure that such parties have the skill, training, expertise and capacity to carry these out.  If the wrong party is appointed, responsibility may fall on the client.

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Also the client is required to appoint a ‘principal designer’.  The principal designer will plan, manage and monitor the pre-construction phase and co-ordinate matters relating to health and safety.

This effectively abolishes the previous role of CDM co-ordinator. Principal designer is a new role with additional responsibilities to that of CDM co-ordinator, and holders must come from the ranks of designers. This means that existing CDM co-ordinators will not necessarily be suitable for the role, and firms will need to make sure that they manage the transfer from an existing CDM co-ordinator to a new principal designer correctly.

Construction lawyer Charles Brien at HBJ Gateley said: “While the new legislation is designed to simplify health and safety requirements, the onus is now on clients to understand the subtle shift in liability and to change their policies and practices accordingly. 

“Ignorance will be no defence, and if clients are found to have fallen short of the expected standard, they may be blocked from continuing a project until they can demonstrate they have changed the way they work.

“Additionally, clients will be required to appoint appropriate personnel to fulfil the role of principal designer with immediate effect, and to identify their current construction contracts that will continue beyond 6th October.  If a project’s due to run over this date, there will be a need to appoint a principal designer and manage the transfer from the CDM co-ordinator to ensure that they are satisfying both the earlier and future requirements.”

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