A Complete Guide to CDM Regulations

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations were brought into play in 1994 to improve the health and safety of construction projects. The CDM regulations were revised a few times since first introduced, but they still have the same purpose — to ensure the safety and welfare of all people involved in construction projects. The latest changes to the CDM were in 2015, so the regulations we know and adhere to now are known as the CDM Regulations 2015. 

In this article, we summarise the regulations to help you better understand what the CDM Regulations are, why they’re important and how you can make sure projects are compliant. 

Why Are the CDM Regulations Important?

Construction is one of the most dangerous industries. Statistics show that every year, tens of thousands of construction workers suffer from work-related ill-health. The fatal injury rate for the construction industry is also three times higher than the all-industry rate. 

By adhering to CDM Regulations, construction companies and contractors can ensure that risk is kept to a minimum, and workers and site-visitors are protected from harm. 

Complying with these regulations is also a legal requirement. Every construction project must meet the CDM 2015 requirements. 

A Summary of the CDM Regulations

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations outline a number of steps that should be taken to ensure risk is effectively managed throughout construction projects. Health and safety responsibilities and project duties are divided between “duty holders”, which are the ones involved in projects like the clients, designers, contractors and workers. 

Client Responsibilities

The client is the individual or organisation for whom the construction project is being carried out. Clients can be either domestic or commercial, depending on whether the construction project is being carried out in connection with a business. 

Domestic clients that are having work done on their home or private property often pass their responsibilities on to their principal designer. However, commercial clients will have initiated a construction project for business purposes, and they will have several responsibilities and duties to complete:

  • Appoint Project Roles If more than one contractor is working on the project, the client will need to appoint principal designers and principal contractors. This needs to be done in writing, otherwise, the client will remain legally responsible for the principal contractor and principal designer duties.
  • Prepare a Client Brief Before the project begins, clients should prepare a brief that outlines the reason for the construction work, what the client is envisioning from the completed project, expectations of how the project will be carried out and expected health and safety standards. This is used to communicate the expected standards and project requirements to the project team.
  • Allow Sufficient Time and Resources Clients are required to allow contractors sufficient time and resources to complete the project safely.
  • Provide Pre-Construction Information Clients need to provide (or seek to obtain) all possible information about the construction site or building on which the project will be completed. Information about boundaries and access, existing structures, site security or health hazards are all examples of pre-construction information that contractors may need to complete the project. 
  • Notify the HSE The Health and Safety Executive needs to be notified of any construction projects that exceed 500 person-days, or last longer than thirty working days and have more than twenty people working at the same time at any point. Notifying the HSE is the responsibility of the client. 

Principal Designer Responsibilities

The CDM Regulations 2015 introduced the requirement for every project with more than one contractor to have a Principal Designer. The Principal Designer will take the lead during the pre-construction phase of the project, so they should have vast technical construction knowledge and experience. 

  • Help the Client Set up the Project As a person or organisation with a wealth of knowledge and experience in the construction industry, the Principal Designer should help the client set up the project. They will need to make sure the client is aware of their responsibilities under CDM and help them prepare the client brief.
  • Advise Clients about Time and Resources Needed Part of helping the client set up the project will involve advising them on how much time should be allocated to the project and resources that will be needed. Clients are required to allow sufficient time and resources for the project, but will first need information about timescales and quantity of resources from the Principal Designer. 
  • Help the Client Bring Together Pre-Construction Information While the client is responsible for obtaining and providing pre-construction information, the Principal Designer should check the adequacy of the information, identify any missing information, and advise the client on how to obtain the information. They will then put this information together to share with other contractors on the project. 
  • Eliminate Foreseeable Risks The Principal Designer needs to identify any potential health and safety risks that could arise during the project. And once risks are identified, they need to consider ways to eliminate or reduce them. Where possible, they should eliminate risks completely. Control measures should be placed to reduce any remaining risks and improve the health and safety of the building site and overall project. 
  • Liaise with the Principal Contractor and Other Designers Cooperation and communication between all contractors and designers is hugely important. The Principal Designer needs to liaise with other individuals and organisations involved in the project and communicate pre-construction information and health and safety needs. This communication should continue until project completion. 
  • Take Charge of the Health and Safety File Any project involving more than one contractor is required under CDM Regulations 2015 to have a health and safety file. This file is put together by the Principal Designer and should contain information relating to health and safety and risk management. As well as putting together this file, the Principal Designer will also need to review, update and revise the file as the project progresses.

Principal Contractor Responsibilities

While the Principal Designer takes charge of the pre-construction phase of the project, the Principal Contractor takes the lead during the construction phase. Clients should appoint this role to a contractor with the necessary skills, experience, and training to manage the construction while ensuring health and safety standards are met. The Principal Contractor will have all of the same responsibilities as contractors, plus a few more:

  • Consider All Health and Safety Risks The Principal Contractor is required to consider all health and safety risks that could arise during the construction phase of the project. They need to ensure the site is secure, and that necessary control measures are implemented to protect workers and the public from harm. They will also communicate any health and safety information to the Principal Designer.
  • Liaise with the Client and Principal Designer The Principal Contractor will communicate with the client and Principal Designer to review pre-construction information, and determine the design and methods that will be used to achieve the desired project results. They will then ensure that all health and safety risks have been considered. This communication is also important because it helps all parties understand how risks will be managed throughout the project. 
  • Prepare a Construction Phase Plan The 2015 Construction (Design and Management) Regulations introduced the need for every project to have a construction phase plan. The Principal Contractor will prepare this document detailing how health and safety risks will be managed throughout the construction stage of the project.
  • Provide Welfare Facilities The Principal Contractor will need to make sure welfare facilities such as toilets, washing facilities, drinking water and rest stations are available on-site before any work begins.
  • Manage Contractors and Workers The Principal Contractor will make sure the right contractors are hired for the project. Then they must organise contractor work schedules, provide them with project and site information, and inform them of hazards, risks and control measures that should be implemented. They also need to manage and supervise workers throughout the project. 

Designer Responsibilities 

Designers are any individuals or organisations that provide or alter designs for a project. They might be architects, engineers, interior designers, or surveyors. 

  • Take Pre-construction Information into Account When preparing or modifying designs, designers need to consider pre-construction information, as this may impact design decisions.
  • Make Sure the Client Knows Their Responsibilities Before starting work, designers need to make sure the client knows what duties they’re expected to fulfil under CDM.
  • Consider Risks When Creating Designs When creating designs, designers need to consider health and safety hazards, and think about how designs might affect the level of risk involved in a project. They should reduce risks in their design, and consider ways risks will be involved when designs are brought to life.
  • Provide Design Information Once designs have been created or modified, designers will share design information with the client, the Principal Designer and the Principal Contractor. These duty holders need this information in order to ensure thorough consideration of health and safety risks throughout the project. Designers may also need to contribute design information to the health and safety file. 

Contractor Responsibilities 

Projects can involve multiple contractors, and each one will have duties and responsibilities under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations. 

  • Ensure Clients Know Their Responsibilities Even though other duty holders are also required to check that clients know their responsibilities, contactors also need to make sure of this.
  • Manage Workers Contractors need to make sure that any workers have the necessary training, skills, knowledge and experience. They will plan, manage and monitor work carried out, and ensure workers understand health and safety hazards and risk management expectations.
  • Prevent Unauthorised Access Before any construction work begins, contractors need to ensure the site is secure and that restrictions have been put in place to prevent unauthorised access. This is important as unauthorised personnel on-site can be a huge health and safety risk. 

CHAS is here to help contractors comply with the CDM Regulations. CHAS members can access our discounted CDM training modules, which are all approved by RoSPA. This training can help duty holders fulfil their duties, ensure compliance and effectively manage project risks. Become a CHAS member today to gain access to low-cost training modules. 

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