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Today, HSE undertakes a board review of the responses of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM) 2007 public consultation. The evaluation will essentially formally approve what will become known as CDM 2015.
Personally, I don’t anticipate any further deviation from the previously published proposals, but critically we will find out whether the new regulations will come into force next April or October.
The construction industry will then start gearing itself up for the removal of the CDM coordinator role and the introduction of a new principal designer function. Furthermore, a suite of new tailored guidance will be launched – one aimed at each duty holder, as well as changes to the project notification threshold.
These changes are aimed to engage those working on smaller projects (two thirds or more of fatal injuries in construction occur on small sites). In addition, the revision to the regulations is also driven from the need to re-align the UK’s interpretation of CDM with the EU’s Temporary and Mobiles Construction Sites Directive (TMCSD).
For construction clients, their duties will largely remain unchanged, but designers will only have a six-month window to prepare themselves for the new role should the April date be forthcoming.
The likely removal of the competency requirement, currently within CDM 2007, has also been widely debated. Instead, it is anticipated that the guidance will make reference to PAS 91, the standard for construction pre-qualification procurement. From a recent survey of 157 construction buyers, only 57 per cent were familiar with the specification, so clearly there is also a lot of work to be done here.
Looking at statistics, construction fatal accidents have been reduced by more than 50 per cent over a seven-year period and there is then a fair argument that CDM 2007 has been a success.
I also believe that any improvement on smaller sites may well be driven by Fees For Intervention (FFI) rather than by CDM 2015. There is a view that the prospect of FFI orders on “material breaches” of CDM is already raising health and safety capability among small contractors.
There is clearly going to be an element of time and cost to organisations to get equipped with the new changes. Although changes are needed, I am concerned that this might be a case of too much, too soon.
Simon Toseland is head of health and safety at Workplace Law Group