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October 8, 2015

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The APS conference – CDM raises many questions

By Mark Glover

APS Conference

The first day of the Association for Project Safety (APS) National Conference came to an end with more questions than answers on CDM 2015.

Held at the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh, a fascinating panel debate chaired by Rob Strange got off to a jolting start when he asked the panel to define what the Principal Designer within CDM 2015 actually is, and received several different answers.

The panel was made up of Peter Baker, chief inspector of constuction for the HSE; Gillian Birkby, partner, Fladgate LLP; Margaret Sackey, senior health and safety advisor, CDM and Construction at Transport for London; Gren Tipper, director, Construction Clients Group; and Richard Wilks, president of APS.

Earlier in the day Richard Wilks had opened the conference reflecting on the 20 years since the foundation of APS, as well as referring to the CDM 2015 six month bedding in period that had now come to an end, calling the time “a watershed moment for the industry.”

Peter Baker, HSE’s new Chief Inspector of Construction gave a key note address echoing Wilks’ words that “the next five, ten or even fifteen years will be important. CDM has the industry’s attention and it is driving the construction industry in the right direction.”

However, Baker was realistic about the challenges that lie ahead with occupational health high on the agenda and the problems involved with implementing CDM to the smaller sites and jobs.

He referred to the London Olympics’ as a landmark moment and said that the industry can learn from what Lawrence Waterman and his team achieved during the project.

As delegates left for the day many were still left wondering what the next five, ten or fifteen years might bring.


Outside the conference, managing director of Altius Gary Plant said: “There’s still widespread confusion in the industry about the updated CDM regulations. One of the common misunderstandings is that it won’t apply to projects started before April 2015 under the previous CDM 2007 regime.”

He explained that this wasn’t the case. As of the 6 October all projects must adhere to new requirements, which includes replacing existing CDM co-ordinators with the new role of ‘principal designer’.

He added: “There’s a danger that domestic contracts will fall foul of the regulations. CDM 2015 applies to small domestic extension and refurbishment projects, which were previously exempt. But client responsibilities, which have increased for commercial projects, are passed to either the contractor, principal contractor or principal designer, dependent on the size of project.”

New responsibilities

CDM 2015 puts greater emphasis on the legal duties of the client, who is recognised as the head of the supply chain and expected to oversee the project. These enhanced responsibilities include:

  • Appointing a principal designer, and principal contractor (in circumstances where there is more than one contractor).
  • Ensuring health and safety standards when appointing a principal designer and principal contractor. The client must satisfy themselves that those who carry out the work have the necessary competencies to carry out the work safely.
  • Notification of the project to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), whenever construction work will take more than 30 working days and have more than 20 works on site at any time, or where construction work will exceed 500 person days.
  • Providing evidence that those appointed demonstrate appropriate information, instruction, supervision and training.
  • Ensuring that the construction phase plan has been planned prior to start on site.

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Christopher Penny
Christopher Penny
8 years ago

Thank you for the article. Just one comment – on the fourth bullet point, it is the principal contractor who must prepare the construction phase plan, and the client simply has to ensure that a plan has been prepared.