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January 13, 2015

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CDM 2015 draft guidance: initial thoughts

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have released the draft guidance on the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015.

Much has already been written about what CDM 2015 might look like. What this document gives us is a strong indication of what will be in the actual detail. It should be noted that there is still potential for the wording to be amended prior to the regulations being enacted.

What caught my eye initially was the extensive use of the word ‘must’ throughout the regulations. From a legal standpoint, this means an absolute or strict requirement for a regulation, to be complied with regardless of time, cost or effort. In my view, this is far more binding than the current iteration.

Secondly, the definition of construction work has been vastly expanded to include any building, civil engineering or construction engineering work. This leaves us with no doubt as to what type of work CDM applies to.

The Client’s duties have been strengthened in the new regulations. The Client ‘brief’ should set out the arrangements for how health and safety will be managed on a project. I have long advocated that the failure to provide an adequate client brief can act as a major contributory factor to a lack of understanding, inadequate coordination and late design changes on a building project – all of which can have a detrimental effect on health and safety. I certainly support this inclusion.

The regulations have removed the competency requirement, replacing it with ‘skills, knowledge and experience’. In order to determine whether an organisation has these facets, the regulations state that due weight should be given to an established professional institution or body. For example, bodies in which health and safety forms part of their route to membership. To me this would suggest bodies such as the Association for Project Safety, Royal Institute of British Architects or Institute of Civil Engineers or similar.

It also includes schemes that fall under the Safety Schemes in Procurement umbrella. This reads like the old competency requirements wrapped up in different words. The PAS 91 standard has specifically been referenced as a means of assessing pre-qualification. This standard provides a far more detailed analysis that might be typically used to procure construction contractors.

All contractors are now required to produce a health and safety plan and file, regardless of size, and I am concerned that small and medium-sized business could initially struggle with these additional requirements.

Furthermore, the CDM Coordinator function has now been replaced by the Principal Designer, for the planning, managing, monitoring and coordination of pre-construction phase health and safety. I see these duties as being very administrative. It’s understandable that designers are apprehensive about being served up these new responsibilities. In my view, they will certainly come at a price and I question the HSE’s calculation of £30m annual savings to the industry by not appointing CDM-Cs. This cost will likely be integrated in the designer’s fee for fulfilling the role.

For CDM-C’s concerned about the future of their roles, I see great potential in the new regulations. Clients need access to competent construction health and safety advisors in order to deliver their functions. The need to ensure that Principal Designers and Contractors are carrying out duties identifies an obvious auditing role.

The execution of the new Principal Designer role is likely to result in organisations either investing in this competency directly or engaging in an external resource. Additionally, smaller contractors are likely to need competent assistance in developing and implementing their construction health and safety plans and files. With an April 2015 enforcement date, I don’t think it leaves the industry much time to prepare itself for this new regime.

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Ray R
Ray R
9 years ago

Good summary of proposed CDM Regs 2015. With regards to last paragraph – CDM Regs coming into force April 2015, it is my understanding there will be a 6-month transitional period which the author has omitted from the article.