Understanding the new CDM 2015 regulations

by Alex on June 2, 2016

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Could you unknowingly be breaking the law? If you own or run a domestic construction business and haven’t created a construction phase plan in the last 9 months, then the answer might be yes.

In April 2015, the new Construction Design Management (CDM) Regulations were introduced to increase the standards of health and safety on domestic projects. For many of you working on these projects, the most significant impact of this on your daily routine will be the requirement to create a construction phase plan for every project, no matter how big or small.

The main focus of the construction phase plan is to record the arrangement for managing significant health and safety risks onsite, how you plan to communicate those arrangements, and who is responsible for updating and delivering health and safety onsite.

Why have these laws been introduced?

The previous version of the CDM regulations dated from 2007 and exempted domestic clients/homeowners from most CDM obligations. This meant that whilst you had an obligation to ensure the safety of your jobs, there was no requirement from the homeowner to ensure you were working safely, and thereby checking you were managing risks onsite. Whilst larger UK projects saw their incident rates fall dramatically since 2007, smaller domestic projects were accounting for the majority of all accidents.

These new 2015 CDM regulations removed the client/homeowner exemption for domestic projects and transferred the obligations to the contractor. On top of this, they’ve also removed the role of the CDM coordinator and transferred this responsibility to a new role called the principal designer.

Why it’s critical to understand your role on each project

Under the new CDM regulations, your role will determine whether you need to create a new construction phase plan, a health and safety file, or simply help to contribute to these documents.

Sole contractor:
If you’re the sole contractor on the job then you’ll experience the biggest change to your daily working routine. By law, you now need to create a construction phase plan, no matter how big or small your job is. You don’t need to go overboard, but you do need to spend some time considering the risks onsite in proportion to the job at hand. The HSE provides some free resources on how to manage this additional construction phase plan requirement, which you can view here

If there is more than one contractor on site, and you are working under an appointed principal contractor, your daily working routine will essentially stay the same. As a subcontractor you will still be expected to coordinate activities with others in the project team and comply with directions given by the principal designer or principal contractor. You may also be asked to help develop the construction phase plan, provide equipment instructions and develop your own risk assessments so the principal contractor can complete his health and safety file.

Principal contractor:
By law, if there is more than one contractor on site, the client will need to appoint a principal contractor. If you or your company are appointed principal contractor, you will be responsible for managing the health and safety of all workers on site. You will be expected to create a health and safety file for the project, which will include:

  • Construction phase plan
  • Risk Assessments of all contractors
  • Equipment instructions for anything you or other contractors install
  • As built drawings
  • Site induction forms
  • Site visit sheets

As a principal contractor, you will also need to notify HSE of any construction work if:

  • Your project lasts longer than 30 working days and have more than 20 workers working at the same time at any point on the project or
  • Exceeding 500 person days

You need to include this F10 notification document in the H&S file, along with any updated H&S file information introduced during the project. It should be handed over to the client at project completion.

Principal Designer:
A principal designer, typically an architect or person responsible for pre-construction work, will take control of the pre-construction phase of any project involving more than one contractor.

Previously, this was the CDM coordinator’s role, but this duty has now been handed over to the designer who needs to plan, manage, monitor and coordinate health and safety in the pre-construction phase of the project.

Focus on health and safety to avoid issues down the road

If you haven’t considered health and safety previously, now is the time to look into easy solutions for your business – after all, the new sentencing guidelines threaten a maximum fine of up to £20 million together with prison time for directors who fall short of these requirements.

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