The regulations direct the way health, safety and welfare should be managed during 'construction work'. The definition given by the regulations for 'construction work' is very broad, so it covers anything from home maintenance work to the building of new commercial premises or a civil engineering project, as well as , alterations, conversions and renovations, repairs, upkeep and redecoration, and the de-commissioning, demolition or dismantling of a structure.
Various aspects of construction work are covered, including working conditions (i.e. lighting, temperature, air quality and so on), security, structural stability, materials, equipment, traffic, emergencies and fire and explosion hazards.
The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015) came into force in Great Britain on 6 April 2015, replacing the previous regulations, CDM 2007.
Each and every individual involved in a project, including the client, has duties set out by CDM to ensure health and safety.
Below we have outlined briefly some of the main responsibilities of relevant ‘duty holders’ involved in construction projects. Consult the regulations for more details, or read the guidance provided by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), as well as that of relevant and reputable industry bodies, including the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB).
The client is whoever the work is being carried out for, whether that’s an individual, organisation or non-commercial group. CDM applies to both domestic and commercial clients.
A commercial client is an organisation or individual that a construction project is being carried out for in connection with a business, whether the business operates for profit or not, so they might be a school, a retailer, a landlord, or a charitable company.
Commercial clients are required to make suitable arrangements for managing a project; this includes ensuring:
A domestic client is someone having work carried out which is not connected to the running of a business or organisation. Usually, this means arranging for work to be carried out on the property where they or a family member lives.
In the scope of CDM 2015, domestic client duties are normally transferred to the contractor (for single contractor projects) or the principal contractor (for projects with more than one contractor). Alternatively, if a domestic client has appointed an architect or other designer on a project involving more than one contractor, they can ask them to manage the project and take on the client duties instead of the principal contractor. The designer then takes on the responsibilities of principal designer and must have a written agreement with the domestic client, confirming they have agreed (as principal designer) to take on client duties as well as their own.
On a construction project, a designer is an organisation or individual that prepares or modifies a design for any part of a construction project (including temporary works), or who arranges or instructs someone else to do it. This therefore can include architects, consulting engineers, chartered surveyors, interior designers and technicians. In some cases, the commercial client, principal contractor or other duty holder may also fulfil the role of designer.
They need to ensure that when preparing or modifying designs they eliminate, reduce or control foreseeable risks that may arise during construction or during the maintenance and use of a building once it is built.
Designers must therefore:
A principal designer is appointed by the client to take control of the pre-construction phase of any project involving more than one contractor and have an important role as key influencer for the management of health and safety risks throughout the project.
Principal designers must:
The principal contractor is the contractor in overall charge of the construction phase. They are appointed by the client and there should only be one principal contractor for a project at any one time. For single contractor projects, that contractor takes on the duties of the principal contractor.
The principal contractor must be capable of carrying out the role and have the right skills, knowledge, training and experience to carry out the work safely. They are required to plan, manage, monitor and co-ordinate health and safety in the construction phase of a project, their duties including:
The principal contractor must also ensure that:
A contractor is anyone who directly employs or engages construction workers, or who manages construction work. Sub-contractors, individual self-employed workers and businesses that carry out, manage or control construction work share the same duties as contractors.
Contractors on all projects must:
For projects involving more than one contractor, they must coordinate their activities with others in the project team and comply with directions given to them by the principal designer or principal contractor. For single contractor projects they will need to prepare a construction phase plan before work starts.
A worker is anyone working for or under the control of a contractor on a construction site. Plumbers, electricians, scaffolders, painters, decorators, steel erectors and labourers, as well as supervisors like foremen and chargehands all fall under the definition of ‘worker’.