CDM 2015 on site

2015-11-11 15_24_58-Legwatch_Oct_2015

After a number of years in development, the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM) were implemented on 6 April 2015. Provoking much comment, senior political interest and industry input, what do the changes mean to a site manager?

In this article, we review the changes in order to help identify the impact at site level. Not all the changes will be analysed; only those that may have a more direct impact on the work of a site manager.

Evolutionary changes, not revolutionary

While the new CDM 2015 regulations do bring some significant changes, for the site managers many of the previous construction phase requirements remain. However the most relevant changes are as follows.

  • The CDM Co-ordinator role has been abolished and replaced by a new duty holder, the Principal Designer. The Principal Designer acts on behalf of the client. More emphasis has been placed on applying the general principles of prevention from the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
  • Appendix 4 relating to competence of the old CDM 2007 regulations has been deleted altogether and the guidance to the new CDM 2015 regulations places more emphasis on how the competence of operatives on site should be evaluated.
  • All projects now need a construction phase plan before construction work starts.
  • The threshold for notifying the HSE of certain construction work has been amended. It applies to construction work that will “last longer than 30 working days and have more than 20 workers working simultaneously at any point in the project” or exceed 500 person days.
  • Domestic work has been brought into the scope of the new CDM regulations. However for a domestic client, “most of their duties will be carried out by the contractor, principal contractor, or principal designer”, according to the HSE.

Designing out risks

The replacement of the CDM Co-ordinator by the principal designer has brought a greater emphasis on avoiding risks in the design stage of a project. Clients in putting their design teams together should consider what:

“steps they should reasonably take to ensure their designs help manage foreseeable health and safety risks during the construction phase and when maintaining and using the building once it is built.”

While this was an aim in CDM 2007, the new regulations make it clearer.

Where more than one contractor is to be used on a project — or likely to be used — the client must appoint a principal designer and a contractor as the principal contractor.

Construction phase plan

In CDM 2007 the client was required to ensure a construction phase plan was in place before construction work began for notifiable projects. In CDM 2015 clients must ensure the construction phase plan is drawn up by the contractor — in the case where there is only one contractor — or the Principal Contractor where more than one are used. Hence projects will require a construction phase plan in place before construction work starts and site managers will need to appreciate this change.


Within the Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) for the CDM Regs 2007, Appendix 4 set out the core criteria for various duty holders to identify their competences to undertake the work they tender for. In response to this, various schemes were established, such as the Contractors Health and Safety Assessment Scheme (CHAS) for organisations to use to demonstrate that met the core standards identified in Appendix 4 of the ACoP.

In the CDM 2015 ACoP, Appendix 4 was removed following criticism that there had been a numerous assessment schemes and that the pre-qualification questionnaires issued by many clients were unnecessarily complicated. The HSE has indicated that designers and contractors can continue to use such third party assessors. However they stress that:

“The law does not require any individual or business to use the services of a third party to help them in bidding for work. Rather than use the services of a third party, they have the option to assess their own capability and supply relevant documentation to a client in a support for a bid for work.”

For organisations that would prefer to assess themselves, the HSE refers to the PAS 91. The Publicly Available Specification 91, 2013: Construction related procurement — Pre-qualification Questionnaires is published by the British Standards Institute. It was developed with representatives from the construction sector with an aim to have a more consistent set of questions across the pre-qualification process in procuring contracts.

Where principal contractors or contractors assess themselves — particularly in smaller companies — site managers may be involved in assessing the competence and training needed for workers on-site for the pre-qualification process. If so, the HSE identifies PAS 91 as a basis for such a self-assessment.

Initially, assessment schemes such as CHAS, SAFEMARK will continue, as well others within the Safety Schemes in Procurement (SSIP) Forum. However the HSE believes that the use of the PAS 91 standard will bring a more consistent approach to the questionnaires that organisations face in the pre-qualification process.

Site managers who are involved in completing pre-qualification questionnaires should find the process easier in the future. It should be noted that some commentators are sceptical that the process will be streamlined.

Worker Involvement

While CDM 2007 had requirements to inform workers and consult with them, CDM 2015 has more emphasis on this. The HSE has taken the opportunity to revise this section and make more explicit the requirements to consult and co-operate with the workforce on site. In guidance from the HSE they stress the importance of ‘effective consultation and cooperation between the principal contractor and other contractors on site’ as leading to ‘effective worker involvement’. The HSE states this includes:

  1. A commitment by managers to lead by example, to provide the resources and set the standards of health and safety expected;
  2. Implementation of a range of ways to communicate, ensure cooperation with and consult the workforce in managing health and safety; and
  3. Collecting the evidence that worker involvement is effective and that cooperation between contractors is effective.

It is likely that the HSE will use the new regulations to place more prominence on worker involvement on site.

Domestic clients

While domestic clients are included in the scope of CDM 2015, their duties are transferred. Where one contractor is involved, the contractor carries out the client’s duties as well as their own. The HSE argues that for smaller projects this often happens already.

Where there is more than one contractor, it would normally be the Principal Contractor that would take on the domestic client’s duties. Where this is not specified, the contractor “in control of the construction phase of the project” would take on the duties.

In the case of more than one contractor, a client can opt to have a written agreement with the Principal Designer. This would transfer the client duties to the Principal Designer, who would have the client’s duties, as well as their own.

Site changes?

The HSE saw one aspect of the new regulations as a key aim — to improve regulation of smaller sites. Evidence from the intensive inspections done particularly on refurbishment work has revealed significant levels of non-compliance with the law. For many site managers they must understand the changes that CDM 2015 bring. Most of the existing requirements in relation to the health and safety during the construction phase remain.

However, the emphasis on designing out risks and revision of the CDM Regulations mean that site managers — particularly on smaller projects —have changes to incorporate into their work if they have not already done so.

Disclaimer: The information provided through Legislation Watch is for general guidance only and is not legal advice. Legislation Watch is not a substitute for Health and Safety consultancy. You should seek independent advice about any legal matter.

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