Synergy Building Design Limited: CDM Regulations 2015

Under the CDM2015 regulations we are required to advise our Clients of their Duties as an Employer and CDM Client.  While we understand that Clients may not want to consider this, we are of the opinion that it is, more than ever, hugely important; we have prepared this page to offer our Client’s and partners guidance.

This affects all parties involved in any scale of building works.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have recently revised the regulations that cover Construction Design and Management (CDM) to help ensure that no-one is harmed during the construction and continued use of a building.

The following is a brief overview of Client’s obligations, which is by no means exhaustive, however further information is available through the links below and via the HSE website 

To begin with, it is essential to understand how your chosen contractor works.  The regulations define two types of contractor, a “single contractor” and “more than one contractor”.  A single contractor is one who will undertake all aspects of the work, however, should they appoint a sub-contractor to undertake any aspect of the works, they are immediately considered as “more than one Contractor”. In almost every case, it is likely that a contractor, no matter how large or small, will require external assistance.  If a single contractor is available to you, then you do not need to initially appoint a Principal Designer.

In the more likely case that your project will involve “more than one contractor”, and therefore the client must appoint a Principal Designer in writing.  We suggest that Clients appoint a Principle Designer as a matter of course.  Essentially, it is our view that most Clients will not have the capacity to predict how the works will commence and therefore this role would be better fulfilled to avoid potential legal issues later.

The definition and role of Principal Designer is described as follows:

  • Principal Designers are designers appointed by the client in projects involving more than one contractor. They can be an organisation or an individual with sufficient knowledge, experience and ability to carry out the role“.
  • The role is summarised as an individual or organisation who can “Plan, manage, monitor and coordinate health and safety in the pre-construction phase of a project. This includes: identifying, eliminating or controlling foreseeable risks; ensuring designers carry out their duties. Prepare and provide relevant information to other duty-holders. Provide relevant information to the principal contractor to help them plan, manage, monitor and coordinate health and safety in the construction phase.”

The reason that we (Synergy) recognise the importance of these regulations, and ensure that Clients understand them, is that if a Client fails to appoint a Principal Designer, then the Principal Designer duties revert back to the Client, which inherently makes them responsible for all Health and Safety aspects of the project.

The term Principal Designer tends to invoke the assumption that the Architect (or Engineer) should take up the role, and in some cases this may be correct.  In most cases it is unlikely that Architects and Engineers have the necessary experience or resources to cover the responsibilities of the role; and if they are, they should charge additional fees accordingly.

Following the appointment of the Principal Designer, (assuming that there is “more than one contractor”) the Client also must also appoint a Principal Contractor.  This should be an individual or organisation who oversees the other contractors (or sub-contractors) in relation to Health and Safety.

The Definitions of the numerous parties can be found in “Table 1” of “Managing Health and Safety in Construction”, which can be downloaded via the link below; Clients should also be aware of these roles and the responsibilities required to be covered by them.

The renewed regulations place the onus on Clients and Employers to manage the CDM aspects of the project.  This is because they have the most control over who will design, construct and use the building.  The type of work, and scale of project will have a major influence over how the CDM element of the works are to be managed.  It is the Client’s responsibility to implement CDM, however we appreciate that Clients may not be aware of their obligations.  The HSE have prepared a number of free documents to help explain the process.

All parties involved in any aspect of the procurement, maintenance, construction or design of buildings should be aware of these regulations.  Should you have any queries, please contact us or email for further guidance.