Understanding the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015

Although recent years have seen a reduction in the number and rate of injuries to construction workers, serious ill-health issues continue to affect workers in the construction sector. The law recognises the need to protect workers in the construction industry, and their right to claim compensation for an construction-related accident.

To help improve health and safety in the construction industry, the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM) were introduced on 6 April 2015, replacing the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

The term 'construction industry' covers a wide range of occupations, some more hazardous than others.

Whatever the worker’s role within the industry the regulations set out working practices to ensure that any risks of workplace accidents are managed from start to finish.

These include:

  • Sensibly planning the work required to minimise risks
  • Ensuring the right people are available for the right job at the time they are needed
  • Co-operating and co-ordinating work with others
  • Having the correct information about any risks and how the risks are to be managed
  • Making sure information about the risks is effectively communicated to all who need to know
  • Consulting and engaging with workers about the risks and how those risks are being managed

How are the CDM regulations set out?

The CDM Regulations 2015 consists of five parts.

The first part deals with the legal aspects of the regulations - the law that applies to the whole construction process on every projects from start to finish – and what each duty holder must do to comply with the law to ensure projects are carried out in a way that secures health and safety.

Part 2 explains the duties of construction project clients, whether they are commercial or domestic clients – although under the regulations the duties for domestic clients usually pass to other stakeholders.

The health and safety duties and roles of other duty holders are covered in part 3. Other duty holders include:

  • Contractors
  • Principal contractors
  • Designers
  • Principal designers

Part 4 contains general requirements for all construction sites.

Part 5 contains transitional arrangements and revocations.

What is the role for each duty holder in managing health and safety?

The commercial client is defined as one who has construction work carried out as a part of his business. The work could be as diverse as a manufacturing company having additional premises; a service company having new offices built; or a school having a new roof.

Commercial clients include property developers, housebuilding management companies, individuals and partners in a company.

The client’s main duty is to make sure his project is suitably managed to ensure the health and safety of anyone who might be affected by the work - including the public.

The contractor is the one in charge of carrying out the construction work, whether building, demolition, maintenance or alteration work. The contractor may be an individual or a business.

The contractor’s main duty is to ensure the health and safety of anyone who may be affected by the construction work by planning, managing and monitoring the work. The duty includes the safety of the public as well the workers people directly employed or subcontracted by the contractor.

Where projects involve more than one contractor a principal contractor is appointed to co-ordinate the management of health and safety during construction work.

Designers are individuals and organisations who draft and modify drawings, designs and specifications for construction projects - such as architects, engineers and draughtsmen. Other duty holders include quantity surveyors and those responsible for creating bills of quantity or design calculations.

A designer’s duties are to assess any risks that may arise either through the construction work or through the use and maintenance of the building after the work’s completion, and to eliminate, reduce or mange those risks.

On projects with more than one contractor a principal designer may be appointed by the client to co-ordinate, plan, manage and monitor health and safety during the pre-construction phase - when most of the design work is carried out.

What about the individual construction workers’ responsibility?

If you are a worker on a construction site you also have a duty to ensure your own health and safety and that of your co-workers.

Workers include individual tradesmen such as plumbers, bricklayers, electricians, decorators and scaffolders as well as their supervisors, chargehands and foremen.

Whether you are building, altering, maintaining or demolishing buildings or structures you should always co-operate with your employer and the other duty holders involved in the project.

If you notice anything that could affect your health and safety, that of others, including the public, you should report it to any of the duty holders.

You must also be regularly informed of any matters that may affect your welfare, health and safety.