Meeting the Challenge: Compliance and CDM 2015


Building Safety Group MD Paul Kimpton considers the challenges to companies complying with the recently updated Construction Design and Management (CDM) Regulations…

CDM 2015 is now in full force. Significant changes to these regulations promise a better framework for improving health and safety within the construction industry. They also promise to cut bureaucracy and, according to the HSE, save the industry over £30 million a year.

But changes mean challenges; particularly for those charged with their implementation. The Building Safety Group (BSG) is keen to see its 800 member companies reaping the promised benefits by meeting those challenges smoothly and effectively.

The transitional provision from CDM2007 to CDM 2015 ended on 6 October 2015. But BSG’s campaign to alert member companies to their new duties began over a year earlier. This included training for our own health and safety advisers, articles in our monthly newsletter and a series of free breakfast sessions at which our Technical Manager Chris Chapman, spelt out what the changes would mean for duty holders.

Two of the most significant changes are:

  • Removal of the role of the externally appointed CDM-coordinator (CDM-c) and the addition of a new duty holder; the Principal Designer (PD). Like the CDM-c, the PD is concerned with health and safety during the pre-construction phase of the project. It is not a straight replacement as there are some differences in the duties. An important difference is that, unlike the CDM-c, the PD is a member of the project team rather than an external appointee. This means that health and safety is now fully integrated into the project, replacing the generally discredited “bolt-on” arrangement represented by the CDM-c.
  • A significant increase in the duties placed on the client. Importantly these include ensuring adequate time and resources so that the project can be completed safely. Given the client’s power over the project and control of the resources this makes eminent sense. Domestic clients also now fall into the scope of CDM 2015 but some of the Client duties in Regulation 5 do not apply to them as they are less likely to have construction experience.

See table 1 for a summary of all the main changes.

Other duty holders include the Principal Contractor (PC), responsible for managing monitoring and co-ordinating health and safety in the construction phase of the project; the contractors, responsible for ensuring work under their control is carried out without risk to health and safety; and of course the workers themselves whose duties include cooperating with health and safety arrangements, looking out for their own and each other’s health and safety and reporting any risks they may identify.

During 2015 we offered a series of one-day courses covering duty holder roles. These were well attended and will be rolled out into 2016.

The reaction of our members towards the new regulations has been generally very positive although there was some concern when the HSE scrapped the CDM Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) in favour of what they termed “targeted guidance”. The HSE regarded the ACoP as too long, too complex and potentially difficult to revise. But some of those supporting the ACoP argued that ACoP status conferred authority. In response HSE promised to review their decision but only after giving the targeted guidance a chance to bed in. This now seems to be happening because the targeted guidance appears to have greater acceptance.

Guidance and training is all that some of our more well-resourced members need in order to comply with CDM 2015. But others may need more help.

It soon became apparent that the best way BSG could provide this help was to offer CDM compliance consultancy. It is important to stress that this consultancy is not simply a re-badged CDM-c role, confined largely to the preconstruction phase of the project. We offer help right across the project and aim to involve to all duty holders.

Consultancy is also tailored to fit each project and each company’s needs while not undermining the responsibilities of the duty holders. For example PD duties include helping the client put together a preconstruction information pack and preparing a health and safety file for the project. The pre-construction information pack would include asbestos survey information (for refurbishments) and ground condition reports for a new build. The health and safety file contains relevant H&S information for controlling risks to contractors working on the building after the project has finished.

And before setting up a construction site the PC must draw up a construction phase plan which includes H&S arrangements and site rules. This plan would include issues such as on-site traffic management, emergency arrangements for fire and rescue and safe site management.

In each case we insist that the relevant duty holder takes ownership of the documents they have to prepare. But we can sit alongside them and help them write it out. This help is proactive, for example highlighting risks that may have been missed. We can produce templates but it is important that the duty holders completes them to ensure they take ownership of them. We help ensure that the documents are bespoke; i.e. relevant to the specific project.

Companies obviously need to assess their own capabilities when gauging the level of help and advice they need. BSG offers support at every stage for those who need it.

Table 1. Summary of the main changes introduced by CDM 2015

• Simplification of the structure of the regulations;

• Scrapping the ACoP in favour of targeted guidance “written in plain English;

• Strengthening the role of the client;

• Removal of the CDM-c;

• Addition of the Principal Designer as a duty holder;

• Removal of competence requirements and replacing with the requirement of relevant skills, knowledge, training and experience;

• Threshold for appointment of some duty holders expected to add 1 million additional small projects requiring the appointment of co-ordinators.

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Paul Kimpton

Managing Director

Building Safety Group

Tel: 01454 414877


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