The Principal Designer Role in Practice


    The deadline for the CDM 2015 changeover has arrived. With many designers still uncertain about the role of Principal Designer, Acoura is keen to dispel myths, allay fears and clarify the requirements surrounding the role and explain how we can assist with the transition by providing expert advice and resources developed through extensive experience in the construction industry.

    The key is flexibility

    The focus of the Principal Designer role is on planning risk control from concept stage through to the use and maintenance of the structure. The Principles of Prevention remain unchanged, as does the hierarchy of control. So why do so many designers seem reluctant to adopt the role?

    These approaches have been ingrained in the design process for years and remain a valuable foundation for the basis of risk management. Those who have previously taken on additional responsibilities as ‘Lead Designer’ have experience of managing – or, at least, steering – design teams, yet don’t feel comfortable taking on this responsibility now it is a specified requirement of their role.

    It comes down to competence

    It is the foundation of any professional service, but how to demonstrate competence to provide a service that has never existed? We all know competence is achieved through a combination of experience and qualifications, but unlike CDM 2007 the new regulations don’t dictate exactly what experience and which qualifications.

    Instead the new regulations define skills, knowledge and experience as the measure of competence but what does this mean? It means that the HSE recognises the difficulty caused by enforcing exclusive criteria and have intentionally kept the focus on the core elements of competence to retain flexibility and avoid bureaucracy – the driving forces behind the new regulations.

    Adopt a common sense approach

    Designers looking to take on the Principal Designer role already have skills, knowledge and experience of many aspects of design management. The current shortcomings relating to risk management can be managed by drawing on a highly prevalent resource; those who provided the service of CDM Coordinator and Planning Supervisor before that.

    How Acoura can help

    Acoura has provided such services for years and has a wealth of experience to support any Principal Designer in their new role. We recognise that by providing a tailored advisory service we can share our knowledge and help develop organisations’ experience to build both their confidence and competence in their new role as Principal Designer.

    Simone Harris-Stevens

    CDM Client Account Manager

    Acoura Consulting Ltd.

    Tel: +44 (0)330 024 0255


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