If you work in the building and construction industry, you will be aware that with effect from 6th April 2015, new regulations came into force to manage the health, safety and welfare of construction projects in the form of the new Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015 Regulations).
The reform is intended to improve on previous health and safety standards to reduce the risk of construction worker injury. However, rather than supplementing the CDM 2007 Regulations, the new version supersedes all the previous procedures and rules. With this in mind, business owners or site managers working in the construction industry must be fully aware of the requirements and the risk of non-compliance.
What Are The Key Changes to the CDM?
The principal objective of the CDM 2015 Regulations is to emphasise health and safety via increased coordination between the three primary parties: client, designer and contractor. This focus is reflected in the main legislative changes:
All projects must have the following:
- Workers who have the correct experience, knowledge training and skills to carry out their role. Their backgrounds and experience should include risk management training for both equipment and procedures.
- Contractors who will provide appropriate supervision, instruction and information to enforce and monitor the health and safety standards for the worksite.
- A construction phase plan that details the project outlines each phase of construction and lists the project team members, the responsibilities of each individual involved, what arrangements have been taken to mitigate risks and what health and safety procedures have been implemented.
A project, regardless of whether it is domestic or commercial and involves more than one contractor, must have the following:
- A principal designer who is responsible for planning, managing, monitoring, and coordinating the pre-construction phase of the project to ensure that the project is carried out without risks to health or safety.
- A principal contractor who is responsible for planning, managing, and monitoring the construction phase. This includes creating and maintaining the construction phase plan and coordinating matters related to health and safety during the construction phase.
- A health and safety file which should outline how to safely perform routine procedures and clean up the worksite. The data should be continually updated and revised by the principal designer as the project progresses.
For any project, the commercial client must always do the following:
- Provide pre-construction information to designers and contractors, which should outline all known potential hazards that may arise during construction.
- Make arrangements to ensure those carrying out the project can proportionately manage health and safety risks.
- Ensure that both the principal designer and principal contractor comply with their responsibilities and duties, including preparing a health and safety file and a construction phase plan, respectively.
If a project is scheduled to last more than 30 days and will require more than 20 full-time workers, or will exceed 500 working days, the client must notify the HSE of the project. The CDM co-ordinator role is now abolished and partly replaced by the new principal designer role.
While these reforms are only a fraction of the total reforms introduced by the CDM Regulations 2015, they represent some of the law’s most significant changes.
What Is The Impact of the Changes to the CDM?
The changes introduced by the CDM 2015 Regulations, may expose your businesses to a more significant amount of liability. However, standard Construction Insurance policies will generally provide adequate cover for your needs. What could be affected is your professional indemnity insurance.
Professional Indemnity Insurance provides protection against claims or accusations of professional negligence. As the previous role of CDM Co-ordinator does not carry the same responsibility as the new Principal Designer role,
those in the CDM Co-ordinator role shouldn't presume it is an automatic fit to assume the Principal Designer role. This could create gaps in your Indemnity cover and leave you open to claims of professional negligence.
Do not assume either the Principal Designer role or any role for that matter by default. The key is ensuring that you understand all the responsibilities your specific role entails under CDM 2015 to avoid allegations of professional negligence.
How Can I Remain Compliant?
The consequences should your construction firm fail to follow the CDM 2015 Regulations and are found to be non-compliant, or liable for any type of incident, can be severe, and you could be subjected to legal repercussions.
Non-compliance can result in fines, prosecutions and loss of credibility in the eyes of both the public and any clients, peers or even shareholders. With this in mind, you should develop a thorough construction phase plan, health and safety file, and risk management assessment plan.
The best practice is to design your specific plans for your individual business and projects. However, the following four tips may assist you in the planning process:
- Attend a CDM workshop or course to familiarise yourself on the regulations and responsibilities.
- Before planning and construction begins, bring in a licensed inspector to identify any potential hazards either in the processes or materials.
- Develop a construction phase plan quickly and efficiently with the free app from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB). The CITB CDM Wizard App can be found at www.citb.co.uk/health-safety-and-other-topics/health-safety/construction-design-and-management-regulations/cdm-wizard-app
- You can review the legal responsibilities of all parties—clients, contractors, developers and workers—for the project with CITB’s free industry guidance. The guides can be found at www.citb.co.uk/health-safety-and-other-topics/health-safety/construction-design-and-management-regulations/cdm-guidance-documents
Best Practice is To Promote Safe Working
The CDM 2015 Regulations provide significant changes to the construction industry, increasing the health and safety of contractors and employees without sacrificing the quality of work. By promoting best practice, understanding responsibilities and implementing appropriate planning, you can reduce the risk of incidents while keeping on the right side of the regulator.
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