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Focus on safety from planning to completion

The Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM) came into force on 6 April 2015. This will affect anyone involved in defined construction and design work.

CDM aims to reduce accidents via good design, planning, and cooperation from concept to completion and – ultimately – decommissioning.

The regulations affect all construction work, including construction, alteration and renovation. It also includes work on mechanical and electrical services as well as maintenance and repair. It specifies legal requirements on safety standards for areas where operatives are conducting their work, and for the provision of welfare facilities.

Large construction sites are no longer where most people are badly injured or killed. The “health” part of health and safety is frequently overlooked, and this sector has the largest number of occupational cancer cases with 3,500 deaths and 5,500 new cancer registrations each year.

Exposure to silica, solar radiation and work undertaken by painters and welders are expected to be the main causes of cancer in the industry in the future. Accidental exposure to asbestos is still occurring where workers are chasing into walls and structure without adequate pre-start preparation, time or information.

Previously, the majority of CDM requirements were only relevant for larger projects.

The full scope is now relevant for all defined work, including small maintenance tasks and work on domestic property where the homeowner will live there after work has been completed.

Notification is now entirely separate and the criterion has changed slightly. Notification is required if:

  • the project lasts longer than 30 days and there is likely to be 20 people on site simultaneously; or
  • if it exceeds 500 person days.

The regulations define five duty holders: the client, the contractor, the principal contractor – where there is more than one on the project – the designer, and the principal designer, which is only required if there is more than one contractor.

The CDM coordinator role has gone, and their responsibilities have been shared between the client and the principal designer. Health and safety files must be retained for the life of the building and kept current.

There may be future issues with buying and selling property if this is not available at the point of the sale.

Simple projects require proportionate information, but some documentation will definitely be required on every project and the mechanical and electrical industry will have to adapt their arrangements accordingly.

Louise Hosking is a director at Hosking Associates

Key points

  •  The client must define who the principal contractor and principal designer are in writing, if relevant
  •  All duties holders must only use people with the right skills, knowledge, training and organisational capability
  •  Pre-construction information on known site hazards must be available early on
  •  A construction phase plan is required on every job
  •  If a principal designer has been appointed, they must ensure the client receives a health and safety file at the end of the job
  • Clients have to be more involved in all aspects of work, know how significant risks will be managed and that welfare arrangements are compliant
  • Clients remain responsible for notification where relevant

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