• This article sets out the key duties for all those involved in construction projects and the documents required.

    The new regulations apply to projects not caught by the previous ones. Key changes include abolishing the role of CDM co-ordinator- a principal designer must now co-ordinate the pre-construction phase and extending the regime to domestic clients.

    What are the client’s key duties

    The client must make suitable arrangements for managing a project so the work can be carried out without health and safety risks and provide pre-construction information to every contractor and designer. It should also ensure any principal contractor and principal designer comply with their duties.

    Where a project uses more than one contractor, the client must appoint a principal contractor and principal designer. As the definition of “contractor” is extremely wide, most projects are likely to require these appointments. Both must be made before any construction work starts on site, otherwise, the client must itself perform the unfilled roles.

    The HSE must also be notified of a project if construction work is scheduled to last longer than 30 working days and have more than 20 workers on site at any point or construction work is scheduled to exceed 500 person days.

    Previously, where there was more than one client, the parties elected who was to be treated as client. This has been simplified and an agreement in writing as to who is to be treated as the client will suffice. Whilst, all the clients must continue to cooperate and provide information they control to the project, the key client duties rest with the client identified in their agreement.

    Importantly, unlike its predecessors, CDM 2015 applies to a domestic client. However, the burden is lessened because the duties are automatically passed to other parties. The contractor or principal contractor must manage the project and notify the HSE (if required). The client can, however, agree with the principal designer that the latter will perform the client’s duties. There is no exclusion or modification where the client is an unincorporated association, a group of volunteers, a charity or a sports club.

    Interestingly if no principal contractor or designer is appointed, the designer in control of the pre-construction phase is the principal designer and the contractor in control of the construction phase is the contractor. This will be a question of fact in each case.

    What are a designer’s key duties?

    Critically, the designer must not start work unless satisfied that the client knows of its duties under the regulations. It must plan, manage and monitor the pre-construction phase so the project is carried out without risks to health or safety and ensure all the designers’ design comes together so the project can be built and used safely.

    Importantly, it must take account of the pre-construction information and the principles of prevention which are to:

    What are the principal contractor’s key duties?

    • avoid risks;
    • evaluate risks that cannot be avoided;
    • combat risks at source;
    • adapt work to the individual and reduce monotonous work and ill effects on health;
    • adapt to technical progress;
    • replace the dangerous with the non-dangerous or the less dangerous;
    • develop a coherent overall prevention policy; and
    • give collective protective measures priority over individual protective measures.

    The principal contractor should plan, manage and monitor the construction phase and coordinate matters relating to health and safety so work is carried out without risk to health or safety. Like a designer, the contractor must take into account the principles of prevention, even if not carrying out design.

    Other duties include coordinating the contractors, providing a site induction, securing the site against unauthorised access and providing the minimum welfare requirements. It must also make and maintain the construction phase plan and make and maintain arrangements so those engaged in construction work cooperate effectively in developing, promoting and checking the effectiveness of measures to ensure the health, safety and welfare of the workers.

    What are the contractor’s key duties?

    A contractor should not start work unless satisfied the client knows of its duties under CDM 2015 and must plan, manage and monitor construction work so it is carried out without risks to health and safety. It must ensure those it engages have the necessary skills, knowledge and training or are obtaining them and must supervise, instruct and inform its workers.

    It should not start work on site unless reasonable steps have been taken to secure it against unauthorised access and the site welfare requirements have been met, so far as reasonably practicable and, importantly, if working for a domestic client, ensure that it and the other contractors are clear about who controls the site.

    What are the key documents required by CDM 2015?
    What are the general duties?

    • The construction phase plan: this is drawn up by the principal contractor and must be in place prior to site set-up so the set-up can take account of best practice on issues such as edge protection or separation of traffic and pedestrian routes etc; and
    • The health and safety file: this is a living document, which ends up with the end user, having been used throughout the project. It should be appropriate to the project and be continually updated. An electronic version is permitted. If the principal consultant’s appointment concludes before the end of the project, the principal contractor must update it as the works conclude. This is not however required on a small project with a sole contractor.

    The CDM 2015 sets out the following general duties that apply to everyone involved on a construction project whatever their formal role:

    Are there any transitional arrangements?

    • Competence – A designer or contractor must have the competence and capability to perform their role, to secure the health and safety of persons affected by the project. A designer or contractor must refuse an appointment to a project, unless it is competent and capable. A person appointing a designer or contractor must “take reasonable steps” to satisfy themselves that this requirement is met.
    • Co-operation – Everyone with a duty under the CDM 2015 must co-operate with all others with duties, whether they are working on the same project or a neighbouring project, to allow each party to fulfil their own function and duty.
    • Reporting danger – Any person working on a project under the control of another must report anything they are aware of likely to endanger their own health and safety or that of others.
    • Providing information and instruction – Any person required to provide information or give an instruction must do that comprehensibly and as soon as practicable.

    The CDM 2015 are in force from 6 April 2015. From then the CDM 2007 are no longer in force. Between 6 April 2015 and 6 October 2015, a project that began before 6 April 2015 may be subject to transitional provisions.

    If a project involves more than one contractor and no CDM coordinator has been appointed and the construction phase has not started, the client must appoint a principal designer. If the construction phase has started, the client may appoint one if it wishes. If it does not, the principal contractor must prepare the health and safety file.

    If the project involves more than one contractor and a CDM coordinator has not been appointed, it must appoint a principal designer by 6 October 2015. Until then, the CDM coordinator’s role will continue as before, but with revised duties tailored to reflect CDM 2015’s arrangements regarding the health and safety file and construction phase plan. (The transitional provisions allow for the CDM coordinator to continue until the end of the project, provided this falls before 6 October 2015.

    If the project involves more than one contractor and no principal contractor has been appointed it must do so as soon as practicable after 6 April 2015. The principal contractor must then draw up a construction phase plan. If the project involves only one contractor, it must draw up the construction phase plan.

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