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CDM Regulations Shift Responsibility For Health and Safety To Clients


A key change in the new CDM regulations, that took effect from 6 April, places more responsibility for health and safety on the shoulders of construction clients and designers, says Martin Rymer, Building and Project Consultancy Director at Chartered Surveyors Eddisons.

The construction design and management regulations for 2015 – which replace CDM 2007 – removes the role of CDM coordinator who had previously carried out health and safety duties on behalf of the client. A new role has been introduced, that of principal designer, which will cover some but not all of the functions handled by the CDM coordinator, leaving the client with more obligations.

It is most likely that the architect will be expected to fulfil the role of principal designer but, as Martin Rymer points out, they don’t necessarily have the skills or capacity to take on this extra responsibility. “Fulfilling the CDM role requires a level of expertise and knowledge that the design team may not yet have and it is therefore probable that the client will seek additional support from outside,” he says. “This may come from building surveyors or specialist health and safety advisers, both of whom previously acted as CDM coordinators.”

Under CDM 2015, more development projects will fall within the scope of the regulations. Previously, only projects that were notifiable to the HSE required the appointment of a CDM coordinator; now a principal designer must be appointed whenever a development involves more than one contractor, which is almost all cases. The regulations have also been extended to include smaller domestic projects, where the builder must fulfil the role of principal designer.

The client has an absolute obligation to:

  • make suitable arrangements for managing a project, whereby construction work can be carried out without risks to health and safety, to be maintained and reviewed throughout the project;
  • provide pre-construction information as soon as possible to every designer and contractor;
  • ensure a construction phase plan is drawn up before construction starts; and
  • ensure the principal designer prepares a health and safety file for the project

The client must take on these duties unless it appoints a principal designer early on to whom it can delegate some of the tasks – but not the liability if any are performed inadequately so appointing the right person is vital.

“Given the extra work and resources required from a principal designer, which will no doubt require payment, this is not a cost-cutting measure,” says Martin. “It does however remove the extra layer of bureaucracy created by the separate role of CDM coordinator and places a stronger focus on health and safety issues at the pre-construction phase for the whole project team including the client.”

CDM 2015 came into force on 6 April for all new projects started after this date. For projects that commenced before this, the CDM coordinator will continue broadly as before until a principal designer is appointed, which must be before 6 October 2015. On schemes that have started but don’t have a CDM coordinator or principal contractor, CDM 2015 will now apply.

For more information, please contact Martin Rymer on 0207 246 0140 or email [email protected]


Written by: Ian Harrington on Friday 10/04/2015