The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM) were introduced in 1994 as a result of European Directive 95/57/EEC which outlined the minimum health and safety standards that would be enforced. They are in effect to ensure that health and safety is considered right from the inception of a construction project right through to those who will maintain it after the construction is complete.
In 2007 the CDM Regulations were revised, but these were perceived to being over interpreted and were revised further coming into force in April 2015. A further reason for the 2015 revisions was a belief that the co-ordination function in the pre-construction phase was often a bureaucratic add-on that was not always embedded in the project, resulting in additional costs with little additional value and on smaller sites a persistence of unacceptable health and safety standards.
The changes from the 2007 Regulations to the 2015 Regulations can be summed up in the following 7 key areas:
1. The structure of the regulations has been simplified to make them easier to interpret
2. The Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) has been replaced with targeted guidance
3. The role of the CDM Co-Ordinator (which was usually a bought in Third Party service) has been replaced with a new role of the “Principal Designer”
4. Competence assessment has been split into component parts (skill, knowledge, training and experience) and how it relates to an organisation
5. Domestic clients (who were previously exempt from the Regulations) are now included with their CDM duties being undertaken by the Contractor as “Principal Designer”
6. Changing the threshold for appointment of “Principal Contractor” and “Principal Designer” to where there is more than one contractor. The Health and safety Executive (HSE) believe this will capture up to an additional 1 million projects a year. However the requirements will be proportionate and little more work will be necessary
7. This will separate the co-ordination role threshold from the requirement to notifying the HSE, which is a requirement where the construction work is likely to last longer than 30 working days and have more than 20 operatives working simultaneously at any point, or exceed 500 person days.
The widest reaching and most significant change is the replacing of the CDM Co-Ordinator with the new role of Principal Designer. The primary reason for this change was that it gave responsibility for the design and management of the project to an individual that can influence the design. Further the role of the Principle Designer is comparable in certain respects to that undertaken by the Principal Contractor during the construction phase of the project and includes:
• Planning, managing and monitoring the pre-construction phase.
• Eliminating or controlling risks through the design work.
• Passing information to the Principal Contractor
• Co-operation and co-ordination between the parties.
• Ensuring designers comply with their duties.
• Preparing pre-construction information for the Client / Employer
• Preparation of the Health & Safety File.
Will these changes to the CDM Regulations go far enough or indeed too far? Only time will tell. Of course like all industries, construction is constantly changing and evolving and a further update in due course will be inevitable. However the changes from CDM 2007 to CDM 2015 are generally a step in the right direction and in effect a reigning in of the “Nanny State” mentality to Health & Safety and made interpretation simpler and streamlined.
It is not often that can be said about legislation.