July 20, 2024

CDM – How are you doing and are you ready for transition?

Six months on on from the introduction of the new Construction Design & Management Regulations 2015 (CDM), which came into force on 6 April 2015, Louise Hosking, Director for Hosking Associates, a Health & Safety consultancy (www.hosking-associates.com), looks at how things are going six months on.

We work with a range of businesses and schools who may be clients, contractors, principal contractors, designers or principal designers. I have been extremely impressed with how all our existing clients have adapted so quickly to the changes, and everyone can answer most questions posed to them regarding all things CDM15.

At Hosking Associates, we have worked hard to ensure the advice we offer meets the spirit of the new legislation; this has involved extensive work and research to determine how best to implement the new requirements within the wide range of sectors our clients operate.

Using CDM Advisors

However, some organisations appear to be holding on tightly to the role of the CDM coordinator (CDM-C) and confusion is reigning as a result. The new requirements are very clear that this role no longer exists. Individual duty holders must develop the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to fulfil their defined responsibilities, and be able to make risk-based choices as part of what they do, and with each decision made. The wealth of experience held by CDM-C’s must be used differently. These individuals are well placed to assist clients, designers and contractors in achieving the skills, knowledge and experience to meet the demands of their new roles as their competent person for this area. This is very much at the heart of work we undertake for our clients. Duty holders must embrace their new roles fully because they cannot sub-contract their responsibilities.

The HSE issued guidance[1] on this very topic which has largely fallen under the radar. This is very clear and states advisors should be used to guide, train and support. For many organisations, who undertake the same work again and again, they may only be required for a short period of time whilst the necessary skills are acquired by the design team, client or contractor. Cooperation and effective coordination is key to ensuring there is a clear overview of all the safety issues resulting from the work and how risks are being controlled. An advisor may be required for more complex safety critical projects to assist duty holders, but organisations should carefully consider how they will now be used.

If organisations are seeking to appoint an individual or organisation to offer this type of support, they are responsible for verifying they have the skills, knowledge, experience and organisational capability for the work. The Association of Project Safety[2] has given their registered members until 6th October 2015 to sit an on-line examination to demonstrate their ability to give good advice. Anyone looking for advice should request evidence the individual has passed their exam! If general safety advice is being sought, the consultant should also be listed on the safety consultants register known as OSCHR[3].

Does routine maintenance & repair have to comply with CDM15?

There has been some confusion regarding the inclusion of “maintenance and repair” within the definition of “Construction Works.” However, this must be read in conjunction with the whole definition of construction work – which has not changed. Therefore, term planned maintenance work or work where individual components are removed and replaced, or lubrication and inspection undertaken, is not CDM work. If there is a project which involves construction, such as plant replacement, this probably will be CDM work. Even where CDM15 is not relevant, the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 most certainly still is, so contractors must still be warned of hazards, be inducted, and safe working practices agreed. For clients who are responsible for lots of property, my advice is to keep track of special projects and extraordinary expenditure as this is likely to be CDM construction work. Prioritise the larger projects and those with the greatest risks until your processes for CDM compliance are fully established.

The HSE are promising a “proportionate” response to enforcement; when undertaking smaller works clients will have to decide if CDM applies. If it does, a Construction Phase Plan must be created and the CDM process applied. The CITB have created an app for completing a plan, and a template can also be downloaded from their website, so there is no reason for this to become an obstacle to getting work done.

The Health & Safety File

I didn’t expect the development of the Health & Safety File to be the sticking point it is proving to be. Whilst many organisations are used to issuing O&M manuals, and certainly the creation of a H&S file is a normal part of larger projects, it now has to be issued whenever a principal designer has been appointed. This means whenever there has been more than one contractor involved in the work. Some project teams are unsure as to what should be included, and many commercial clients are not clearly communicating how they would like the information provided. In some circumstances, there is a reluctance to provide “as built” drawings; product design assessments are not being included where this applies, and files are still not being created during the work which is definitely the best way to ensure everything has been included.

In the domestic sector, information may have previously been provided to the homeowner by responsible builders at the end of the work, but this probably did not include as built drawings. Homeowners are unlikely to realise information is missing unless it is specifically requested when they sell.

Everyone should now expect “as built” drawings. Every design alters along the way, so this may mean tweaking drawings at the end of the project to align with what has actually been built. Generic electrical layout or drainage drawings will equally not be enough to satisfy the requirements, and drawings must show where new utilities have been installed.

Once developed, Health & Safety files should be updated rather than created from scratch so useful information is available for those using, cleaning or maintaining the building. This is future pre-construction information so it’s important and clients should be demanding high standards of information.

Transition Deadline – 6 October 2015

The new regulations allowed for a transitional process where a CDM-C had already been appointed or where the project was already on site. This allowed for the work to continue under the previous 2007 requirements until 6 October 2015. By this date, those projects still in the construction phase will have to appoint a principal designer and principal contractor.

We have been asked to advise clients when large architect practices and designers are unwilling to become the principal designer. The changes mean everyone is expected to be even more focused on their safety responsibilities. Systematic design, considering safety issues during the design process, deals with root cause issues for not only the contractor building the project but also for those using, cleaning and maintaining it afterwards. To embrace their new role, designers will have to become as conversant with the hierarchy of risk and the Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992 as they are with other design requirements.

Some insurers are unwilling to extend PI insurance to cover the principal designer’s role. Consequently, these clients have experienced unexpected difficulties in the transition process for larger projects and in some cases they are reverting to assigning the principal designer duty to the previous CDM-C. Unless they are also a designer, this is not what the regulations intended.


There is more work involved in organising projects, but I am finding clients are becoming more involved. Clearer processes are being developed with more direction for the design team. Clients have to know whether there are sub-contractors involved so they can determine if a principal designer is required. I have found this is highlighting the lack of pre-construction information reaching some of these groups in particular. On the whole, informed project teams are definitely stepping up. I do believe designers, in particular, will have to be better trained in respect of H&S so they really do follow the hierarchy of risk control during the design process.

At the heart of the regs is the goal of making sure everyone thinks safety during design, and before a spade is put into the ground, or a wall of unknown construction is demolished.

We are extremely well placed to provide advice, guidance and training on CDM15, and can offer a contractor management review for your organisation to assist with helping you to understand where you are now, where you need to be, and how you might get there. We would like to work with you whatever the size of your organisation – just contact us!

[1] http://chilp.it/3cf3a90

[2] https://www.aps.org.uk/

[3] http://www.oshcr.org/member/louise-hosking/