The current design and management regulations are set out in the Constructions (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (“CDM 2015”). These regulations have an impact on pretty much everyone involved in construction, development and redevelopment work in Great Britain. Even small and domestic projects are covered. The regulations place various duties and obligations on different parties within the construction project. An outline of the main features are as follows:

The client’s duties

The client has a legal obligation to make sure that there are suitable arrangements for the management of a project without there being risks to health and safety. In particular, the client must make sure that:

(a) Pre-construction information is provided to contractors and designers;

(b) That the principal contractor prepares a construction phase plan before the works begin;

(c) That the principal designer prepares a health and safety file.

The client must then make reasonable steps to ensure that the principal contractor and designer comply with their duties. The client also has an obligation to notify the Health & Safety Executive of the project if the work is scheduled to last longer than 30 days and have more than 20 workers on site, or if the construction work is scheduled to exceed 500 person days.

The designer’s key duties

The term “designer” is interpreted widely to include not just people who prepare or modify designs and drawings but also people who prepare specifications and bills of quantities so, for example, quantity surveyors could come within this definition.

The designers are under obligation not to start work until they are satisfied that the client understands their own duties.

The principal designer has an extra obligation to manage and monitor the pre-construction phase for the purpose of safeguarding against risks to health and safety. In practice, this means that the designs must be such that work can commence and continue safely.

Duties of a principal contractor

A principal contractor must plan, manage and monitor the construction phase and in particular, co-ordinate matters relating to health and safety during construction.

The principal contractor co-ordinates the various contractors and sub-contractors. They must provide site induction, secure the site against unauthorised access and ensure minimum welfare requirements for those working on the site.

The principal contractor creates and maintains the construction phase plan and they have to consult and engage with workers and other contractors.

Duties of the contractor

This includes not just sub-contractors but also main contractors, management contractors and construction managers and sometimes even the client.

All contractors have the obligation to plan, manage and monitor their construction work to ensure health and safety. In practice, this means that every contractor must be responsible for the people that they employ or engage. They must ensure that those people have the appropriate skills, knowledge and training. Each contractor must then supervise and properly instruct and manage those people.

The contractor is not allowed to start work on site until it is satisfied that the site is secured against unauthorised access and welfare requirements have been met for those working on site.

Key documents under the CDM 2015

The Construction Phase Plan is prepared by the principal contractor with input from the principal designer and others. The Construction Phase Plan must be in place before the construction site is set up. Site rules must be set. The Construction Phase Plan must be continually reviewed by the principal contractor throughout the project.

The Health & Safety Plan is prepared by the principal designer, the health and safety file is compiled and added to as the project proceeds. Ultimately, this document will be handed to the client at the end of the project.

The health and safety file would be begun in the pre-construction phase and will be kept up-to-date as the project progresses.

General duties that applies to everyone on site

Whatever their role or position in relation to a construction project, everyone involved has the following general duties:

(a) They must have the competence and capability to perform the role they are required to do whilst maintaining health and safety;

(b) Everyone has a duty to co-operate with everybody else to ensure that everyone can comply with their duties under the CDM regulations.

(c) Anything likely to endanger health and safety must be reported.

(d) Information must be provided properly and promptly when there is a requirement to provide it.

Site welfare requirements

The basic welfare requirements on a site are:

(a) Toilets;

(b) Washing facilities

(c) Drinking water

(d) Changing rooms

(e) Rest facilities