The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015) came into force on 6 April 2015.  Key changes include the following:

  • Application to all clients
  • Increased client duties
  • Removal of CDM co-ordinator
  • Creation of Principal Designer
  • HSE notification threshold changed
  • HSE notification no longer triggers additional CDM duties
  • Written construction phase plans for all projects
  • Approved Code of Practice abolished and replaced with new guidance
  • Less competence bureaucracy

The key changes…

Application to all clients

CDM 2015 applies to domestic and commercial clients.  This is not as drastic as it sounds because the majority of domestic client duties are automatically delegated to other CDM dutyholders (namely the contractor, the principal contractor or, if the client so provides in writing, the principal designer).  However, this does mean that domestic projects are now potentially notifiable to HSE and this should be a consideration at project outset.

Further information from HSE on domestic client duties

Increased client duties

CDM 2015 tightens certain obligations on clients and introduces some new obligations too.  Obligations stepped up from reasonable steps to absolute include making suitable arrangements for managing and monitoring projects.  New obligations include a duty to ensure a construction phase plan is drawn up by the contractor before the start of the construction phase and a duty to notify HSE if the project meets the HSE notification threshold criteria (this was previously done by the CDM Co-ordinator (CDM-C)).

Clients may wish to consider strengthening competence requirements in appointment documentation to bolster evidence that suitable project managing and monitoring arrangements are in place.

Removal of CDM-C

The CDM-C role has been removed. For projects starting after 6 April 2015, a CDM-C should not be appointed; instead, if there is more than one contractor, a Principal Designer (PD) should be appointed.

For projects which started before 6 April 2015 where a CDM-C has not yet been appointed and the construction phase has not yet started and there is more than one contractor, a PD should be appointed.

For projects which started before 6 April 2015 where a CDM-C has been appointed, CDM 2015 transitional provisions allow for the CDM-C to continue in this role up to 6 October 2015. However, the CDM-C will need to comply with the revised duties laid out in the transitional provisions in CDM 2015 and NOT simply continue with its CDM 2007 duties.

Clients should check current CDM-C's appointments to ensure they take account of the new revised CDM 2015 services. If the project is to continue beyond 5 October 2015, clients will need to terminate the CDM-C's appointment before 6 October 2015 and appoint a PD.  Arrangements should be put in place to action this.

Further information on the CDM 2015 transitional provisions

Creation of Principal Designer

CDM 2015 introduces the new role of PD.  The PD is the designer with control over the pre-construction phase of the project. More than one contractor on the project triggers its appointment.

The PD is not the CDM-C and which consultant should perform the role has caused lots of debate in the construction industry. Find out more.

The key is to be clear on when you need to appoint a PD.  Basically, if your project has started after 6 April 2015 and has more than one contractor, you will need to appoint a PD.  If your project is already underway at 6 April 2015 and you have appointed a CDM-C then the CDM 2015 transitional provisions will apply (for further information, see above, Removal of CDM-C).

As regards appointing the PD, as at June 2015, as far as we are aware, the Association of Project Safety (APS) is the only industry body who has issued a specific PD appointment with a schedule of services. However, a specific PD appointment is not a pre-requisite and clients may prefer to use their normal consultant appointment standard which is then tailored to take account of the specific PD role and services. The PD role involves the PD giving instructions to other consultants and so clients should consider whether to include provisions in other project team appointment documentation providing that the project team will accept instructions from the PD.

HSE notification threshold changed

The HSE notification threshold has been changed. HSE will need to be notified about projects exceeding 500 person days or "longer than 30 working days" with "more than 20 workers working simultaneously".

For projects underway at 6 April 2015 which have already been notified to the HSE, the CDM 2015 transitional provisions provide that notification of a project in accordance with CDM 2007 will be recognised as a notification for the purposes of CDM 2015.

Notification no longer triggers additional duties

The HSE notification threshold no longer triggers additional duties under CDM 2015 instead, additional duties are sparked by there being more than one "contractor". So, for example, a principal contractor must be appointed where there is more than one contractor on a project as opposed to only when the project is notifiable.

Written construction phase plans for all projects

Written construction phase plans will now be required for all construction projects instead of only notifiable projects. This will probably have little impact on large sites but may mean additional work on small projects where such detail has not been required to date.

Approved Code of Practice abolished and replaced with new simpler guidance

The Approved Code of Practice has been abolished from 6 April 2015 and been replaced by new shorter HSE guidance, which will hopefully encourage greater compliance. In addition to the HSE guidance, the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) has produced industry guidance written by industry volunteers appointed via the Construction Industry Advisory Committee (CONIAC) with small businesses in mind. Guidance has been produced for clients, contractors, principal contractors, designers, principal designers and workers. See guidance.

A move away from the competence bureaucracy

CDM 2015's approach to competence simplifies the CDM 2007 approach, retaining a general requirement for those instructing others to ensure they have the appropriate training and information, however, HSE make clear that the competence of industry professionals is the responsibility of the relevant professional bodies and institutions.  More information on the new competence requirements can be found in the HSE new guidance.


All projects now need to be compliant with CDM 2015 regardless of when they started.

There has been some misinformation in market that projects starting before 6 April 2015 could continue to comply with CDM 2007 up to 6 October 2015. This is not the case – CDM 2015 contains transitional provisions which run until 6 October 2015.  Projects which started before 6 April need to comply with these transitional provisions.  After 5 October 2015, the transitional provisions will fall away and all projects will need to comply with CDM 2015.

Visit the HSE website for more information on transitional provisions

What you need to do now

Your project needs to be compliant with CDM 2015 regardless of when it started so (if you haven't already done so) read the CDM 2015 Regulations and HSE and industry guidance to ensure arrangements are in place for compliance.

And remember ... help is at hand