The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015) replaced the CDM 2007 on 6 April this year. Although there was a transitional period of six months from 6 April 2015 to 5 October 2015, you cannot rely on the transitional provisions beyond 5 October 2015. 

There are a number of key changes in CDM 2015 which you should be aware of as they will impact on both your new and current projects from 6 October 2015.

What is CDM 2015? 

CDM 2015 governs construction-specific requirements for health and safety and affects nearly every construction project. There are no exclusions for small projects or domestic projects. If you are carrying out any construction, engineering or development project in Great Britain, you should seek advice on CDM 2015. Breach of CDM 2015 is a criminal offence. The lower court maximum penalty is a fine of £20,000 and/or 12 months’ imprisonment and the higher court maximum penalty is an unlimited fine and/or two years’ imprisonment. 

To whom does CDM 2015 apply?

CDM 2015 applies to:

  • Clients, who will usually need to appoint a principal designer and principal contractor;
  • Designers, who have certain obligations when designing the works;
  • The principal designer, who supervises the pre-construction phase and gathers information;
  • The principal contractor, who works alongside the principal designer during the principal designer's appointment; and
  • Contractors, who are obliged to ensure they work on a safe site.

The CDM 2015 notification test is that the client is responsible for notifying the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) of construction works which are scheduled to: 

1. last longer than 30 working days and have more than 20 workers working simultaneously at any point on the project;

2. or exceed 500 person days.

What are my duties under CDM 2015?

The role of CDM co-ordinator will be abolished from 6 October 2015 and a principal designer will need to be appointed to co-ordinate the pre-construction phase (where the works involve more than one contractor).

If you are a client you will have enhanced duties under CDM 2015 and increased responsibility for health and safety. A client has duties before, during and after construction and some of the former CDM co-ordinator's duties will need to be undertaken by you as the client. Under CDM 2015, you have an absolute obligation to ensure that you provide pre-construction information, that a principal contractor prepares a construction phase plan before works begin and that a principal designer prepares a health and safety file. The duty to appoint a principal designer is triggered if there is more than one contractor (which includes subcontractors). As soon as they are appointed, designers and contractors have their own duties under CDM 2015.

CDM 2015 also applies to domestic clients. A domestic client is a client “for whom a project is being carried out which is not in the course or furtherance of a business of that client”. Although domestic clients may delegate their duties as principal designer or principal contractor, a domestic client will need to ensure that arrangements are put in place for the suitable management of the project and will be personally responsible for the provision of pre-construction information which is in its possession.

What should I do now?

If your project was already underway by 6 April 2015 and a CDM co-ordinator had already been appointed, the transitional provisions allow the CDM co-ordinator to continue acting until 5 October 2015. However, a principal designer must be appointed to replace the CDM co-ordinator by 6 October 2015, unless the project completes before that date. Until 6 October 2015, the CDM co-ordinator should comply with the obligations of the principal designer in CDM 2015. 

If more than one contractor is involved in the works and the works have started before or after 6 April 2015 but no CDM co-ordinator was appointed, you should appoint a principal designer in accordance with CDM 2015 as soon as practicable and no later than 5 October 2015. The principal designer should be a “designer with control over the pre-construction phase”. An existing architect’s role or another lead designer’s role may be extended to cover the obligations of a principal designer under CDM 2015.

Practical Tips

As the transitional period comes to an end and CDM 2015 comes into full force on 6 October 2015, it is crucial that clients and all duty holders are aware of the imminent changes to their obligations regarding health and safety on construction sites. If you are concerned about the changes brought in by CDM 2015 on 6 October 2015:

  • Consider the stage that your project is at and whether it will complete before 6 October 2015;
  • Discuss the changes with your design team and contractor;
  • Consider the termination provisions in any existing CDM co-ordinator’s appointment; and
  • If you have any doubts, seek legal advice.