The long-awaited Construction (Design and Management) (“CDM”) Regulations 2007 have now been published and came into force on 6 April 2007. The new regulations consolidate the existing CDM Regulations 1994 and the Construction (Health Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996 and are more rigorous in their approach to managing health and safety.

So why have the CDM Regulations 1994 changed?

Concerns were raised about the complexity of the existing CDM Regulations 1994, the bureaucratic approach of many duty holders and the belief that the main aims of the legislation were not being fully realised. The new regulations seek to tackle all these areas and will substantially change health and safety practices for all parties involved. In a nutshell, they seek to simplify the health and safety process, reduce accidents and clarify the duties owed.

All parties involved in construction work should be aware of the following key changes:

  • The client’s agent role is removed. The client can no longer transfer its duties to a third party.
  • The planning supervisor role is abolished and replaced with the CDM coordinator role, who has enhanced duties.
  • The duty holders who are subject to the regulations are now the client, the designers, the principal contractor, contractors and the CDM coordinator.
  • The client is responsible for appointing the CDM coordinator and the principal contractor and is deemed to have assumed these roles until these appointments are made.
  • No party can be appointed unless they are “competent” to carry out their duties. Competence is whether a party is qualified to do a job. It is not entirely clear from the regulations what will be taken into account in measuring competence, but it is likely to include track record, membership of professional bodies, resources and responsibilities as well as what kind of training a party has had.
  • There is more emphasis on all duty holders to cooperate with others to facilitate the carrying out of their duties.
  • The emphasis is on planning and design rather than paperwork.
  • The regulations are structured differently to allow the duties of each duty holder to be more precise.

The duty holders’ main responsibilities are as follows:

  • The client takes on a management role and must now ensure that the arrangements other duty holders have made are sufficient to ensure the health and safety of those working on the project. In particular, the client must make sure that the project is managed in terms of allocation of sufficient time and resources and must provide designers and contractors with “pre-construction information” which includes information about the site, construction work and structure. Before work starts on site, the client must ensure that suitable welfare facilities and a construction phase plan are in place. The client must also tell the contractors how much time they are allowed before work starts on site to plan and prepare for the construction work.
  • The CDM coordinator must provide the client with advice on health and safety risk management matters, coordinate the design and planning stage, notify the HSE of the project and prepare the health and safety file. The CDM coordinator must be appointed before the design works start. It may be tricky to ascertain exactly when that will be, but it is suggested that the CDM coordinator should be appointed at design concept stage, before pen is put to paper.
  • The principal contractor must prepare the construction phase plan and manage, plan and monitor the construction phase to ensure there are no risks to health and safety. It must draw up site rules, ensure the contractors have sufficient time to enable them to prepare properly for the construction phase and take reasonable steps to ensure that every construction worker has had adequate training, induction and information in order to eliminate health and safety risks.
  • The contractors must provide the principal contractor with information which might affect health and safety. They must also make sure that any contractors that they appoint comply with directions from the principal contractor and any site rules and should make sure the construction work is carried out in accordance with the construction phase plan.
  • A designer includes anyone who has had input into the design of the structure, materials or system for a particular structure. It has to avoid foreseeable risks in its design by eliminating hazards and reducing risks and it must provide information about its design to other duty holders to help them comply with their duties under the regulations.
  • All parties have to provide information for the health and safety file and all contractors, designers and the CDM coordinator must ensure the client is aware of its duties under the regulations.

Do the new regulations apply retrospectively?

The new regulations are not intended to apply retrospectively but the duty holders will be expected to comply with them from 6 April 2007. This includes projects which have already started running by this date. It is unclear how this will work in practice for projects which are halfway through but it is clear that the client will be expected to take on its additional responsibilities as of 6 April 2007. All duty holders should become familiar with their duties under the new regulations, which can be accessed at www.opsi.gov.uk.