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What is CDM? and what do I need H&S for?:

July 22nd 2019

Legislation that deals with the Health and Safety of the project is covered under the CDM regulations 2015 [Construction and Design Management regulations]. The legislation has been driven by a clear desire by the Health and Safety Executive [HSE] to make construction sites safer places of work. In 2017/2018 144 workers were killed during activities involved carry out their work. Not all of this work was construction related. 38 workers were killed in fatal injuries and accidents on construction sites, with the majority of fatal accidents caused by falls from height, being struck by a moving object or vehicle, or trapped by something collapsing or overturning. In the same year 100 members of the public were killed due to work related activities. Again not all of this work was construction related.
The HSE seeks to improve the track record of safety throughout construction projects in the UK and through legislation such as CDM regulations 2007 significant advances in site safety have been recorded over recent years. The RIBA, contractors and HSE strive to improve working safety standards further, and as an industry we seek to achieve zero incidents or fatalities through the rigorous planning and recording of construction activities.

Client Responsibilities

Briefly, under all commercial projects CDM 2015 Regulations the client is considered responsible for ensuring adequate measures are put in place to manage Health and Safety on the Project, and the client has the duty to appoint the Principal Designer.
Similarly, under domestic Projects the Architect, or the designer in charge of the project, is appointed to discharge client duties under the regulations. Under CDM regulations where domestic works are undertaken the responsibility for discharging the client’s duties defaults to the lead consultant if no other arrangements are put in place with the client.
The appointment of Principal Designer to manage the Health and Safety of the project differs to that of the traditional roles associated with the appointment of an Architect. Traditionally an architects role has been to undertake design, construction and contract administration services on the client’s behalf. The roles, responsibilities, time taken, and duties of a principal Designer are different to the traditional construction role of an architect, and as such has a separate fee agreement and explicit Principal Designer appointment documentation associated with it.

Principal Designer

The main responsibility of a Principal Designer is to plan, manage, monitor and coordinate risks associated with the works in the construction of and use and maintenance of buildings in the pre-construction phase. The principal designer seeks to eliminate foreseeable health and safety risks to anyone affected by the work, and where that is not possible to take steps to reduce or control those risks.
This is achieved by sensibly planning the work, so the risks are managed from start to finish, by having the right people for the job at the right time. It is key that the Principal Designer and other designer duty holders have the right mix of skills, knowledge and experience and organisational capability in order to carry out the functions and responsibilities under the CDM regulations. The client has the duty to appoint the Principal Designer.
Commonly the Principal Designer is appointed by the client at design stage to manage the flow of information and to help design out risks associated with the project, and to provide pre construction information to the Principal Contractor before works start on site. The PD will help and advise the client in bringing together the pre-construction information and provide information to designers and contractors needed for them to carry out their duties.
The team must cooperate and coordinate different aspects of the work with others, meaning that the right information about the risks and how they are being managed is available. Effective communication is key during the process, and we consult and engage with other duty holder about the risks involved and how they are being managed as part of our appointment as Principal Designer.

As Principal Designers we review the impact of H&S on every project we undertake, and this is something that we advise you specifically of during the project. We consider the impacts of design proposals and design changes at outline brief stage and inform other designers and duty holders of key information by sharing risk registers that show how risks are being managed in real time throughout the design process.
We review specific aspects of the project including our own elements of design and those of other contributing consultants. At key stages of design development we review the project risks through the use of our 3D BIM workflow and respond accordingly to eliminate, reduce and manage risks on a project by project basis.

Principal Contractor

The Principal Contractor is appointed prior to works beginning on site to manage the health and safety of the workforce and residents on site. The Principal Contractor also has specific duties to discharge on behalf of the client during the Construction Phase, and this involves both managing the risks of how works are undertaken on site, and the sequencing of works, but also of contributing to the Health and Safety File.
The Health and Safety File is a record of risk associated with the building or the site, along with information for safe operation of key equipment and maintenance that may be required in the normal use of the building. The Principal Designer continues to liaise with The Principal Contractor, keeping them informed of any risks that need to be controlled during the construction phase, and also feeding in any changes required through to the H&S File.
The Health and Safety File
The Principal Designer, other consultant Designers, and Principal Contractor contribute under the CDM regulations, on the clients behalf, to managing Health and Safety on the project [big or small] and in doing so provide information to the Health and Safety File which is handed over to the client upon completion of the project, and identifies any residual risks associated with future work on the site.


Construction sites are potentially very dangerous places of work that can also have an impact upon members of the public. The CDM regulations seek to make construction sites safer, and reduce all fatalities and significant risks on site. The actions required to make the project safer for all people affected by the work are best coordinated by a Principal Designer in the Pre-Construction phase, and we are able to offer this service on your behalf. Constructive Thinking offer the right mix of knowledge, skills and experience to manage health and safety for your project, and to eliminate, control and manage risks associated with the work. Constructive thinking act as key consultant central to the process of project delivery, and able to influence design risks and safety throughout the project, and this makes us the best appointment for managing health and Safety for your project.

It’s only a small project after all…