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CDM Regulations

The Role of the Client

Introduction

The CDM Regulations are aimed at improving the overall management and co-ordination of health, safety and welfare throughout all stages of a construction project to reduce the large number of serious and fatal accidents and cases of ill health which happen every year in the construction industry.

The CDM Regulations have placed duties on all those who can contribute to the health and safety of a construction project. Duties are placed upon clients, designers and contractors and the 2007 Regulations have replaced the duty holder Planning Supervisor with a new duty holder - the CDM Co-ordinator.

The degree of detail, as well as the time and effort required to comply with legal duties, needs only to be in proportion to the nature, size and level of health and safety risks involved in the project. Therefore, for small projects with minimal health and safety risks, clients are only required to take simple, straightforward steps and few, if any, specialist skills are needed.

To which projects do the CDM Regulations apply?

The CDM Regulations apply to all construction projects. However, there are a number of situations where the project is not notifiable. These include:

  • construction work other than demolition that does not last longer than 30 days or does not involve more than 500 man days to complete;
  • construction work for a domestic client; construction work carried out inside offices and shops or similar premises without interrupting the normal activities in the premises and without separating the construction activities from the other activities.
  • People who as part of their business construct houses for subsequent transfer with land (whether by sale or other means) to domestic clients are known as developers under the CDM Regulations and have duties as clients.

If there is any doubt about whether the CDM Regulations apply to your project, or whether you have legal duties as a client, you should contact us without delay.

Using an Agent

Under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 clients can no longer appoint someone else to carry out their duties as a client.

Who are Clients?

A client is an organisation or individual for whom a construction project is carried out. Clients only have duties when the project is associated with a business or other undertaking (whether for profit or not). Domestic clients are a special case and do not have duties under the CDM Regulations 2007.

If there is doubt as to who the client is, take into account who:

decides what is to be constructed, where, when and by whom

  • commissions the design and construction work
  • initiates the work
  • is at the head of the procurement chain
  • engages the contractors.

What Clients must do for all Projects

Clients must make sure that:

  • Designers, contractors and other team members are competent (or work under the supervision of a competent person), adequately resourced and appointed early enough for the work they have to do
  • They allow sufficient time for each stage of the project, from concept onwards
  • They co-operate with others concerned in the project so that other duty holders can comply with their duties under the regulations
  • They co-ordinate their own work with others involved with the project in order to ensure the safety of those carrying out the construction work, and others who may be affected by it
  • There are reasonable management arrangements in place throughout the project to ensure that the construction work can be carried out, so far as is reasonably practical, safely and without risk to health
  • Contractors have made arrangements for suitable welfare facilities to be provided from the start of the project, and throughout the construction phase
  • Any fixed workplaces (e.g. offices, shops, factories, schools) which are to be constructed will comply, in respect of their design and the materials used, with any requirements of the Workplace (Health Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992
  • Relevant information likely to be needed by designers, contractors or others to plan and manage their work is passed to them in a timely manner in order that they can comply with regulations.

Co-operation, Co-ordination, Timeliness and Resources

The CDM Regulations 2007 place much emphasis on co-operation between parties, and co-ordination of the work. The Approved Code of Practice explains that co-operation and co-ordination can only be meaningful if the relevant members of the project team have been appointed early enough to allow them to contribute to risk reduction.

This is particularly important during the design stage when clients, designers, CDM Co-ordinators and contractors should contribute to discussions on buildability, usability and maintainability of the finished structure. Clients should seek to appoint those who can assist with design considerations at the earliest opportunity so that they can make a full contribution to risk reduction during the planning stages.

Unrealistic deadlines and a failure to allocate sufficient funds are two of the largest contributors to poor control of risk on site. When engaging designers and contractors, and for notifiable projects appointing CDM Co-ordinators and principal contractors, clients have to consider the resources (e.g. staff, equipment and particularly, time) needed to plan and carry out the work properly.

One of the many key changes from the CDM Regulations 1994 is that contractors who are being considered for appointment are now to be informed of the minimum time period allowed to them for planning and preparation before construction work begins on site.

Contractors should be given sufficient time after their appointment to allow them to plan the work and mobilise the necessary equipment (e.g. welfare facilities) and staff to allow the work to proceed safely and without risk to health. This is particularly important where the project involves demolition work - contractors must be given sufficient time for the planning and safe execution of any demolition activities.

Arranging Design Work

Clients must only employ designers who are competent to carry out their CDM duties.

Clients often employ more than one designer, for example: architects, civil, structural and services engineers. In such cases they all need to know who does what, and the timing of the appointments needs to enable the design work to be co-ordinated from an early stage.

The Approved Code of Practice advocates nominating a lead designer as being the best way to ensure co-ordination and co-operation of design work that involves a number of designers.

Management Arrangements

Most clients, particularly those who only occasionally commission construction work, will not be experts in the construction process and for this reason they are not required to take an active role in managing the work. Clients, however, are required to take reasonable steps to ensure that suitable management arrangements are in place throughout the life of the project so that the work can be carried out safely and without risk to health. The arrangements put in place should focus on the needs of the particular job and should be proportionate to the risks arising from the work.

For both notifiable and non-notifiable projects the client will need to ensure that arrangements are in place to ensure that:

  • There is clarity as to the roles, functions and responsibilities of members of the project team
  • Those with duties under the regulations have sufficient time and resources to comply with their duties
  • There is good communication, co-ordination and co-operation between members of the project team (e.g. between designers and contractors)
  • Designers are able to confirm that their designs (and any design changes) have taken account of the requirements of Regulation 11 (designers duties), and that the different design elements will work together in a way which does not create risks to the health and safety of those constructing, using or maintaining the structure
  • The contractor is provided with the pre-construction information
  • Contractors are able to confirm that health and safety standards on site will be controlled and monitored, and that welfare facilities will be provided by the contractor from the start of the construction phase through to handover at completion.

When deciding whether management arrangements are suitable and maintained throughout the project, clients will need to make a judgement, taking account of the nature of the project and the risks that the work will entail. If this judgement is reasonable, and clearly based on the evidence requested and provided, clients will not be criticised if the arrangements subsequently prove to be inadequate, or if the company who has made the arrangements fails to implement them properly without the client’s knowledge.

Providing the Pre-construction Information

Clients must provide designers and contractors who may be bidding for the work (or who they intend to engage), with the project-specific health and safety information needed to identify hazards and risks associated with the design and construction work. (The Pre-construction Information). For notifiable projects, the CDM Co-ordinator will assist the client in fulfilling this requirement.

The information should be provided as part of the tendering or early procurement process. It therefore needs to be identified, assembled and sent out in good time, so that those who need it when preparing to bid or when preparing for the work can decide what resources (including time) will be needed to enable design, planning and construction work to be organised and carried out properly. Where design work continues during the construction phase, the pre-construction information will need to be provided to designers before work starts on each new element of the design. Similarly, where contractors are appointed during the construction phase, each contractor (or those who are bidding for the work) must be provided with the pre-construction information in time for them to take this into account when preparing their bid, or preparing for work on the site.

Clients who already have a health and safety file from earlier work, or who have previously carried out surveys or assessments, including under the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002, may already have all, or much of the information needed. However, where there are gaps in this information, the client should ensure that these are filled by commissioning surveys or by making other reasonable enquiries. It is not acceptable for clients to make general reference to hazards which might exist - for example ‘…. there may be asbestos present in the building’. Clients should carry out the necessary surveys in advance and provide the necessary information to those who need it.

The Pre-Construction information provided should be sufficient to ensure that significant risks during the work can be anticipated and planned for. It should concentrate on those issues that designers and contractors could not reasonably be expected to anticipate or identify, and not on obvious hazards such as the likelihood that the project would involve work at height.

Welfare Arrangements

The CDM Regulations 2007 place particular emphasis on the need to have adequate welfare facilities from the start of construction through to practical completion. Clients do not have to provide welfare facilities for construction workers, but if there are particular constraints, which make it difficult for facilities to be provided, the client should co-operate with contractors and assist them with their arrangements.

Additional Duties for Clients for Notifiable Projects

In addition to the duties set out above, clients must:

  • Appoint a CDM Co-ordinator to advise and assist with their duties and to co-ordinate the arrangements for health and safety during the planning phase
  • Appoint a Principal Contractor to plan and manage the construction work – preferably early enough for them to work with the designer on issues relating to buildability, usability and maintainability
  • Ensure that the construction phase does not start until the Principal Contractor has prepared a suitable health and safety plan and made arrangements for suitable welfare facilities to be present from the start of the work
  • Make sure the health and safety file is prepared, reviewed, or updated ready for handover at the end of the construction work. This must then be kept available for any future construction work or to pass on to a new owner.

Getting the right people for these roles and making early appointments is particularly important for clients with little construction or health and safety expertise, as they will need to rely on the advice given by the CDM Co-ordinator on matters relating to the competence of those who they intend to appoint, and the adequacy of the management arrangements made by appointees. For notifiable projects, if a client does not make these appointments they become legally liable for the work that the CDM Co-ordinator and Principal Contractor should do, as well as for not making the appointments.

Appointment of the CDM Co-ordinator

For notifiable projects, the client must appoint a CDM Co-ordinator before detailed design work commences.

Information on the appointment of a CDM Co-ordinator is provided later in this section.

Appointment of the Principal Contractor

For notifiable projects, clients must appoint one competent and adequately resourced principal contractor to plan, manage and monitor the construction work.

Information on the appointment of a principal contractor is provided later in this section.

Management Arrangements

For notifiable projects, clients must appoint a CDM Co-ordinator who will assist them with the assessment of the adequacy of the management arrangements made by others in the project team. Having appointed a CDM Co-ordinator, the client is entitled to rely on their advice when making these judgements.

Before the Construction Phase Begins

Before construction work begins clients must ensure that suitable welfare facilities have been provided by the principal contractor, and that the Construction Phase Plan has been prepared by the principal contractor. With the help of the CDM Co-ordinator, clients must ensure that the plan is project-specific and suitable.

The Health and Safety File

The Health and Safety File is a source of information that will help to reduce the risks and costs involved in future construction work, including cleaning, maintenance, alterations, refurbishment and demolition. Clients therefore need to ensure that the Health and Safety File is prepared and kept available for inspection in the event of such work. It contains key information, which the client, or the client’s successor, must pass on to anyone preparing or carrying out work to which the CDM Regulations 2007 apply.

After the construction phase, normally at practical completion, the Health and Safety File must be finalised and given to the client by the CDM Co-ordinator. In some cases, for example where there is partial occupation or phased handover of a project it may be needed earlier.

What Clients don’t have to do

Clients are not required or expected to:

  • plan or manage construction projects themselves
  • specify how work must be done
  • provide welfare facilities for those carrying out construction work (though they should co-operate with the Principal Contractor to assist with his arrangements)
  • check designs to make sure that the Regulations have been complied with
  • visit the site (to supervise or check construction work standards)
  • employ third party assurance advisors to monitor health and safety standards on site (though there may be benefits to the client in doing so)
  • subscribe to third party competence assessment schemes (though there may be benefits from doing so).

Appointing a CDM Co-ordinator

For notifiable projects, the client must appoint a CDM Co-ordinator before detailed design work commences.

The CDM Co-ordinator provides clients with a key project advisor in respect of construction health and safety risk management matters. Their main purpose is:

  • to help clients to carry out their duties
  • to co-ordinate health and safety aspects of the design work
  • to co-ordinate the production of the health and safety file.

Early appointment of the CDM Co-ordinator is crucial for effective planning and establishing management arrangements from the start. The regulations require the appointment to take place as soon as is practical after initial design work or other preparation for construction work has begun.

The CDM Co-ordinator needs to be in a position to be able to co-ordinate the health and safety aspects of the design work and advise on the suitability and compatibility of designs, and therefore they should be appointed before significant detailed design work begins. Significant detailed design work includes preparation of the initial concept design and implementation of any strategic brief. As a scheme moves into the detailed design stage, it becomes more difficult to make fundamental changes that eliminate hazards and reduce risks associated with early design decisions.

Providing information to the CDM Co-ordinator

The CDM Co-ordinator must be provided with any information possessed by the client that is relevant to the health and safety of the project. This could be information about the site, the premises, work processes or activities where the construction work is to be carried out. The information may be to hand (eg existing drawings) or surveys of the site or premises might have to be arranged to obtain the relevant information (eg determining the location and presence of asbestos). It might also involve obtaining information from utility companies on the location of services.

Appointing a Principal Contractor

For notifiable projects, clients must appoint one competent, adequately resourced principal contractor to plan, manage and monitor the construction work. It is the CDM Co-ordinator’s role to advise the client on the appointment of a principal contractor.The principal contractor can be an organisation or an individual, and is usually the main or managing contractor.

A principal contractor’s key duty is to co-ordinate and manage the construction phase and to ensure the health and safety of everybody carrying out construction work, or who are affected by the work.

Principal Contractors should be told as part of the Pre-construction Information the minimum amount of time they will be given for planning and preparation, before the construction work is expected to start on site.

There can only be one principal contractor at any one time. To ensure continuity, clients should normally keep the same principal contractor for the whole project from site clearance and preparation to final completion. However, there may be exceptions, for example:

  • preliminary works, e.g. involving demolition or site preparation work, where there is a substantial delay between site clearance and the start of new construction work
  • separate projects for different clients, e.g. for a building shell and subsequent fitting-out work.

In these cases, any change in principal contractor should:

  • be clear to, and agreed by all those involved, particularly in relation to the timing of the change
  • be clearly recorded
  • provide the practical authority to enable the principal contractor to discharge his duties.

Making arrangements for Designers or other Contractors to carry out work

Clients must only employ designers who are competent to carry out their CDM duties.

Clients often employ more than one designer, for example architects, civil, structural and services engineers. In such cases they all need to know who does what and the timing of the appointments needs to enable the design work to be co-ordinated from an early stage. The Approved Code of Practice advocates nominating one designer as the ‘lead designer’ as being the best way to ensure co-ordination and co-operation of design work that involves a number of designers.

Ensuring a suitable Health & Safety Plan has been prepared before construction work begins

Before construction work starts it must be ensured, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the Principal Contractor has prepared a suitable health and safety plan. Your CDM Co-ordinator can advise you on whether the plan is suitable. They have to do this if you request it.

A decision on whether the Health and Safety Plan is suitable is only expected to be made from the information that is available at the start of the construction phase. For many projects, not all information relevant to the project may be available to develop the Health and Safety Plan fully before the construction phase starts. For example, not all the design work may have been completed or many of the subcontractors who will be carrying out the work have yet to be appointed. However, the Health and Safety Plan should be sufficiently developed so that:

the general framework for dealing with the management organisation, emergency procedures, arrangements for monitoring, communications and welfare is in place; and it addresses the key tasks of the early work packages.

The degree of detail in the Health and Safety Plan should be in proportion to the nature, size and level of health and safety risks involved in the project. Projects involving minimal risks will call for simple, straightforward plans. Large projects, or those involving significant risks, will need further details.

The Health & Safety File

The Health and Safety File is a source of information that will help to reduce the risks and costs involved in future construction work, including cleaning, maintenance, alterations, refurbishment and demolition. Clients therefore need to ensure that the Health and Safety File is prepared and kept available for inspection in the event of such work. It contains key information, which the client, or the client’s successor, must pass on to anyone preparing or carrying out work to which the CDM Regulations 2007 apply.

After the construction phase, normally at practical completion, the Health and Safety File must be finalised and given to the client by the CDM Co-ordinator. In some cases, for example where there is partial occupation or phased handover of a project, it may be needed earlier.