Legislation Update: CDM 2015

On 6 April 2015 the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015) came into force, replacing CDM 2007.

What are the reasons for the Health Safety Executive (HSE) changing CDM 2007?

 Although the broad structure of CDM 2007 was fit for purpose, problems generally arose through misinterpretation of the Regulations. Unfortunately, they had led to an industry approach to competence which was heavy-handed and in many cases burdensome, particularly on SMEs. The CDM 2015’s primary objective is to improve worker protection; whilst simplifying the regulatory package. It should also meet the government’s better regulation principles.

 What are the main changes?

 Virtually everyone involved in a construction project has legal duties under CDM 2015. These ‘duty holders’ and the changes to their roles are defined as follows:


  • Definition of a Client under CDM will include domestic projects;
  • Where there is more than one contractor, or it is reasonably foreseeable that there will be, the client must appoint a Principal Designer (PD) and a Principal Contractor (PC); for commercial projects, the Client is deemed to undertake those roles if no appointments made;
  • Clients will be responsible for notification of applicable projects to the HSE.

Domestic Clients:

 Where the Client is a domestic client:

  • The Client’s duties must be carried out by the contractor or the principal contractor;

If there is likely to be more than one contractor working on the site then the client must appoint a PD and PC. If no appointments are made by the Client, the first Designer appointed will be deemed to be the Principal Designer and the first Contractor appointed will be deemed to be the Principal Contractor.

  • The client can have a written agreement with the PD that the PD carries out the Client’s duties.


 Designers’ duties regarding elimination, reduction or control of risks has been more clearly spelt out.

  • Designer must take into account the general principles of prevention and any pre-construction information to eliminate, so far as is reasonably practicable, foreseeable risk to the health and safety of any persons;
  • If it is not possible to eliminate then take steps to reduce and control, provide information and ensure information is included in the Health and Safety File.

Principal Contractors:

 Very little change here;

  • Construction phase plans no longer need to be checked by client or client’s adviser before start on site. Clients may be required to check plans in the final version of the regulations;
  • Principal Contractor is responsible for updating, reviewing and revising the Health and Safety File.


Again, very little change here, but…

  • If there is no Principal Contractor, a construction phase plan is required;
  • Contractor must comply with any directions given by the Principal Designer or Principal Contractor.

CDM Coordinators:

  • Will no longer exist as a statutory appointment from April 2015;
  • Any existing appointment will be allowed to run until October 2015 at the latest.

Much of the CDMC’s duties under CDM2007 will be taken on by the new Principal Designer role.

The Principal Designer role – what does it involve?

The Principal Designer is responsible for planning, managing, monitoring and coordinating health and safety during the pre-construction phase, taking into account the general ‘principles of prevention’. The PD must ensure:

  • The project is carried out without risk to health and safety, so far as is reasonably practicable;
  • That assistance is provided to the client in preparation of pre-construction information;
  • Identification, elimination or control of foreseeable risks to health and safety;
  • The cooperation of all;
  • That designers comply with their duties;
  • The prompt provision of pre-construction information to all designers and all contractors appointed by the client;
  • That they liaise with the principal contractor for duration of project;
  • That they prepare a Health and Safety File which includes information from client regarding the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.


 As a designer you need to understand these changes thoroughly and advise your clients adequately and as soon as you are appointed. You should only take on the PD role if you have the capability to do so or have someone capable to help you discharge the duties. If you choose to employ someone else to do the PD role on your behalf it will not transfer the legal liability but may help you discharge the duties. Many more projects will require the appointment of a Principal Designer and Principal Contractor, although not as many projects will require notification to the HSE. The emphasis is very much on people taking responsibility for risk, not passing it on. A competent designer will be expected to be capable of discharging the PD role on smaller projects if asked by the client. Larger or more complex projects may require the appointment of a construction health and safety (CDM) consultant to advise and assist the PD or client.

Transitional provisions CDM 2007 – 2015

Projects commenced on site prior to April 2015 are still applicable under CDM 2007 and appointment of a CDMC.  These projects then have six months from April 2015 to integrate the requirements of CDM 2015 and transfer the function of a CDMC into Principal Designer.

For more information about the new regulations please visit the HSE website.


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