Construction Decade in Review: 2015 - Construction Design and Management Regulations come into force

With a new decade nearly upon us, we decided to reflect on the events of the past 10 years, and the impact they’ve had on the construction industry. Following yesterday’s story on health and safety failings in 2014, we’re looking at the launch of the Construction Design and Management Regulations in 2015…

While Jeremy Clarkson was losing his head over a steak sandwich, changes to health and safety in construction were taking place in 2015.

It was an eventful year for all the wrong reasons: terrorist attacks, the migrant crisis and hangry TV presenters (Mr Clarkson, of course) dominated the news. As the world became more chaotic, construction attempted to move in the opposite direction; putting rules and responsibilities in place to improve health and safety.

The Construction Design and Management (CDM) Regulations 2015 came into effect on 6 April, with the aim of improving health and safety in design and construction and making roles and responsibilities clearer. The idea was to capture issues on projects earlier by repatriating risk to those who influence the project and to ensure standards on construction sites are improved.

So, what changed? For starters, the CDM coordinator role was jettisoned. Instead, responsibility is now shared between the principal contractor and the client, and a new role – the principal designer – has been introduced.

A principal designer must plan, manage, monitor health and safety in design, and coordinate the pre-construction information for a project. In other words, they liaise with the client and their team for the duration of the project. The idea is to minimise risks to health and safety during design, construction and to future building owners.

Under the regulations, the principal contractor must liaise with the principal designers and other designers regarding any changes to a project design and co-ordinate those changes. They must develop a Construction Phase Plan (CPP) and make sure subcontractors are aware of any significant risks that may affect their work. The principal contractor is responsible for inducting all subcontractors and visitors as necessary, so they are aware of the health and safety arrangements of the site.

As for other contractors on the project, it’s their responsibility to manage health and safety on a daily basis and report any significant risks to the principal contractor.

Have the regulations been successful? Removing the role of CDM coordinator and introducing the principal designer hasn’t been popular among industry professionals, and a common workaround is to hire a CDM advisor who can assist the client and principal designer with their responsibilities.

The CDM Regulations set out to simplify all construction projects including domestic projects where a homeowner is the CDM client, but subsequent research has shown they seem to have had the opposite effect.

In June 2017, a Construction Manager and Health and Safety at Work survey revealed that industry professionals felt the reforms had somewhat missed their mark.

Thanks to David Cant of Veritas Consulting for his input.


More posts in our ‘Construction Decade in Review’ series

2010: How a fragile coalition set the stage for the decade

2011: Leaning tower sets a new world record

2012: Construction takes gold

2013: Help to Buy mortgage scheme launches

2014: Construction health and safety failings hit home

2016: Modernise or die – a shocking message to the sector


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About the Author: Louise Stewart-Young

Louise is LMC's PR manager. A former journalist, she has a degree in mechanical engineering and a strong technical background.

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