CDM Regulations

Posted November 26, 2018

The construction; design and management regulations known simply as ‘CDM’ for those in the know are an industry set of holistic standards for the safe construction and welfare practices of personnel in the building industry.


CDM Regulations you say, tell me more…

The regulations were introduced in 1994; sub-legislation to the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act in order to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries. It is indisputable to argue against the highest levels of health and safety in the workplace and a construction site is not exempt from this right. To illustrate how far the industry has come, in the nineteenth century 3 workers died on average for every mile of railway track laid. By comparison today, 30 workers a year still sadly loose their lives within the construction industry. Whilst this is a drastic reduction, it is still one death too many and as such it is the remit of the Health and Safety Executive to continually reduce this figure. A simple mantra of; every person who leaves for work should return home safe and well.


Can you enlighten me to the recent changes to the legislation?

The 2015 update to the regulations recognised that the ultimate responsibility for the achievement of a safe and healthy project is in the hands of the Client as much as your professional design and construction team. Furthermore the revision better integrated the planning and management, the ‘pre-construction phase’ of the project giving more responsibility to the lead designer / architect to ensure that existing site information is appropriately communicated with the wider construction team.


OK, what does this mean for my project?

The 2015 CDM Regulations define domestic clients as, ‘…people who have construction workcarried out on their own home, or the home of a family member that is not done as part of a business, whether for profit or not. CDM regulations apply regardless of project size – the only quirk  is that if a project can be undertaken by only one contractor – eg. an electrician rewiring a house – then the tradesperson automatically assume the client’s responsibilities. In all other projects it is the Client as ‘the responsible person’ who has the duty to appoint a principal designer and a principal contractor.


What do we all have to do?

The main duties can be summarised as follows:

Client Domestic Duties: ‘The Responsible Person’

  • Make suitable arrangements to manage project health & safety including allocating sufficient time and ensuring that there are sufficient resources to carry out the work safely;
  • Make sure that construction work can be carried out safely;
  • Make sure that there are suitable welfare facilities – toilets, washing facilities and so on – for the construction workers.
  • Provide information in your possession about the project (Existing drawings, structural reports etc) to all designers and contractors being appointed.
  • Make sure that the contractor or principal contractor prepares a construction phase health and safety plan.
  • Make sure that the Principal Designer prepares a health & safety file to give to you at the end of the project. This applies where there is more than one contractor only.

Principal Designer:

  • To adopt the principle of prevention throughout the design at the earliest stage
  • To ensure that health and safety best practices are implemented at the design stage
  • To ensure that the health and safety file is completed at the end of the project.

Principal Contractor:

  • To plan, manage and coordinate the building of the project
  • To make arrangements for the provision of adequate site welfare
  • To supervise and ensure construction work can be carried out safely


So that’s why we have surveys and proper plans drawn up before even digging a hole?

In part yes. There’s no arguing that the upfront costs of surveys and design work account for a significant part of your budget, however properly planned work has the best chance of succeeding on time, to budget, to the right quality, with everyone going home safe and sound at the end of each and every day. Happy clients, happy builders; simple and effective.