CDM regulations are in place so that employers and duty holders in the construction industry comply with the law. The HSE recorded 39 fatal injuries to employees in the construction industry in 2020/21– with half of these fatalities a result of falls from a height.
Adhering to CDM regulations can help employers and organisations protect employees and others from harm and help reduce the risk of fines, legal action or notices issued to improve or prohibit works. Provisional figures from HSE for 2020/21 state that from 1,260 notices issued by HSE inspectors, 46% were improvement notices and 54% were prohibition notices. These figures were down from the 1,995 notices issued in the previous year.
What does CDM stand for?
CDM stands for Construction, Design and Management. It is a shortened term for the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. Organisations working in the construction, design and management sectors should adhere to CDM regulations to help protect employee health during construction projects.
What are CDM regulations and when do they apply?
CDM regulations first came into UK law in 1994. CDM regulations 2015 is the latest version of the legislation.
The regulations apply to construction, design or management projects. This means that they apply to projects such as:
- Constructing new-build properties
- Demolition of buildings and premises
- Maintenance work
You should notify the HSE if a construction project intends to last longer than 500 person-days or 30 working days (with 20 or more people working simultaneously).
Failing to follow CDM regulations when projects are underway may place clients, employees, and others at risk. If you or any duty holder is found to be in breach of CDM legislation, you may face legal action which results in a fine or criminal prosecution. For serious breaches of the regulations, including a fatality, a custodial sentence may be imposed.
Key stages of the CDM regulations
CDM regulations outline two main stages in a construction project:
This phase refers to activities or preparatory work that takes place before any construction work begins. This can relate to work such as:
- The hours and dates that work should be undertaken.
- Assessing various health hazards that could arise, such as the potential for falls from a height or the risk of exposure to asbestos-containing materials.
- Ensuring clients and duty holders understand their responsibilities for the construction phase.
The pre-construction phase provides time to prepare for the construction phase and ensure that correct health and safety measures are in place and regulations understand, recorded and communicated as they relate to the project.
The construction phase is where work on a construction project occurs. This begins when work is first undertaken and lasts until the final stages of construction work are completed.
Even when the construction phase is underway, health and safety measures should be reviewed and updated.
This stage is where the principal contractor (if applicable) will bear most of the responsibility for the construction project. Their duties include seeing that all the plans and measures prepared in the pre-construction phase are put into action and that risks to health and safety are controlled.
There is nothing specifically mentioned about the post-construction phase in the CDM regulations.
However, this phase can act as a review of the construction phase. Changes may be required, new risks may be identified, and the health and safety measures in place will need to be noted in any review. The CDM regulations 2015 state: “At the end of the project, the principal designer, or where there is no principal designer, the principal contractor, must pass the health and safety file to the client.”
Key roles under CDM regulations
There are three key roles under the CDM regulations. These are:
This is the person, group or organisation that has authorised the construction work to be carried out. Although CDM clients may not be directly involved in the construction themselves, they still have a say over how the work is carried out. Their duties range from:
- Ensuring construction work can go ahead safely.
- Giving the pre-construction information to the right people.
- Allocating appropriate time and resources to the construction project.
HSE states that a CDM designer is a person or organisation responsible for either preparing or modifying design plans for construction projects. They may also instruct others to carry out these tasks. CDM designers involve themselves in the technical work of a project and ensure:
- Other individuals are aware of their CDM legal responsibilities.
- They take steps to reduce any health and safety risks.
- Plan their design work on information and data gathered in the pre-construction phase.
A CDM contractor can be a freelancer, contractor or an organisation that undertakes or oversees construction work. The duties of CDM contractors do not vary and apply even when construction project employees are volunteers, contracted, permanent or self-employed.
If a construction project has more than one contractor, a CDM client should appoint a principal designer and a principal contractor. Principal designers can be in charge of the pre-construction phase and principal contractors during the construction phase. Or, the CDM client can fulfil these duties themselves if they decide not to appoint a person or organisation to these roles.
Alongside the CDM regulations 2015, other UK legislation that may apply to construction projects:
- Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
- Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002
- Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996
- Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998
- Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
- Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998
- Work at Height Regulations 2005
Praxis42 CDM training
We offer a CDM Awareness training course to help you understand the CDM regulations and your responsibility in following the legislation. Our expert training covers critical elements of the CDM regulations, how to put together a pre-construction plan and duty holders’ legal responsibilities.