Out with the old – in with the new
The new Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 came into force on 6 April 2015.
So what’s changed?
Principal Designer v CDM Co-ordinator
The biggest change brought by the regulations is to give the old CDM coordinator the boot in favour of a new and shinier model: the principal designer. The appointment of the principal designer is intended to replace the CDM co-ordinator appointed under the previous regulations. The principal designer, and the principal contractor, must both be appointed where there is more than one contractor engaged in a construction project.
In general terms, the duties previously carried out by the CDM coordinator will now be split between the client and the principal designer.
The new principal designer is put in charge of preparing the construction phase plan, containing health and safety arrangements, or finding someone else to do it for them. The principal designer must also review, update and revise the health and safety file. Carrying out a similar role to the old CDM coordinator, they must also provide the principal contractor and all designers with information, as well as keeping the peace for the duration of the work.
If a principal designer is NOT appointed to a project, the client must themselves carry out the duties of the principal designer.
Where a project has already entered the construction phase and there are several contractors but no CDM coordinator, the client shall appoint a principal contractor. In this situation the client is not required to appoint a principal designer, but may do so if he wishes. The principal contractor will draw up the construction phase plan in terms of regulation 12 of the 2007 Regulations as usual. If the client chooses not to appoint a principal designer, the principal contractor must prepare a health and safety file pursuant to regulation 12(5) as soon as possible.
Where, on the other hand, the construction project already has a CDM coordinator, then that appointment continues to have effect until the project comes to an end or a principal designer is appointed. Where the project will not finish before 6 October 2015, a principal designer must be appointed by that date. If the project will come to an end before that date then the various duties set out in the regulations, to provide the principal designer with information and liaise with them, apply to the CDM coordinator instead.
Clients are being given greater responsibilities for managing projects. Whilst under the old regulations clients just had to take reasonable steps to ensure that any arrangements made for the management of the project were suitable, the client must now get all their ducks in a row. The client must make suitable arrangements for managing the project, making sure that all necessary facilities are provided and that work can be carried out without risk to health and safety. They are also responsible for ensuring that the principal designer and contractor are doing their jobs properly.
The onus for notifying the Executive of a notifiable project has been shifted to the client, relieving the principal designer of inheriting that particular burden from the CDM Co-ordinator.
Other changes under the new Regulations
The threshold for when a project becomes notifiable has increased. A project is now notifiable when the project is scheduled to “last longer than 30 working days and have more than 20 workers working simultaneously at any point” or where it “exceeds 500 person days”.
The new regulations will also apply to all clients, whereas previously the regulations only applied to clients where work was being carried out by them or for them in the course of a business.
The core standards of the legislation remain largely unchanged in the new regulations but there are some key differences.
It is clear that clients will need to run a tighter ship as a result of the new regulations. They can no longer rely on the CDM Co-ordinator to make all the arrangements for the management of the project. Given the greater responsibility placed on clients, they should ensure that they are aware of the relevant provisions and how they apply.
The provision for the application of the regulations to all projects, and not only those which are carried out in the course of business, may extend the ambit of the regulations.
Clearly, while maintaining the core standards of the previous legislation, the new regulations will have a significant impact on how construction projects are managed by clients, and their relationship with the other two main players: the principal designer and the principal contractor.