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The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM) 2015

The new construction regulations came into force on the 6th April this year. The requirements of these regulations should be in the minds of most contractors and building companies working in the middle to large scale commercial sector.The notification requirements now really only relate to project size as the regulations apply to all construction projects however large or small, and the triggers for appointing duty holders are different.However there are several aspects to these regulations which will not be fully appreciated by the vast number of smaller contractors working for commercial clients and on people’s homes. Welcome to the world of domestic clients and their supply chains.

Firstly the broadening of the definition to construction to include temporary structures and all types of fixed services including telecommunications and computer cabling and secondly the application of the regulations to the domestic sector with default statutory roles. There is a misconception that these regulations only apply to “big” construction projects and not to small domestic jobs. Just one contractor, any type of construction work is enough. Add one more trade contractor and technically a Principal Designer and a Principal Contractor is required.

The launch of these regulations has been poorly communicated and you have to ask what insurers and trade associations are doing to make their customers and members aware? I cannot help but feel that the chickens will only come home to roost when there is an inspection by a regulator or an insurance claim where paperwork is required and at that point the awful truth about the legal requirements will dawn.

We need to do much better in informing trades and small building companies but will additional paperwork lead to better safety outcomes – I am not sure? After all there was leniency on documentation for small companies / trades persons under the withdrawn Health and Safety Executive’s  ACoPs for Construction and for the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 but CDM 2015 requires some form of documentation (electronic or hardcopy)  even if it’s adequacy is defined as proportionate to the scale of project.

Proportionately and sensibly every construction job technically needs a written plan. Many can be extremely simple of course. Take a boiler installation in a domestic residence the gas Installer has to complete all the necessary paperwork as required by other regulations and the Gas Safe registration, the electrician will need to be competent and also issue documentation under further regulations - what does a Construction Phase Plan add to this? Dare I say it not a lot!

But you could argue that these regulations may oblige contractors to talk to each other to the client’s benefit as long as the contractors understand the “spirit” of what a Construction Phase Plan is trying to achieve.

 

Featured in Insight (September 2015)