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Building Safety Act brings sharper focus on CDM15 duty-holders

By Steve Coppin and Paul Bussey

Whatever your role in procurement, design and construction, your need for a good understanding of Construction Design and Management Regulations (2015) and building safety has never been so important. The regulations were introduced to protect from harm everyone involved in or affected by a construction project, and those who occupy the building, and at their heart are six core objectives. 

These are:

  • Sensibly plan the work so all risks are identified, assessed and managed from start to finish
  • Make absolutely sure that the right individuals are appointed to the right  roles, and that they are carrying them out safely
  • Ensure co-ordination and co-operation is central to the carrying out of tasks, ensuring that people have the correct competences 
  • Provide the necessary information about the risks and how they are managed
  • Clearly communicate the information to all those who need to hear and act upon it
  • Consult and engage with workers about the risks they face on site and how they should be managed

This is all very sensible stuff. Construction sites and buildings, when not managed well, can be hazardous places. Priority number one has to be the health and safety of people involved, and by that we mean those in the local community occupying the building when changed or completed, as well as workers involved on the project.

This year, however, the focus on the CDM15 principles has sharpened with the passing of the Building Safety Act 2022. The Act will cover all buildings with Building Regulations requirements, with special emphasis on ‘higher risk buildings’ of a residential nature with two dwellings or more of over 18 meters in height or seven storeys including flats, student accommodation, hospitals and care homes. 

It is also worth noting that the Fire Safety Act 2021 and the Fire Safety Regulations (England) 2022 come into force on 23 January 2023 and apply to all buildings, but with additional requirements for 11 metres or more in height and further additions for buildings 18 metres and over checked by the Fire and Rescue Authorities.

In effect, the new Building Safety legislation places greater responsibility on those involved in the design, construction and refurbishment of these buildings. Providing the Building Safety Regulator, overseen by the Health and Safety Executive, with greater powers to prosecute. If the new gateways and approvals are not respected the Regulator can now:

  • Put a halt to works starting on site
  • Stop work on site altogether
  • Prevent the completed building from being occupied
  • Issue hefty fines and prosecute with sentences including imprisonment

Introduced following the devastating tragedy of Grenfell Tower, these regulations are aligned with CDM. Whether you are the Client, the Principal Designer or the Principal Contractor under CDM regulations, you now must familiarise yourself with the regulations. In simple terms, the Building Safety Act imposes a new set of additional statutory duties on CDM duty-holders.

In our view, the new legislation is welcome. It is important because its strengthens the argument in construction for due diligence, from the design, through construction to the ongoing management of the building during its life cycle. The Act makes it very clear who is accountable and responsible, and this is important when so much work in construction is sub-contracted out and responsibility dissipated. 

It’s about ensuring the three Cs happen: co-operation, co-ordination and communication. We hope to see the Act bring more consistency to standards in construction. Since the Grenfell tragedy, lessons have not been learned throughout the whole industry. The Building Safety Act may just be one of the most important pieces of legislation passed by this Government during its current term in office, and we fully support it.

* CDM and Building Safety - An Evolving Picture sessions are running on 19-20 October 2022. Book here.

This IIRSM Training course is delivered by Steve Coppin FIIRSM FCIOB CFIOSH FAPS CIWFM MSc BEng, Strategic technical advisor, and Paul Bussey RIBA, FIFireE, FIIRSM, FASFP, IMaPS, practising architect and collaborator on fire and CDM with Royal Institute of British Architects, Health and Safety Executive and Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

Paul Bussey

Steve Coppin   

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