In the property industry, CDM is widely used as shorthand for the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations which govern health, safety and welfare on all construction projects.
Last updated in 2015, the CDM regulations set out the statutory responsibilities of all parties involved in construction, covering new builds, renovations and restitutions, conversions and appendages. The rules apply equally to commercial and to domestic projects.
The overarching aim of CDM 2015 is to improve the management of health and safety in all aspects of construction. So as well as setting out detailed responsibilities and obligations relating to all parties, the legal side is accompanied by in-depth practical guidance published by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) aimed at helping industry professionals achieve compliance.
The guidance covers every stage of the construction process, from initial conception through to completion. The intention is to put health and safety and workforce welfare front and centre of planning and project management. It sets out exactly who the duty holders are in each project, and what they each must do to comply with the law.
The key principles of the guidance include:
- Ensuring everyone takes responsibility for health and safety, from the people commissioning the work to the sub-contractors carrying out specific tasks;
- Prioritising appropriate risk assessments and risk management procedures at every stage;
- Encouraging active cooperation and communication between parties on all health and safety matters;
- Making sure everyone involved has the right level of skills to carry out their roles safely and effectively.
The detailed HSE guidance sets out protocols and procedures to follow to ensure compliance with the CDM regulations. The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) condenses these into a handy three-step process which provides a useful guide for ensuring a project is in keeping with the main principles of the law.
The steps are as follows:
1. Regulations relating to all projects
All building projects must be able to demonstrate the following in order to remain compliant with CDM:
- That everyone working on the project has the correct level of skills, knowledge, experience and training to carry out their role effectively and safely;
- That an appropriate level of supervision is provided, including having steps in place to ensure communication and instruction procedures are fit for purpose;
- That the project is following a written construction phase plan.
2. Regulations relating to projects with multiple contractors
In addition to the above, on any projects where more than one contractor is involved or where work is delegated to various subcontractors, a principal designer and principal contractor must be nominated to take the lead. One of their duties is to maintain a working health and safety file throughout the duration of the project.
3. Regulations relating to the size and length of the project
Finally, the principals leading a project are required to notify the HSE if it meets any of the following conditions:
- The project is anticipated to last longer than 30 days;
- More than 20 workers will be simultaneously working on construction at any one time;
- The total amount of labour involved exceeds 500 worker days.
Alternatively, the HSE has a useful FAQ section on its website, and the CITB also offers a CDM Wizard app to download which takes you through the various steps towards compliance.