New Health and Safety rules for construction projects

29 Jun 2015

The rules governing health and safety on all construction projects in Great Britain changed on 6 April 2015 with the enactment of The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (the “2015 Regulations”), which replaced and revoked The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 (the “2007 Regulations”).  The new 2015 Regulations have introduced a number of changes, and the principal ones are highlighted below.

The role of CDM Co-ordinator has been replaced by that of the Principal Designer.  This is probably the most significant change brought about by the 2015 Regulations.  It means that the responsibility for the co-ordination of the pre-construction phase must rest either with an existing member of the design team, or a consultant with sufficient design capability to perform the role.

Client duties have been strengthened.  As head of the supply chain, clients are deemed to be best placed to set standards throughout the lifetime of a project.  They have an ongoing responsibility to look after health and safety matters, and they must continue to monitor the Principal Designer and Principal Contractor (if appointed) to ensure they are complying with their relevant obligations throughout a project.  Unlike the 2007 Regulations, domestic clients are no longer exempt from notifying projects under the 2015 Regulations.  However, a  domestic  client can transfer its client duties to the Principal Designer and/or Principal Contractor under Regulation 7.

Notification requirements have been amended slightly so that notification is now only required if a project lasts for more than 500 person days, or for more than 30 days with more than 20 workers engaged on site simultaneously.

Whereas under the 2007 Regulations designers, contractors and workers only needed to be “competent”, under the 2015 Regulations all designers and contractors appointed to a project must now meet the higher standard of having the appropriate skills, knowledge and experience necessary to fulfil the role they are to undertake.

The 2015 Regulations place a greater emphasis on the key role of a designer in co-ordinating and disseminating information to allow safe construction.  Although transitional provisions are in place until 6 October 2015 to make an allowance for projects which began before 6 April, now is the time that a client, for the purposes of the 2015 Regulations, needs to be looking at current projects and appointments to prepare for the changes.  The client will need to be satisfied that the consultant taking on the role of Principal Designer  has professional indemnity insurance that covers them for undertaking this role.

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