CDM 2015: 3 years on

After some 20+ years and 3 iterations, doubts had persisted about certain aspects of the Construction Design & Management (CDM) regulations, which were causing inefficiencies and a general lack of Health & Safety enhancement.

The CDM regulations were introduced with the purpose of improving health and safety by helping the workforce to:

  • sensibly plan the work so the risks involved are managed from start to finish;
  • have the right people for the right job at the right time;
  • cooperate and coordinate their work with others;
  • have the right information about the risks and how they are being managed;
  • communicate this information effectively to those who need to know; and,
  • consult and engage with workers about the risks and how they are being managed”

Despite these aims however, the rationale for ICE to undertake this study was that there appeared to be a mixed approach to how much of the 2015 Regulations were being implemented.

Many parts of industry reportedly still missed the CDM - Coordinator role and expected the Principal Designers to deliver in a similar fashion. Furthermore, Designers were reportedly having concerns with the conflict in their role when acting as both ‘Designer’ and ‘Principal Designer’. Both ‘Principal Designers’ and ‘Designers’ also spoke of their uncertainty over the health and safety competency expectations/requirement, and expressed concerns with Regulation 9 (Duties of designers).

The study reports on the current practical acceptance and effectiveness of the regulations. It highlights areas of continuing concern and generally reflect how industry is coping and working with the revised Regulations.

The main conclusions of this study were that:

  • the construction industry has generally accepted CDM2015 and has adapted / is adapting to implementing them;
  • the domestic client market is one area where compliance is far from universal with at the lower end of the market little or no compliance;
  • the Principal Designer role is becoming accepted and more architects and engineers are becoming willing to take on the role;
  • there is still a wish from some clients for an ‘independent safety expert’ and appointments of Principal Designers who are not the Lead Designer currently shows little sign of reducing;
  • alternatively, clients are appointing a safety professional to carry out what is normally called the Client CDM Advisor role. This role is not recognised by CDM2015 but is becoming common, particularly on large schemes, as an oversight role often including site inspections;
  • there is little evidence for a reduction in paperwork, with designers and contractors appearing to be being led by their legal departments;
  • 3 years on and there is still a learning curve within the industry with nuances of the wordings of CDM2015 becoming understood or questioned.

What our evaluation told us, was that there was a feeling within industry that the CDM Regulations weren’t broken, they didn’t need fixing. BUT the industry will always adapt to embrace new regulations but it costs money and time.

The key message from this research appeared to be “Enough changes, we need some stability” There was also a fondness for the independence of the old CDM - C role; that is being mirrored by the appointment of independent Principal Designers. Time will tell whether that persists.

Legislators need to take heed of these opinions and give the industry time to adapt and the new regulations bed in.

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