The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994 (SI 1994/3140) – known generally as ‘the CDM Regulations’ – came into full effect on 1 January 1996. They implement EC Directive 92/57/EEC which set out minimum safety and health requirements at temporary or mobile construction sites. The regulations brought major changes to construction health and safety, explicitly bringing clients and designers into the process for the first time. The aim is to promote effective health and safety measures by placing certain duties on the client, designers and contractors involved in a project, and introducing a new role of planning supervisor. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) administers and enforces the regulations. The following are the main requirements.
• The client has to appoint a planning supervisor and name the principal contractor and be reasonably satisfied that they, and also the designers, have adequate resources and competence to carry out their duties (Regulations 6, 8 and 9). He must provide the planning supervisor with any relevant information (Regulation 11) and ensure that information in any health and safety file delivered to him (see below) is kept available for inspection by persons needing to comply therewith (Regulation 12). The planning supervisor and principal contractor can be the same person, or the client himself can act as either or both (Regulation 6(6)).
• The planning supervisor has to notify the HSE of the intended project (Regulation 7) and ensure that a health and safety plan is prepared in respect of the project (Regulation 15(1)). He has to ensure that the designers pay adequate regard to health and safety matters (Regulation 14(a)(b)) and be in a position to give advice on the competence and adequacy of resources of designers and contractors (Regulation 14(c)). He ensures that a health and safety file is prepared for each structure (Regulation 14(d)), which includes relevant safety information and is kept up to date with any changes during construction (Regulation 14(e)). He must ensure that the file is delivered to the client on completion of the construction (Regulation 14(f)).
• The designers have to ensure that any design ‘includes among the design considerations adequate regard to the need (i) to avoid foreseeable risks’ to health and safety; (ii) to ‘combat at source (such) risks’; (iii) to ‘give priority to measures which will protect all persons carrying out construction work or cleaning work at any time and all persons who may be affected by the work of such persons’ (Regulation 13(2)(a)). Designers must also ensure that the design includes ‘adequate information about any aspect of the project or structure or materials (including articles or substances) which might affect the health or safety of any person’ (Regulation 13(2)(b)). The foregoing requirements are to be met ‘to the extent that it is reasonable to expect the designer to address them at the time the design is prepared and to the extent that it is otherwise reasonably practicable to do so’ (Regulation 13(3)).
• The principal contractor is required to comply with the health and safety plan and augment its provisions as necessary during construction (Regulations 15(4) and 16(1)(e)). As principal contractor he has to co-ordinate the activities of all other contractors and sub-contractors on the site and see that they comply with the health and safety plan (Regulations 16 and 17).
He must permit employees and self-employed persons to discuss and advise him on health or safety matters (Regulation 18). All contractors must comply with rules in the health and safety plan, and clients and self-employed persons must be informed of the contents of the plan or such part of it as is relevant to their work (Regulation 19).
Notifiable projects to which all the regulations apply are those where construction ‘will be longer than 30 days or will involve more than 500 person days of construction work’ (Regulation 2(4)). For ‘domestic’ work – except demolition or housing estate developments (Regulations 3(8) and 3(3)) – and work involving less than five construction workers at any one time (Regulation 3(2)),
the design requirements (Regulation 13) only apply. ‘Domestic’ work is defined as work not carried out in connection with a client’s trade, business or other undertaking (Regulation 2).
The initial intent of these regulations was to promote better safety standards in construction by integrating safety into project management. The production of a safety plan, specifically required to identify risks, should assist in this. But the designer’s responsibilities for safety are difficult to assess, as it may be problematic to decide how far designs must be modified to reduce hazards if this involves substantial extra cost. Also both the designers and the planning supervisor have responsibility for ensuring that any design pays ‘adequate regard’ to the need for health and safety measures (Regulations 13(2) and 14(a)), so the question can arise as to who decides what measures are adequate.