CDM has changed: What’s your safety role in your project?

Croft Architecture CDM Principal Designer

Everyone has their part to play when it comes to health and safety, especially in construction. It’s an area that can’t be overlooked as every construction project involves potential dangers at any stage.

You may think that from a client’s perspective that you can sit back, relax and let the professionals carry out the necessary work. That’s what they’re trained and paid to do, right?

Wrong, just because you’re the client doesn’t make you obsolete from the process. Your involvement is crucial to your project. A lack of understanding and responsibility could potentially place yourself or others in serious danger and you could even face prosecution.

All industry professionals should be well aware of the Construction Design Management Regulations or CDM Regulations 2007 (If they’re not familiar, you should be extremely concerned!).The regulations were created to manage the health, safety and welfare for all building and construction projects, which include:

  • new build,
  • demolition,
  • refurbishment,
  • extensions,
  • conversions,
  • repair and maintenance.

CDM regulations place “legal duties” on virtually everyone involved with a project. The regulations ensure that a project has been correctly planned, prepared and organised to ensure that working conditions are healthy and safe for all, no matter the size of site or the type of project.

Who currently has “legal duties”?
  1. Clients
  2. CDM coordinators
  3. Designers
  4. Principal Contractors
  5. Contractors
  6. Workers and everyone

Don’t panic (not yet anyway) currently under the CDM regulations 2007 clients don’t have a substantial amount of responsibility within the realms of “duty bound” obligations. The proportion of duties lie with CDM coordinator and principal contractor, whom you as the client will appoint until the end of the construction phase.

However, be prepared, roles, responsibilities and duties are all about to change!

When is it happening?

As with any change it is anticipated that the modifications to CDM regulations that come into force on 6th April 2015 aim to benefit you, the client, and everyone involved with the construction of your project. The aim is to make every project safe to build, to use and to maintain.

But what is actually changing and what does it mean for you, the client?

What will change?


Principal Designer (PD)

To make the process more efficient inevitably roles and responsibilities need to change. From the 6th April all new projects will no longer use the services of a CDM coordinator. The CDM coordinators role will cease to exist and a new role will be created, the Principal Designer.

Don’t worry, you won’t be expected to change everything overnight. There will be a transitional period of 6 months where CDM coordinators will relinquish their responsibilities and duties allowing a smooth and safe transition for all ongoing projects. Clients must replace their CDM coordinator with a Principal Designer by 6th October 2015. For works starting after April 6th a Principal Designer must be as soon as possible.


Competence will be more rigorously assessed and will be split into skills, knowledge, training and experience. This will demonstrate to you, the client, that the PD and Contractors are capable of completing their role and responsibilities successfully and safely.

The Client

It is extremely important that as a client you are aware of the changes taking place. The new CDM Regulations 2015 recognise that ultimately it’s the client’s project and you know what you want to achieve. The client is responsible for direction and standards throughout.

As the client, you should familiarise yourself with the 5 new key roles that have their own responsibilities to ensure the Health and Safety of a project.

  1. The Client - Landlords, schools & retailers. Profit or non profitable businesses.

     Domestic Client is someone where “work is being carried out that is not for a business”.

  2. The Principal Designer (PD)

  3. The Principal Contractor (PC)

  4. The Contractor

  5. The Worker/ Everyone

What does this mean for me and my project?

The HSE have determined that the new regulations place responsibility of health and safety of a construction project on 3 main duty holders.

The client

Communicates the aims and aspirations for the project and provides a suitable brief for the PD and PCAs the client, you must ensure the project is set up to control risk for all involved with the construction of the project from start to finish. You must make suitable arrangements for managing the project, including:

  • Other duty holders are appointed
  • Sufficient time and resources are allocated.
  • Relevant information is prepared and provided to other duty holders
  • The PD and PC carry out their duties
  • Welfare facilities are provided.
  • Domestic Clients can choose to have a written agreement with their PD to fulfil all client duties.

The Principal Designer

Is not only the architect or consulting engineer. The role is determined by anyone who specifies how and what must be achieved from the detail of the project. This could include quantity surveyors, building service engineers, temporary works engineers.The PD will manage health and safety pre-construction. The role extends into the construction phase where the PD will effectively liaise with the PC.

The Principal Contractor

Manages the construction phase of the project. They will liaise with the client and PD throughout the project, this will include the pre-construction phase too.

What are the benefits?

The HSE anticipate that the new 2015 regulations will streamline every stage of the process from procurement, to design and delivery and finally the construction of the project. Ultimately the aim is cut out bureaucracy to allow more focus on the importance of planning, management and clarity of a project.

In theory, the regulations will allow the client and the professionals to effectively collaborate, focusing on achieving the ultimate goal; which inevitably is a successful, safe project that is completed on time and to budget.

Client Risks

Don't sit with you had in the clouds and assume this won't affect you. It's fact the regulations are changing and it will affect you and everyone in the construction industry.

Health & Safety CDM 2015 Croft Architecture
Problems may easily occur if in an attempt to save money the client decides to take on the responsibility and duties of both the client and the PD or, if they choose not to appoint an architect as their PD. This could seriously jeopardise the project and also the health and safety of the people involved.

Chartered Architects are the natural fit for the role of PD being both capable professionals and designers. Good architects will fully know and understand the CDM regulations and how to they must be implemented to every stage of any project.

By clients not using the skills of professionals such as Architects, and taking on PD duties to save money will only mean that duties are not properly executed. It is a reckless approach to take on such responsibility without proper training and experience in the area. Inevitably people's health and safety will be at risk, and any accidents could end in prosecution.

If you have any questions regarding CDM Regulations 2015 in relation to a potential or ongoing project, why not give our team at Croft Architecture a call to find out how our Chartered Architects can help you.


Subscribe here!