CPD Seminars part one

CPD Seminars > CPD Seminars part one

An outline of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994, abbreviated to the CDM Regulations, came into force on the 31st March 1995.

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Regulations, which are also applicable to the Republic of Ireland, are referred to in the GPDA's 'Healthier Building with gypsum Products' publication No. 1.

The CDM Regulations apply to construction projects and everyone associated with them. The regulations place new duties on clients, designers and contractors and have created a new duty holder – the planning supervisor. All these duty holders have a role to ensure that health and safety is taken into account and managed effectively throughout all stages of a construction project – from conception, design and planning through to the execution of works on site and subsequent maintenance and repair.

Poor management is a prime cause of the unacceptable accident record of the construction industry.

The most important publication available which provides advice on how to comply with the law is the Code of Practice which has been approved by the Health and Safety Commission and which has a special legal status.

All of the 24 individual Regulations are reproduced in the Code and most of them are provided with guidance on how to comply with the relevant Regulation.

If duty holders are prosecuted for breach of health and safety law, and it is proved that they have not followed the relevant provisions of the Code, a Court will find them at fault, unless they can show that they have complied with the law in some other way.

Several other publications are available which provide guidance on how to comply with the CDM Regulations; these include 'A Guide to Managing Health and Safety in Construction'. This publication explains how CDM affects each phase of the construction project and the importance of teamwork in achieving health and safety success.

Detailed guidance for those involved in the design process is given in the publication 'Designing for Health and Safety in Construction.'

The subject of the CDM Regulations and how designers can help to avoid or reduce health and safety risks to construction and maintenance workers at the design stage of a project will be discussed in the second seminar.

The leaflet entitled 'CDM Regulations – How the Regulations Affect You' summarises how CDM affects the duty holders and provides information on where further guidance can be obtained.

Other Health and Safety Executive Publications are available and these include the HSE information sheets Nos 39, 40 and 41 which give guidance on the duties of the client, the planning supervisor and the designer, respectively.

The CDM Regulations are needed because the construction industry has a poor health and safety record.

The industry is bedevilled with unacceptably high rates of death, injury and ill health associated with all types of projects ranging from new works right through to subsequent maintenance, repair, refurbishment and eventual demolition.

In the past, the responsibility for health and safety matters rested largely with the main contractor. The CDM Regulations now place new duties on clients, designers and contractors and, as we said earlier, have created a new duty holder – the planning supervisor.

For the first time, clear duties are imposed on everyone in the construction process. This may require many organisations to rethink their approach to health and safety, including training and education in the procedures to be taken to comply with the Regulations.

Five key parties have specific duties – and these can be firms or individuals (the information is given in the HSE leaflet 'CDM Regulations – How the Regulations Affect you) – the client; the designer; the planning supervisor; the principal contractor; and contractors and the self-employed.

Duty holders should ensure that they understand what they and others need to do under the CDM Regulations and discharge their responsibilities accordingly. By working together through teamwork and collaboration with other duty holders, all parties can improve health, safety and welfare standards on construction sites and for subsequent work.

Appendix 6 'Requirements of the CDM Regulations at the main stages of a construction project', as given in the publication 'A Guide to Managing Health and Safety in Construction', provides an excellent summary of where the requirements apply to the duty holders at the different stages of a project.

The CDM regulations apply to most building, civil engineering and engineering construction work, including:

  • New-build construction
  • Alteration, maintenance and renovation of a structure
  • Site clearance
  • Demolition and dismantling of a structure
  • Temporary works

The CDM Regulations will generally apply to construction work which is notifiable ie the construction work is expected to last more that 30 working days or work of shorter duration but which is expected to involve more that 500 person days of construction work.


It is the planning supervisor's responsibility to ensure that the relevant local Health and Safety Executive area office is notified of the project. The HSE has to be notified in writing.

The flow diagram which is give on page 6 of the HSE publication 'A Guide to Managing Health and Safety in Construction' helps us to check if a project needs to be notified to the HSE.

The Regulations also apply to non-notifiable work which involves five people or more on site at any one time, and to all demolition or dismantling work, regardless of the length of time of the number of workers. The exceptions are when the local authority is responsible for enforcing health and safety or where demolition work is carried out for a domestic client.

Let's have a look at some examples of when the CDM regulations do not apply to construction work:-

The CDM Regulations do not apply to construction work when a local authority is the enforcing authority for health and safety purposes. This means that the construction work is not notificable and applies to minor internal construction work in occupied premises. Appendix 3 of the Code of Practice provides details.

CDM will not apply to construction work which is carried out for a domestic client, so long as their residence is not used in connection with a business. However, the project will need to be notified to the HSE. The situation may be different if a domestic client has entered into an arrangement with a developer.

The Regulations do not apply to construction work if the work will last for 30 days or less and involves 4 or less people on site at any one time.

When the CDM Regulations do not apply, all other relevant health and safety legislation will still apply to employers and the self-employed carrying out construction work.

If you have any query as to whether the CDM Regulations apply to any construction work don't hesitate to contact your nearest HSE office.

From the designer's point of view it's very important to be aware that the CDM Regulations apply to all design work carried out for construction – no matter how long the site work lasts and no matter how many workers are involved on site. We'll be discussing the designer's duties later.

Something which I haven't referred to so far is that the Regulations have also introduced two very important new documents: the 'Health and Safety Plan' and the 'Health and Safety File'.

The Health and Safety Plan serves two different purposes:-

There is the pre-tender stage health and safety plan and the planning supervisor has to ensure that this is prepared to include health and safety information obtained from the client and designers.

Guidance on what should go in a pre-tender health and safety plan is given in the HSE Information Sheet No. 42.

For most projects the planning supervisor will be an organisation eg architectural practice. Except for the smaller projects it is unlikely that the planning supervisor will be an individual.

There is also the health and safety plan for the construction phase which the principal contractor is required to develop before work starts on the site. It is the foundation on which health and safety management of construction work is based.

The health and safety plan will need to be added to; it will need to be reviewed and updated as the project develops; as further design work is completed; as information for the sub-contractors starting work becomes available; and to take account of unforeseen circumstances or as variations to planned circumstances arise, etc.

Very helpful guidance on what should go in the health and safety plan for the construction phase is given in HSE Information Sheet No 43.

The health and safety file is a record of information which tells those who will be responsible for structure in future of the risks that have to be managed during maintenance, repair, renovation or demolition. The planning supervisor has to ensure that it is prepared as the project progresses. The file is given to the client by the planning supervisor when the project is complete.

Guidance on preparing the health and safety file and what the contents could be are given in HSE Information Sheet No 44.

Finally, in order to help contractors play their part in the successful management of health and safety during construction work don't forget that – regardless of whoever is visiting the site – wearing of safety helmets and protective footwear should be standard procedures.