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New CDM Regulations 2015: Managing Health and Safety

Industry Developments

New CDM Regulations 2015: Managing Health and Safety

The new Construction Design and Management (CDM) Regulations were applied on April 6th 2015 and replace the previous 2007 regulations.  These new regulations have a simple goal - to ensure the health and safety of all people involved in the construction and maintenance of building structures. The new regulations also aim to facilitate the easy delivery of good design. In order to achieve these objectives, CDM 2015 requires that a new 'principal designer' be appointed instead of a CDM Coordinator.

CDM Regulations 2015 Changes - Roles and Responsibilities 

Principal Designer Takes over the CDM Coordinator

The new CDM regulations have abolished the post of the CDM Coordinator. The duties of the CDM coordinator will now be played by the client, the principal contractor, and the principal designer. During pre-construction, the principal designer will be mainly responsible for coordinating health and safety. 

The 'principal designer' is more likely to be one of the designers working on the project. This person should be a designer who has been involved in the project from the conception stage. The architect can be the principal designer, and thus responsible for ensuring the safety and health of workers during pre-construction. 

During the construction stage, the principal contractor will be responsible for health and safety. The principal designer will continue to be closely involved in the project and will have to cooperate with the designers, principal contractor, and the client during the construction. It seems that the new regulations expect the principal designer to offer more design oriented safety and health input from start to finish. 

Client Responsibilities 

The new law requires construction clients to ensure safety and health on their projects. They have to:

- assemble a team of competent professionals 

- ensure that enough time and resources are allotted at each stage of the construction to appropriately deal with safety and health issues

- ensure that they have proper mechanisms in place to communicate with the project team 

- provide adequate welfare facilities 

A client can delegate these responsibilities to a contractor; however, they have to ensure that the contractor has the skills, expertise, and training required to carry out these responsibilities. If the client appoints the wrong party, the responsibility can fall on the client.

In addition, they will have to appoint the right personnel to perform the function of the principal designer. If the project is going to extend beyond the 6th of October, the client will have to appoint a 'principal designer' and transfer the responsibilities of the CDM coordinator. 

Duties of designers 

Here are some of the duties that the designers have to fulfil:

1. Before commencing work on a project, a designer has to ensure that the client is fully aware of their duties.

2. When modifying an existing design, the designer has to consider the basic principles of prevention to eliminate any risks to the safety and health of any person involved in the project. This also includes the ongoing maintenance or cleaning of a structure.

3. If the risks cannot be eliminated, the designer has to take the measures required to reduce the risks and inform the principal designer about these risks. The designer also has to ensure that appropriate information is furnished in the safety and health file. 

4. A designer is also required to assist the client, contractors, and other designers in the discharge of their duties under the new regulations. 

Maintenance of Health and Safety Standards 

Regulations 2015 provide pre-construction information and ensure that adequate health and safety requirements are maintained on the site of construction, throughout the project. The new regulations also require the principal contractor to devise a construction phase safety and health plan. In addition to this, the principal designer has to produce a health and safety file. The client can delegate many of these duties, but they will still have to retain some responsibilities. Any breach of duty may attract a punishment with up to 2 years of imprisonment and/or fine. 

The new CDM Regulations 2015 make clients responsible for the conduct of the people they appoint to oversee safety and health. 

If the health and safety management procedures undertaken by the consultants, their contractors, or clients fall short, they may face legal action. 


The purpose of the new CDM regulations is to simplify safety and health requirements. It makes clients responsible for understanding the shift in liability. Clients can't remain ignorant of the new regulations. If they fail to meet the expected standards, they may be prevented from continuing the project until they prove that they have modified the way they work.