The Construction Design and Management (CDM) Regulations first appeared in 1995 and were hailed as a ‘step-change’ in construction safety as they included safety responsibilities for designers and clients. Prior to these regulations, it was generally thought that site safety was the sole responsibility of the contractor.
The CDM Regulations combined with the Management Regulations are at the centre of construction safety.
The CDM Regulations were revised in 2007 and again in 2015. For such important regulations to be changed twice in not insignificant ways is unusual and unsettling for an industry that has in general embraced the regulations; many would argue that modern safety culture within the industry owes much to their introduction. The CDM Regulations combined with the Management Regulations are at the centre of construction safety.
The regulations at the heart of construction safety
The Management Regulations were first introduced as part of the “Six Pack” in 1992. The 1999 revision was more of an evolution than wholesale change; apart from the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER), the rest of the six pack remain as published in 1992.
In comparison, CDM first appeared in 1995, we are now on version 3, and the changes have been considerable.
Talking to a selection of the industry there was concern over the additional changes. The latest revision can only attribute inclusion of the domestic client on the EU Directive.
We've had Planning Supervisors, CDM-Coordinators (CDM-C) and now admittedly with a changed role, Principal Designers (PD).
The removal of the CDM Coordinator appears to be an attempt to reduce costs, however it's not a cost-free service if done correctly. The questions circulated by the HSE in their own review procedure indicates that money saving was expected.
Many clients and developers interviewed were comforted by the fact that the CDM-C and previously the Planning Supervisor were independent of the Lead Designer; they saw them as a team member that kept their eye on H&S when budgetary pressures might look to reduce costs through value engineering.
Many clients are preferring to appoint an independent PD and adding on some client responsibilities, which almost makes the appointment the equivalent of the CDM-C. Additionally, smaller design practices are declining the opportunity to undertake the PD role due to a combination of competence (or lack of) and insurance.
A retrograde step?
The implied reduction in the competence requirements is surely a retrograde step which downplays the role of the safety professional. It's a total about-turn of the 2005 Regulations when competence of both the individual and the organisation was highlighted.
The ICE created the H&S Register to encourage engineers to achieve and prove to their peers their safety competence, which was mentioned in the 2005 regulations.
The impact of the inclusion of domestic clients is difficult to judge accurately, as prior to the new regulations, many larger domestic schemes were carried out under the regulations. Similarly, talking to small to medium enterprises, there is little awareness of the regulations in smaller organisations.
It appears that the 2015 Regulations are being interpreted and implemented by the industry to the best of their ability. As always, such critical changes have provided many opportunities for the training industry.
Read ICE's review of the CDM Regulations 2015
ICE Training offers a range of training courses detailing the differences between CDM2007 and CDM2015, as well as courses suitable for those coming new to the regulations. View CDM2015 training.