Key Points

  • All construction projects are subject to the health and safety requirements of these regulations, including repairs and maintenance. They will apply to the landlord of a residential property, where construction is being carried out.
  • There are obligations regarding the appointment of a principal designer and a principal contractor which apply where there is more than one contractor on site at the same time. For these purposes a sub-contractor also counts as a contractor.
  • Additionally, construction projects must be notified to the Health and Safety Executive if the construction phase will be longer than 30 days or if it involves more than 500 person days of construction work with more than 20 workers on site simultaneously.

Changes to the Regulations

The 2015 regulations incorporate the following changes:-

  • Strengthening the responsibilities of the client.
  • Replacement of the CDM co-ordinator by a principal designer for the planning managing monitoring and co-ordination of the pre-construction phase health and safety.
  • The principal designer and principal contractor are required to be appointed on all projects where there is more than one contractor working on the project, sub-contractors count as contractors. A requirement is introduced for the need for appropriate skill, knowledge and experience.

The Regulations

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM Regulations) are the current regulations with effect from 6th April 2015. They replace and update the earlier regulations. They give effect to an EC Directive. They are intended to ensure minimum safety and health requirements at temporary and mobile construction sites. The Regulations apply to what is termed "construction work".

Construction Work

  • "Construction work" is defined as the carrying out of any building, civil engineering or engineering construction work. It includes the construction, alteration, conversion, fitting out, commissioning, renovation, repair, upkeep, redecoration or other maintenance decommissioning demolition or dismantling of a structure. It includes cleaning involving the use of water or an abrasive at high pressure or the use of corrosive or toxic substances. It extends to the preparation of an intended structure including site clearance, exploration, investigation, excavation and the laying and installing of the foundations of the structure. It also includes the assembly of prefabricated elements to form a structure or the disassembly of prefabricated elements and the removal and dismantling of structures.
  • "Structure" is defined to include buildings and various other defined structures.

Client duties

The client must make suitable arrangements for managing the project. This includes allocating sufficient time and resources. For these purposes arrangements are suitable if you ensure that -

  • Construction work can be carried out, so far as is reasonably practical, without risk to the health and safety or any person affected by the project, and
  • The required facilities are provided.


A project must be notified to the Health & Safety Executive if the construction phase will be longer than 30 days with more than 20 workers simultaneously on site or if it involves more than 500 person days. The "construction phase" is defined as the period of time starting when the construction work on any project starts and ends when the construction work for the project is completed. For these purposes a project is defined as is the project which includes or is intended to include construction work. It includes planning development and management. Even where a project does not have to be notified there are requirements which apply as they apply to all projects.

Domestic property

"Domestic client" means a person who otherwise than in the course of business engages someone to carry out a project or does so himself. However, work carried out by or on behalf of a landlord would be subject to the full regulations and not the special rules applicable to domestic projects.

Client responsibilities

These requirements are important for landlords who commission works. The client must also ensure that the project team co-operate and that they are competent. The client must also make sure that welfare facilities are provided as appropriate including washing facilities, sanitary conveniences, drinking water, changing rooms and lockers and rest facilities. The client must see that sufficient resources are allocated and that adequate time is allowed. The client has to ensure that these arrangements are maintained and reviewed throughout the project. The client also has to ensure that designers and contractors are promptly provided with pre-construction information in the client's possession.

The client must also ensure that -

  • Before the construction phase begins, a construction phase plan is drawn up by the contractor if there is only one contractor, or by the principal contractor if there is more than one and
  • The principal designer prepares a health and safety file for the project which must be kept available for inspection.
  • The health and safety file must be passed on to anyone who requires the client's interest in the structure.

If there is more than one client in relation to a project they may agree in writing between themselves as to who is treated as the client.

Appointment of the principal designer and principal contractor

If there is more than one contractor (this includes sub-contractors) or if it is reasonably foreseeable that more than one contractor will be working on a project at any time the client must appoint in writing both-

  • A designer with control over the pre-construction phase known as the principal designer. This role supersedes the previous role of the CDM co-ordinator.
  • The principal contractor.

These appointments must be made as soon as is practicable before the construction phase begins. If the client fails to appoint a principal designer or principal contractor then by default the duties of the principal designer or principal contractor (as the case may be) fall on the client.

CDM Co-ordinators

The role of CDM co-ordinator is abolished. However, there are transitional provisions where immediately before 6th April 2015 there is a CDM Co-ordinator appointed for the project. In this case this appointment continues to have an effect until either a principal designer is appointed instead or the project comes to an end. However, the client must appoint a principal designer for the project before 6th October 2015 unless the project comes to an end on or after that date.

General health and safety duties

The principal designer, the principal contractor and any other designer or contractor must have the skills, knowledge and experience necessary to fulfil their roles. It is the client's responsibility to take reasonable steps to satisfy themselves that the designer or contractor fulfils these requirements.

Duty of Designers

The designer must not commence work unless satisfied that the client is aware of the designer's duties. The designer must take into account the general principles of prevention and also any pre-construction information to eliminate, so far as is reasonably practicable, a foreseeable risk to health and safety of any construction work.

Duties of the principal designer

During the pre-construction phase the principal designer must plan, manage and monitor this phase and co-ordinate matters relating to health and safety to ensure that, so far as is reasonably practicable, the project is carried out without risks to health and safety. The principal designer must assist the client in the provision of pre-constructed information and provide this to a designer and contractor. The principal designer must liaise with the principal contractor for the duration of the principal designer's appointment and share information relevant to planning management and monitoring the constructional phase, including co-ordinating health and safety during construction phase.

Principal contractor's duties in relation to health and safety

The principal contractor must plan, manage and monitor the construction phase and co-ordinate matters relating to health and safety during this phase to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that construction work is carried out without risk to health or safety. The principal contractor must make and maintain arrangements consult and engage with workers. During the pre-construction phase whilst setting up a site the principal contractor must draw up a proper construction phase plan or make arrangements for this to be drawn up. This must be set out with health and safety arrangements and site rules. The principal designer must assist the principal contractor in preparing this plan. During the project the principal designer must ensure that this plan is appropriately reviewed, updated and revised.

Health and Safety Duties of affecting Construction Sites

The CDM Regulations then spell out various duties relating to health and safety on construction sites themselves. These requirements apply to all construction sites; not just notifiable projects. These affect everyone engaged on site. These require the following:-

  1. Safe places of work including access
  2. Good order and site security
  3. Stability of structures
  4. Safe means of demolition/dismantling.
  5. Safe use of explosives
  6. Safety with regard to excavations
  7. Safety regarding coffer dams and caissons.
  8. Keepings reports of inspections.
  9. Safe energy distributions to installations.
  10. Steps to prevent drowning.
  11. Safe traffic routes.
  12. Safety regarding moving vehicles.
  13. Prevention of risk from fire, explosion, flooding.
  14. Appropriate emergency procedures are to be in place.
  15. Emergency routes and exits to be provided.
  16. Fire detection and fire fighting equipment to be provided with instructions as to its use.
  17. Provision of fresh air.
  18. Requirements regarding temperature and weather protection.
  19. Requirements as to lighting.

Minimum welfare facilities required in construction sites

CDM regulations lay down requirements for welfare facilities in relation to the required sanitary conveniences -

  • Washing facilities.
  • Drinking water.
  • Changing rooms and lockers.
  • Rest facilities.
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