New CDM Regulations - should the construction industry be worried?

New CDM Regulations - should the construction industry be worried?

As you may have read in our previous blog, on Monday 6 April 2015, the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 replaced the 2007 Regulations, the main set of regulations for managing the health, safety and welfare of construction projects. They were introduced in 1994 following publication of European Directive 92/57/EEC on minimum safety and health standards for temporary or mobile construction sites.

The new regulations set out duties for both Principal Designers and Designers, which will have implications for all architects, whether they are acting as the lead designer on a project or providing any element of design. The CDM Regulations impose criminal as well as civil liabilities on architects and it is imperative that the profession gets ready to work within this revised regulatory framework.

Under the new regulations, all projects must have workers with the right skills, knowledge, training and experience, contractors providing appropriate supervision, instruction and information and perhaps most importantly a written construction phase plan. In addition, projects where more than one contractor is involved must also have a principal designer and principal contractor appointed and a valid health and safety file.

If work is scheduled to last longer than 30 working days and to have more than 20 workers working simultaneously at any point, or if the project exceeds 500 person days the client must notify the project to HSE.

These changes in the regulations bring many of the smaller operational and maintenance-type projects within its scope for the first time, and place new obligations on clients and facilities managers throughout the UK.

However, the changes have not been met with great enthusiasm within the industry. The consensus of the market seems to be that those affected are struggling to see how the new regulations will achieve HSE’s stated aim of increased efficiency and reduced costs, considering the broadening of application of CDM 2015 to include FM/OPEX and minor works simply because they are undertaken by more than one contractor.

Graham Taylor, director at Turner & Townsend, calculated that for a small project under the current 30-day threshold, the new regulations could add 10-20 per cent to a project’s cost. Mr Taylor said: “It is evident that property owners carrying out maintenance work on their properties will face additional costs from designers and contractors for the added work that they now have to undertake, as well as new compliance risks as a result the introduction of new duties and the strict liabilities for the performance of these duty-holders.”

Commenting on the new guidelines, Paul Reeve, ECA Director of Business Services, said: “In many respects, the latest draft CDM 2015 Regulations and guidance track the outgoing 2007 version, but there are some significant additions, including extra duties on many contractors. These will come as a surprise to thousands of companies and two practical challenges will be to explain what’s new to both clients and smaller contractors, and then help them to comply.”

However, the HSE remain confident that the changes are for the better for the whole industry. HSE Chair Cameron Adam stated he sympathised with the concerns the industry seems to have: “I do not pretend that this will be a simple or straightforward process, however I am sure you will agree that the only way we can achieve this common understanding is by working together to create sector specific, industry supported guidance, which HSE will reflect in operational guidance for regulators. I therefore encourage JACE members and the wider industry to actively engage with HSE in creating this guidance. With your help we intend to set up some working groups to take this forward.”

He concluded: “I understand your concerns and the strength of feeling around the current position. I hope, however, that you are reassured that HSE remains committed to working with you and others to ensure a sensible and proportionate approach to health and safety regulation within your industry.”

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