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    THE ABC&D OF CDM-COORDINATOR DUTIES

    Time for CDM Coordinators to go on the front foot in 2010?

     

    In this article Philip Poynter considers the role of the CDM Coordinator and argues there is a need for greater focus on what the law requires and a more positive and confident approach from those accepting a CDM-C appointment.

    Doubt over role and value of CDM-C

    I recently attended an Association for Project Safety (APS) meeting and listened to the views of a designer/engineer on the CDM Regulations.

    The APS is “a body for those who operate in, or have an interest in, health and safety risk management in the construction industry”.

    Many organisations and individuals providing CDM Coordination services are APS members

    This was not just any designer. He had been involved in a project on which a fatal accident had occurred and was unsuccessfully prosecuted for alleged failures under CDM 94.

    The case for prosecution was halted on the first day of the trial and the designer acquitted of any wrongdoing. Despite his innocence the whole affair had an enormous impact on his life.

    He was sceptical about the value the CDM Regulations and the role of the Coordinator. I was surprised at the muted reaction.

    Lack of confidence

    I detect a lack of confidence among CDM-C’s regarding their role.

    Are the requirements of CDM 2007 all too complicated and vague for everyone?

    Has “Russian Doll Regulation’ (a simple hard core of law surrounded by layers of ACOP/Guidance) caused doubt and confusion rather than certainty?

    Do clients, designers and contractors lack understanding of the CDM-C duties and the legal/practical consequences for all if they are not carried out effectively?

    So, what are the essential elements of the CDM-C role?

    What the law requires

    I suggest we go back to basics and look at what the law requires. Greater clarity on what is required should help boost CDM-C confidence, whatever level of apathy or hostility is exibited by clients, designers and contractors.

     The CDM-C must act on four fronts. The ABC&D of CDM Coordination. These are

    • Advice and Assistance
    • Background Information
    • Coordination and Cooperation
    • Designer Compliance

    Advice and Assistance: give suitable and sufficient advice and assistance to the client on undertaking the measures the client needs to take to comply with CDM 2007.

     This includes advising and assisting the client on the: suitability of his management arrangements for the project (and those of others) and the maintenance and review of these throughout the project; assessment of designer and contractor competence and; adequacy of the principal contractor construction phase plan and welfare facilities.

    These are demanding duties on any project.

    Background Information: take all reasonable steps to identify and collect the ‘pre-construction information’ and promptly provide the relevant information in a convenient form to designers and contractors.

    This is the easy bit. HSE has provided a list of topics that should be considered.

    Take ‘reasonable steps’ to obtain the information and fill in the blanks.

    Coordination and Cooperation: ensure that suitable arrangements are made and implemented for the co-ordination of health and safety measures during planning and preparation for the construction phase.

    This includes facilitating: co-operation and co-ordination between persons concerned in the project and application of the general principles of prevention.

    Liaison with the principal contractor regarding file contents, safety plan and ongoing design is also required.

    CDM-C’s must ask themselves what arrangements have we ‘made and implemented’ to achieve this coordination? Be confident that the answer is a clear and convincing one.

    And last but certainly not least.

    Designer Compliance: take all ‘reasonable steps to ensure that designers comply with their duties’ e.g. to avoid foreseeable risk in preparing a design. This is an onerous obligation. 

    However, the duty does not require the CDMC to go over the design with a fine toothcomb and repeat the process used by the designer to eliminate hazards and reduce risk.

    However, when asked what ‘reasonable steps’ were taken, the CDMC must have a coherent answer that describes the process followed.

    The CDM-C should question designers on, and be satisfied with how, they intend to discharge their risk avoidance duty on the project. 

    Conclusion

    This ADC&D approach provides a short reminder of what is required of those who accept an appointment as CDM Coordinator.

    The role is wide-ranging, demanding and one of substance. Clients, designers and CDM-C’s ignore this fact at their peril.

    The CDM-C provides the client with an ‘insurance policy’. Clients who fail to fund or facilitate the effective discharge of CDM-C duties will find themselves ‘uninsured’ when disaster occurs.   

    The best way to carry out the role effectively is to take decisive action on ABC&D and develop confident, accurate and persuasive explanations as to the processes in place to meet each obligation.

    This approach should also minimise the chances of coming under the scrutiny of the courts.

    ………… END …………

    PS  The CDM-C should not forget to inform HSE as soon as practicable after appointment!

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