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    THE ABC&D OF CLIENT CDM DUTIES

    CDM clients must wake up and smell the coffee in 2010

    Philip Poynter has argued for a return to basics in considering CDM 2007 duties using the ABC&D format to explain the essence of Coordinator Duties and Designers Duties.

    He now goes on to examine the role of the client through the ABC&D of Client Duties under CDM 2007. 

     

    Client must take control under CDM 2007

    A central aim of CDM 2007 was to place clients at the heart of construction project safety.

    Many perceptive and forward thinking clients have taken up the challenge and now proactively drive forward a positive project H&S culture and high quality safety management processes.

    However, such clients are still out numbered by clients big/small/public/private who have yet to wake up and smell the coffee. CDM 2007 provides a framework for managing human risks effectively and in the same way other aspects of a business are handled.

    There is also now no choice in the matter. The project client has a strict duty to check, maintain and review project management arrangements throughout the life of the project.

    This was a significant departure from the requirements under CDM 94, yet many clients do not fully understand what is required and the consequences of failing to act. 

    Financial, reputational and legal risk

    It is likely that 2010 will see the first sentencing of a company under the Corporate Manslaughter Act 2007 (CMCH Act). The case will involve a smaller contracting organisation.

    We can also expect during the next 2-3 years that Police and HSE will conclude investigations where larger client organisations are prosecuted under the CMCH Act with significant financial and reputational damage.

    In addition, over the same period there is likely to be an increasing number of client prosecutions under CDM 2007 as regulators increase enforcement of client duties and cases proceed through the judicial system.

    Finally, the Government is shortly due to respond to the recent Inquiry into Construction Fatalities. The Inquiry report called for additional legal duties on directors including those in client organisations. 

    So, what should clients, large and small, do to avoid these risks and meet their legal obligations?

    Once again, it is simple as ABC&D.

    ABC&D of Client duties

    Appointments and Arrangements: make the required statutory appointments and project management arrangements. 

    • appoint a project CDM-Coordinator (CDM-C) at a very early stage and subsequently appoint a Principal Contractor (PC);
    • check your arrangements for managing the project and those of all others and;
    • maintain and review those management arrangements throughout the project.

    Remember, without other appointments the project client is the default CDM-C and PC with the commensurate CDM duties.

    Background Information: provide the defined pre-construction information to the CDM-C and others, including details from any relevant existing health and safety file.

    Competence: implement procedures to check the CDM competence of all those engaged or appointed. Also, clients must coordinate with others whilst giving and seeking their cooperation to enable compliance with their duties.

    Deadlines: allow time for contractor planning and preparation and be satisifed about the project safety plan before work starts on site.

    • specify the minimum time before the construction phase, allowed to appointed contractors, to plan and prepare for the construction work and;
    • take steps to ensure the construction phase does not start until welfare facilities and a compliant construction phase plan are in place.

    Conclusions

    These are the clear legal requirements placed on constuction project clients. The good news is that clients must appoint a CDM-C whose duty it is to advise and assist the client on all these matters. 

    An authoritative and active CDM-C will add value to a project and provide the client with an ‘insurance policy’ against financial, reputational and legal risks.  

    Positive action on the ADC&D of client duties can produce the improved well being of construction workers; a better quality product; reduced costs and more timely delivery of the project.

    It will also have the advantage of keeping the client organisation and directors out of the Crown Court.

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