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REVIEW OF CDM REGULATIONS RESEARCH FINDINGS

Positive results for CDM 2007 despite bureaucracy, complexity and ambiguity

Following introduction of the CDM Regulations in 2007 HSE agreed to undertake external and internal research to determine the extent to which the regulations met the HSE objectives and the cost implications for the construction industry.

On Wednesday 13th July 2011 the Construction Industry Advisory Committee (CONIAC) will consider a paper summarising the main findings. The paper concludes there is “broad agreement” between the two pieces of research.  The main findings are reproduced verbatim below.

External evaluation main findings 

The methodology included a large-scale survey of some 350 duty holders across all dutyholder groups and sizes of business, face-to-face interviews with small clients and small contractors, key stakeholder interviews, influence network workshops, open forums and interviews with HSE Inspectors. The main findings were:

1. Respondents’ level of agreement to statements relating to HSE’s five objectives for CDM was far more positive for CDM 2007 than for CDM 1994. 

2. CDM 2007 has substantially met its objectives, but there are still concerns about how the principles underpinning the regulations are put into practice. In particular, more needs to be done to ensure that the industry does not generate unnecessary paperwork in its attempts to comply. This is a particular problem for stage 1 competence assessments.

3. The interpretation of the ACoP rather than the regulations themselves can cause problems: the ACoP was found to be unwieldy and difficult to interpret and apply in practice.

4. Respondents’ level of agreement with statements relating to construction design, management and site practices were significantly more positive in 2010 than they were in 2006.

5. Whilst there was a cost impact of CDM 2007, respondents rated the benefits as being higher than the costs.

6. Industry practice has a significant influence on how the construction industry implements CDM 2007.

CONIAC Working Group main findings

The CONIAC CDM Evaluation WG was established in November 2009 to provide a forum to collectively represent the views of the UK construction industry. It brought together a broad range of interests and worked collaboratively to provide a wide perspective on CDM 2007. The main findings of were:

1. CDM 2007 represents a significant improvement on CDM 1994, but the industry wants more guidance which better meets their needs to clarify not only their duties but the limits of those duties.

2. Competence emerges as a strong theme – there is still a great deal more to be done to address the shortcomings of multiple accreditation schemes with lack of mutual recognition. The confusion, cost and bureaucracy arising from multiple card schemes for individuals with different standards is of great concern, particularly to sub-contractors. There was a consensus that more needed to be done to explain to clients in particular the role of prequalification schemes, in particular on the practical competences of organisations and individuals.

3. Bureaucracy is still problematic and a primary source of dissatisfaction to the industry. For those who favour it, often as a way of transferring the risk of non-compliance to others, there is little within the existing CDM portfolio to clearly identify it as bad practice. This is an issue which polarises the industry, with some dutyholders having a clear vision of when documentation is needed, with others seemingly incapable of bearing down on what they see as an unstoppable flow of paperwork.

4. There is still more to be done to embed the co-ordination requirements of CDM and to ensure that these are delivered effectively. The WG made a number of recommendations to improve co-ordination through design, procurement and construction. In particular the WG acknowledged the benefits of integrated team working, but went on to acknowledge that there is not a single model for such working across the different industry sectors.

5. The role of designers in the influencing of health and safety outcomes has improved under CDM 2007 compared with CDM 1994. However, there is a worrying level of divergence of opinion within the design profession as to how they should discharge their duties and what the limits of those duties are.

6. There was broad consensus from the members of the working group on these matters. However, it is understandable that each of the dutyholder groups represented on the group would have views which were not necessarily shared by – or of particular relevance to – the others represented.

7. The WG did not feel that the case was supported for fundamental changes to CDM 2007 but that more needs to be done to spread understanding across industry generally (they reported that two thirds of occasional clients are unaware of CDM 2007, for example). This matches the main findings of the Frontline research and they made the case that improvements can be delivered by communication and clearer HSE and industry guidance. They felt that this would help to address industry misconceptions/misinterpretation and related costs associated with unnecessary bureaucracy.

Comment

We await the full report with interest. The findings above suggests we can expect little pressure for change to CDM 2007 other that by way of revisions to the ACOP / Guidance to produce greater clarity and simplicity. This will be further driven by the current Government Löfstedt review of health and safety legislation and the Red Tape Challenge.

More controversial developments may be prompted by Europe. The paper states that: “The European Commission is taking an active interest in how Members States have implemented this directive and there is a suggestion that the UK currently under-implements certain areas of the Directive.”  This relates to the duties of non-business (i.e.’domestic’) clients under CDM 2007. Watch this space….

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