Safety through design input by project CDM-C needs to be clarified
HSE will shortly be publishing a consultative document concerning changes to the CDM Regulations 2007 (CDM 2007).
The appointment, by project clients, of a Co-ordinator (CDM-C) has been one of the more controversial aspects of CDM 2007 with many commentators believing that the CDM-C role has added little value to project health and safety standards and outcomes.
Confusion over design H&S input
Dissatisfaction with CDM-C role is in part a result of confusion over what the role involves regarding ‘safety through design’.
CDM 2007 requires (Regulation 20) the co-ordinator to take “all reasonable steps to ensure that designers comply with their duties”, namely, to avoid foreseeable risk by eliminating hazards and reducing risk.
The Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) provides guidance on what this means. However, the guidance is contradictory.
Para 108 states that CDM co-ordinators DO NOT have to “approve or check designs, although they have to be satisfied that the design process addresses the need to eliminate hazards and control risks”
However, elsewhere the ACOP implies that CDM-C design checking and approval IS required. Relevant ACOP clauses state:
- “checking that …… the different design elements work together without causing danger.
- “design reviews during which health and safety issues are addressed alongside practicality and cost in a wider review of the design’s buildability, maintainability and usability”
- “ensure that the designers have identified a safe method for construction for unusual or complex designs”
- “CDM-C’s who identify important health and safety issues that have not been addressed in the design must draw them to the attention of the designer.”
It is therefore unsurprising that some CDM-C’s have taken a minimalist approach limited to checking that designers have risk avoidance processes in place.
By contrast other CDM-C’s have been far more involved in the substantive design safety judgments made by design teams.
What can be expected from CDM 2015?
HSE has stated that any revision to CDM 2007 will be based on the Government policy of ‘copying out’ the EU Directive on which CDM 2007 is based in order to avoid ‘gold plating’.
The Directive requires the client to appoint a Coordinator for safety and health matters during the “project preparation stage” and that as regards design issues this Coordinator shall “coordinate implementation of the provisions of Article 4”
Article 4 requires the Client to take account of the general principles of prevention concerning safety and health during the various stages of designing and preparing the project.
The requirement under the Directive therefore appears to be limited to coordinating implementation of the client duty regarding design with no mention of checking the designer risk avoidance processes or substantive design outcomes!
Clear guidance required
The upcoming CDM 2015 consultative document needs to make clear the degree of involvement in ‘safety through design’ required of Coordinators at the design and preparation stage.
Any guidance subsequently released must avoid the contradictory advice in existing guidance on CDM 2007.