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CDM REGULATIONS 2015: NEW DESIGNER DUTIES

Designers face tougher test under revised CDM Regulations

Abolition of the CDM Coordinator and introduction of the Principal Designer has received a great deal of attention as the most significant change set to be introduced by CDM 2015.

A further change which seems to have ‘slipped under the radar’ concerns those defined as ‘designers’ under the new regulations.

Who is a designer?

A designer under CDM 2015 will usually be a business rather than an individual.

The definition of ‘designer’ is very wide and the HSE Legal Guide states:

“Designers include architects, consulting engineers, quantity surveyors, interior designers, temporary work engineers, chartered surveyors, technicians or anyone who specifies or alters a design. They can include others if they carry out design work such as principal contractors, and specialist contractors e.g. an engineering contractor providing design, procurement and construction management services. Where commercial clients become actively involved in designing in relation to their project, they may also be considered to be designers.”

What are the designer duties?

Designers will face the following duties:

  • Check awareness of clients

The first duty is to be satisfied that the client is aware of the duties owed by the client under CDM 2015.

  • Eliminate foreseeable risk

The primary duty is that when preparing or modifying a design the designer must take into account the ‘general principles of prevention’ and any pre-construction information to eliminate foreseeable risks to the health or safety of any person carrying out or liable to be affected by construction work.

In addition, those maintaining or cleaning a structure or using a structure designed as a workplace must also be considered.

  • Reduce or control risk through design

If it is not possible to eliminate these risks, the designer must take steps to reduce or control the risks through the subsequent design process.

  • Provide information

Finally, the designer must provide information about the above risks to the CDM Principal Designer and ensure appropriate information is included in the health and safety file.

Designers must also take all reasonable steps to provide, with the design, sufficient information about the design, construction or maintenance of the structure, to adequately assist the client, other designers and contractors to comply with their duties under CDM 2015.

So… what is new under CDM 2015?

The primary responsibility of designers under CDM 2007 is to seek to avoid foreseeable risk during design.

This current duty is heavily qualified and can be “performed so far as is reasonably practicable, taking due account of other relevant design considerations.”

Under CDM 2015 the qualification “taking due account of other relevant design considerations” has been removed which has the effect of making the designer duty far more absolute and onerous.

It will be much easier for the regulator to allege a ‘material breach’ of statute thereby triggering a Prosecution or a Fee for Intervention invoice in respect of the designer.

What should designers do to comply?

All CDM 2015 designers should take positive steps to:

  • Review the way they identify and eliminate hazards during design;
  • Consider how the process and outcomes might be improved;
  • Check on the adequacy of information provided with designs; and
  • Be prepared to justify the above to the CDM 2015 project Principal Designer.
CDM 2015 Information and Templates

See CDM 2015 Survey Results for the findings of our CDM 2015 Five Minute Online Survey.

We have published a great deal of further information and templates designed to support Clients, Designers, Principal Designers/Contractors and Contractors in meeting their duties under CDM Regulations 2015.

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