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    hseinspectors1HSE provide greater clarity on ‘CDM Advisers’ and Principal Designers

    A briefing document prepared for HSE Inspectors and others by the HSE Construction Sector CDM Unit has been published on the Association for Project Safety website.

    The HSE Q and A (reproduced below) will be helpful to Clients and Principal Designers (PD) considering engaging “CDM Advisers” to assist in meeting their duties under the CDM Regulations 2015.

    Questions concerning CDM Advisers

    The document suggests that in the long term HSE believes that the appointed PD organisation should be capable of undertaking the PD role unaided for most projects and that Clients should also only need advisers for larger or more complex projects.

    The briefing indicates that in the short term some Clients and PDs may require assistance in meeting their duties.

    Q1. Are ‘CDM Advisers’ required by CDM 2015?

    A. No. CDM 2015 makes no mention of a role or dutyholder called a CDM Adviser. A CDM Adviser is not required by law.

    CDM 2015 requires the client to appoint a Principal Designer (PD) and Principal Contractor (PC) where there is, or is likely to be, more than one contractor working on a project.

    As with any appointment a client must ensure that the appointee has the requisite skills, knowledge and experience (SKE) to undertake the role of PD or PC.

    In the majority of cases, PDs are likely to already have most of the required SKEs, and are capable of developing them, probably without realising it.

    Q2. What if a prospective Principal Designer does not possess all the requisite skills, knowledge and experience (SKE) to undertake health and safety coordination?

    A. Usually an organisation will be appointed as PD. Only in the smallest projects is the PD likely to be an individual. As the PD function is new and will usually be taken on by a design organisation or project management team, it is anticipated that in the short term the PD may find that they lack some SKE.

    There is nothing in CDM 2015 which prevents a PD from bringing in or buying in the services of specialists in a particular field to ensure their organisation is equipped with all the necessary SKE to undertake the role, and satisfy the client of their organisational capability.

    Former CDM-Cs and other health and safety professionals may be in a position to offer these services.

    The law does not allow the PD to delegate their responsibilities elsewhere. HSE expects that the adviser’s role is to provide a temporary mechanism of support for the PD while the necessary skills and knowledge are developed.

    Q3. What should a construction client do if a prospective PD appointee intends to buy in health & safety coordination advice?

    A. Clients have responsibilities to appoint those in the role of PD who have the requisite SKE. Clients should therefore assure themselves of the reasons and arguments put forward by the PD for the inclusion of any brought or bought in advisory or support role, before accepting the arrangements and if necessary the client should review their selection of the PD.

    Q4. What if a construction client wishes to get CDM advice?

    A. Some clients are seeking to appoint advisers to support them in the discharge of their client duties. This is not required by CDM 2015.

    Any external advisor cannot assume the legal duties, responsibilities and/or functions of the client. The law does not allow the client to delegate their responsibilities elsewhere.

    Q5. Is independent health and safety advice prohibited under CDM 2015?

    A. No. One of the main drivers for the change in CDM, is to remove the cost and bureaucracy of dutyholders ‘contracting out’ their responsibilities to a third party and to ensure that those who actually control and lead construction projects are accountable for doing so – in short those who create the risk are responsible for managing it.

    As has always been the case, some dutyholders may feel that they do require independent health and safety advice to supplement their own SKE. Specialist advice is not prohibited by CDM 2015. Indeed the procurement of specialist expertise to support the delivery of quality construction projects may be both necessary and effective, particularly in the short term while further expertise is developed within organisations.

    Messages for dutyholders

    1. The PD and PC have the responsibility to control and coordinate health and safety in the pre-construction and construction phases and this cannot be contracted out to a third party.
    2. CDM advisers are not required under CDM 2015. CDM 2015 does not require a client to have an advisor – it requires the client to appoint those with the right skills, knowledge and experience for the PD and PC coordination functions.
    3. The design professions should be providing designers with the skills to discharge the PD role for the future, to be able to deliver the health and safety outcomes of CDM 2015.
    4. For many projects the steps required by the client and PD to comply with their legal requirements will only require straightforward actions. In most cases, those involved in small projects are not expected to do more than they currently are.”


    Questions concerning Principal Designers

    The HSE Construction Infonet e-Bulletin  July 2015 provides answers to some frequently asked questions concerning the role of the Principal Designer (PD). The questions and answers are:

    Q1. Who can carry out the role of the principal designer (PD)?

    A. The PD must be a designer – an architect, consulting engineer or quantity surveyor, or anyone who specifies and alters designs as part of their work. They can also be clients, contractors and tradespeople if they carry out design work or arrange for or instruct persons under their control to do so. They must have the right mix of skills, knowledge and experience (SKE) or organisational capability to carry out all the functions and responsibilities assigned to them in Regulations 11 and 12 and have control over the pre-construction phase.

    Commonly, the PD is likely to be:

    – for larger projects – a design practice or a technical department of a principal contractor e.g. a principal contractor doing design and build;

    – for smaller projects – a self-employed architect/technician, small design practice, a project management company, a client’s internal estates management team, or even a specialist tradesperson such as an electrician where they lead on the design function;

    so long as they meet the criteria of;

    i. being a designer;

    ii. having the relevant SKE or organisational capability, and;

    iii. being in control of the pre-construction phase.

    Q2. Does CDM 2015 require the principal designer to be a member of the project design team?

    A. No. The PD must be appointed by the client as soon as it is established that more than one contractor is or is likely to be working on the project to plan, manage, monitor and control the design stages.

    If the client gets it right and appoints the PD early at the concept stage, then the appointment should commonly take place before the project design team has been fully identified or assembled. The PD may provide their own design team, appoint a team or manage and control any team appointed by others.

    Whatever the model, which provides maximum flexibility for the client, – the PD must be able to prove to the client that they have the SKE or organisational capability to fulfil all the functions – proportionate to the nature, size, complexity and risk profile of the project. Once in place, the PD should be in control of the design team so that they, and the design team, can carry out their roles effectively.

    Q3. Can a client carry out the role of the principal designer?

    A. Yes. If a client fails to, or decides not to appoint a PD the law provides that the PD role is automatically assigned to the client.

    Many clients will choose to take on the PD role themselves but irrespective of whether by choice or otherwise, the client must have the SKE or organisational capability to fulfil all the PD functions and responsibilities effectively.”

    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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