Clarity is essential on power, responsibility, coordination and delivery
By 6th October 2015 on all GB construction projects (both commercial and domestic) there will be an organisation or person with statutory responsibilities as the project Principal Designer (PD) under the CDM Regulations 2015.
Failure to discharge these PD duties might lead to legal proceedings involving both the project client and the PD and/or costs imposed under the HSE Fee for Intervention scheme. It is therefore vital that those with PD responsibilities have a clear understanding of what is required.
Below we identify 7 Key Actions which appointed or prospective PD’s are advised to take.
1. Knowledge and Understanding
The first step is to read and understand the Regulations, HSE and Industry Guidance. This suggestion is not as self-evident as it may seem.
Many commentators express views on the CDM Regulations 2015 (including in these pages!) but what really counts is what the law states supplemented by the official HSE guidance.
Listen to the practical advice of others AFTER you have secured a thorough knowledge and understanding of the law etc.
2. Control, Power and Authority
The PD is appointed in writing by the client to have control over the project pre-construction phase (PCP). Control implies that the PD has some ‘power’ or ‘authority’ to ‘direct’ or ‘instruct’ other members of the project team. However, the CDM Regulations 2015 do not provide explicit powers to the PD.
The PD authority comes from the client who makes the PD appointment. It is critical that, prior to appointment, the PD agrees with the client how PD control will be exercised during the PCP and the boundaries of that authority.
This issue of control should be covered in the PD proposal to the client outlining the scope of the PD role and how it will be fulfilled including an overview of PD resources, skills, knowledge and experience.
Any control ‘problems’ should be resolved directly with the designers although the PD will be will need raise any unresolved concerns with the client e.g. a lack of co-operation by designers.
3. Responsibility for Risk Avoidance by Design
The PD is required to plan, manage and monitor the pre-construction phase and coordinate matters relating to health and safety during that time.
In so doing, the PD must identify and eliminate or control, so far as is reasonably practicable, foreseeable risks to the health or safety of any person. This is achieved by ensuring that all designers comply with THEIR duties.
The PD must therefore establish from the outset an understanding by all project designers that responsibility for ‘safe’ design rests firmly with those designers and that the PD function is to provide assurance to the client that designers are discharging their duties.
4. Coordinating Health & Safety Matters
The PD role is focused on coordinating the work of others in the project team to ensure that significant and foreseeable risks are managed throughout the design process.
Be sure that designs are coordinated between the different designers to identify any potential impacts on health and safety during the full project lifecycle.
Everyone involved in working on the PCP must cooperate with each other. The PD must establish that effective communication is occurring and information shared within the project team e.g. holding meetings with others in the design team and progress meetings with the client and PC.
5. Planning Pre-Construction Phase (PCP) Actions
Planning is the first part of the core CDM 2015 trilogy of PD actions namely to Plan, Manage and Monitor the PCP.The PD should set out their strategic plan for H&S during the PCP and share with the project client, design team and others.
The plan should influence how the risks to health and safety are managed and incorporated into the wider management of project.
6. Managing Risk Avoidance by Designers
The PD must make clear how the PCP will be managed and set out what meetings will be convened and communications to and from project designers.
Designers should be brought together as early as possible in the project, and on a regular basis, to ensure everyone carries out their duties. This can be done as part of the normal design process.
The PD is expected to challenge designers on decisions and the process followed, including any assumptions they have made.
The focus must be on ensuring the design work contributes to delivery of positive health and safety outcomes and on where there is high risk to health and safety, including changes made to the original design. Decide on control measures to be adopted and exercise judgement in considering how to manage the risks.
The PD should receive from others information about significant risks that are unusual, not obvious, or difficult to manage, including details of the key assumptions and decisions they have made. The PD is expected to review the information provided but is not expected to review everything during design development.
7. Monitoring Progress
Finally, the PD should establish a system of monitoring checks to provide assurance that project H&S is being dealt with appropriately during the PCP.
Set out how key outcomes will be recorded in order to demonstrate that both designers and the PD are carrying out their duties diligently. Use monitoring data to assess performance and share with the client and project team.
Consider progress with the PD plan for the project at key stages and at conclusion of the project with lessons for the future. Provide the client and others with information on what has been achieved.
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.