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HOW ‘REAL’ IS THE CDM 2015 PRINCIPAL DESIGNER?

Personal appointments may unwittingly expose individuals to liability

In April 2015 the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 introduced the client appointed Principal Designer (CDM-PD) to replace the Coordinator (CDM-C) role.

The new CDM-PD has oversight of action to avoid health and safety risk during the design and preparatory phase of a construction project. CDM 2015 Regulation 5 requires that the project client must:

“appoint in writing a designer with control over the pre-construction phase as principal designer”

The appointed CDM-PD must plan, manage and monitor the pre-construction phase and coordinate matters relating to health and safety during the pre-construction phase so that the project is carried out without risks to health or safety. These are new and onerous duties.

The CDM-PD must be a ‘designer’ and is required to possess the necessary skills, knowledge, experience to discharge the CDM-PD responsibilities. Where the CDM-PD is an organisation the regulations state that the PD must also possess the necessary organisational capabilities.

So who IS the Principal Designer?

The regulations allow that the CDM-PD can be a ‘real’ person or a corporate body. The identity of the project CDM-PD can be found in either or both of the following documents:

  • Written Appointment – the client must appoint the CDM-PD in writing. This written appointment will show who has been appointed with the associated legal responsibilities and potential exposure to HSE enforcement; and
  • Project Notification – in addition to the written appointment the CDM-PD will be named in the project notification sent to HSE regarding notifiable projects.

The skills, knowledge, experience and organisational capability (SKEC) required of the CDM-PD do not need to reside in one ‘real’ person or one corporate body. Both types of CDM-PD can bring in any additional SKEC required to discharge the duties on a particular project.

Liability of individuals

The above issues have real practical importance.

It is vital that there clarity regarding the identity of the CDM-PD appointment because the function comes with demanding duties and potential liabilities. In our experience some individuals erroneously believe they are appointed as a person when it is in fact a corporate appointment, and vice-versa

Individuals (‘real’ people) who accept appointment as CDM-PD must be aware that they are personally responsible for delivery of the CDM-PD responsibilities and potentially liable to HSE enforcement as an individual, including legal proceedings, in the event of non-compliance.

‘Real’ people should therefore think carefully before accepting appointment as CDM-PD. Caveat emptor!

 

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