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CDM 2015: SEEING THE WOOD FOR THE TREES

End of year reflections on CDM 2015, health, safety and harm

Greetings to all our readers at the end of 2017 – the first full year in which the CDM Regulations 2015 were in operation.

It is difficult to assess how well CDM 2015 has been received and implemented by the UK construction industry. HSE has not published the results of any assessment whilst surveys by others are limited and (including our own) now a little dated.

Anecdotal evidence suggests a ‘mixed reception’ for CDM 2015. Some bemoan abolition of the CDM-C whilst others have accepted the change to Principal Designer and are trying their best to make the new function work effectively.

We have noticed polarised views expressed by those who find the changes confusing and others who see the new CDM 2015 framework as logical and sensible.

There is a danger that we may become bogged down in debating the finer points of CDM 2015 rather than focusing on implementing the bigger picture of what the legislation is seeking to achieve.

Are we missing the CDM 2015 wood for the trees?

Health and Safety v Harm Minimisation

IS ZERO HARM THE AIM?

What are we trying to achieve? The health safety, so far as is reasonably practicable, of those working on or affected by construction projects? Legally correct but what does it mean? Zero harm? Total safety?

We prefer a description on the lines that “we seek to minimise the harm caused by construction work” rather than securing health and safety. The latter words are now inextricably linked with derogatory term “Elf and Safety” as a shorthand for bureaucracy and a stifling aversion to any degree of risk.

The harm we seek to minimise comes from traumatic events e.g. falls from height and more long term causes e.g. dust, vibration or work related stress.

Both sources can cause harm to ‘health’. Should we therefore just talk about Health At Work programmes rather than Health and Safety at Work?

CDM 2015 made simple

To mark the end of 2017 we therefore offer our short description of how CDM 2015 is designed to work without once mentioning ‘health and safety’! Here we go……..

 

Hazards and Harm

Construction work involves many hazards which present danger to workers and others because of the significant harm that can be caused.

These hazards include falling from height, the collapse of structures, lifting heavy components, electricity, moving vehicles and the use of dangerous and hazardous substances.

Design and Management

There are opportunities to minimise the harm caused by such hazards during both the project pre-construction and construction phases. These two phases overlap.

The project client appoints a Principal Designer (PD) and a Principal Contractor (PC) to oversee the actions taken to minimise harm during each phase of the project. The client and PD must provide pre-construction information to help everyone in this task.

The PD and PC control and coordinate the work of designers and contractors during the pre-construction and construction phases respectively. All designers and contractors communicate, cooperate and coordinate work with each other.

Pre-Construction Phase Action

The preventive measures taken during pre-construction can be summarised as Hazard Avoidance and Risk Minimisation (H.A.R.M). The PD and other designers work together to eliminate hazards, reduce risk or facilitate the control of the risk throughout the design process.

Designers provide information to those constructing the design regarding the remaining significant hazards.

Construction Phase Action 

The preventive measures taken during the CP can be summarised as Hazard Analysis and Risk Management (H.A.R.M). The PC and other contractors work together to analyse the hazards inherent in the design and manage the remaining risk by reducing the chance of harm occurring and the extent of any harm caused.

The Principal Contractor prepares a CP Plan which sets out how the project and significant risks will be managed and monitored plus details of the welfare arrangements.

Skills, knowledge, training and experience

Workers carrying out the construction work are trained and have the necessary skills, knowledge, and experience to work in a way which minimises harm.

Future construction work

During the project the PD prepares a file of information for the client which will assist designers and contractors in minimising harm during future construction work on the structure.”

There we are ….. CDM 2015 made simple without once mentioning ‘health and safety’! If we focus on delivering this simple description of CDM 2015 in 2018 the harm caused by construction work will be kept to the minimum.

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