Last edited 15 Jul 2016

CDM 2015 client duties

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM Regulations) are intended to ensure that health and safety issues are properly considered during a project's development so that the risk of harm to those who have to build, use and maintain structures is reduced. They were introduced in 1994 and revised in 2007. A further revision came into force on 6 April 2015.

The 2015 CDM regulations include duties for:

Clients are '…organisations or individuals for whom a construction project is carried out'. Domestic clients are '…people who have construction work carried out on their own home, or the home of a family member that is not done as part of a business, whether for profit or not.'

Domestic clients' duties are normally transferred to the contractor on a single contractor project or to the principal contractor on a project involving more than one contractor. Alternatively, domestic clients can choose to have a written agreement with the principal designer to carry out the client duties.

Commercial clients, are not necessarily experts in construction and so they are not required to take an active role in managing work. However, they are required to make suitable arrangements for managing the project so that health, safety and welfare is secured. It is suggested that clients could prepare a clear client's brief as a way of setting out these arrangements. Arrangements should focus on the needs of the particular project and should be proportionate to the size of, and risks arising from the work.

Very broadly, clients' duties include:

  • Ensuring other dutyholders are appointed, that is, designers (including a principal designer on projects involving more than one contractor) and contractors (including a principal contractor on projects involving more than one contractor)
  • Ensuring the roles, functions and responsibilities of the project team are clear.
  • Ensuring that the people and organisations they appoint have the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and (if an organisation) the organisational capability to manage health and safety risks.
  • Ensuring sufficient time and resources are allocated.
  • Ensuring effective mechanisms are in place for members of the project team to communicate and cooperate with each other and coordinate their activities.
  • Ensuring relevant information is prepared and provided to other dutyholders.
  • Ensuring the principal designer and principal contractor carry out their duties. This could be done by arranging project progress meetings or via written updates.
  • Ensuring welfare facilities are provided.
  • Maintaining and reviewing arrangements to ensure they remain relevant.

Where one is required, the client should appoint the principal designer as early as possible in the design process, if practicable at the concept stage when they will be able to help prepare pre-construction information. Pre-construction information is relevant information already in the client's possession (such as an existing health and safety file) or which it is reasonable to obtain for the designers and contractors. For projects involving more than one contractor, the client should expect the principal designer to help prepare pre-construction information and provide it to designers and contractors.

On projects involving more than one contractor the client must ensure that the principal designer prepares a health and safety file for their project. Its purpose is to ensure that, at the end of the project, the client has information about health and safety risks that anyone carrying out subsequent construction work will need to know.

Where one is required, the client should appoint the principal contractor early enough in the pre-construction phase to help the client meet their duty to ensure a construction phase plan is drawn up before the construction phase starts. The construction phase plan outlines the health and safety arrangements, site rules and specific measures concerning any work involving particular risks. For single-contractor projects, the contractor must ensure the construction phase plan is prepared.

If a client fails to appoint either the principal designer or principal contractor where they are required, then the client must carry out their duties.

The client has a duty to notify the relevant enforcing authority (generally the Health and Safety Executive) if construction work is scheduled to last longer than 30 working days and have more than 20 workers working simultaneously at any point in the project; or exceed 500 person days.

The client must submit the notice as soon as practicable before the construction phase begins, or arrange for someone else do this on their behalf. The client must ensure that an up-to-date copy of the notice is displayed in the construction site office so that it is accessible to anyone working on the site in a form that can be easily understood. The client can either do this themselves, or ask the principal contractor or contractor to do it.

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