Last edited 15 Apr 2015

CDM 2015 contractor duties

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (the ‘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:

The duties of contractors have changed slightly from the 2007 regulations.

Contractors are defined in the guidance to the 2015 CDM Regulations as ‘…those who do the actual construction work and can be either an individual or a company’ that is, ‘…anyone who directly employs or engages construction workers or manages construction is a contractor. An individual, a sole trader, a self-employed worker, or a business that carries out, manages or controls construction work as part of their business can be a contractor. This also includes companies that use their own workforce to do construction work on their own premises. The duties on contractors apply whether the workers under their control are employees, self-employed or agency workers.’

On projects where there is more than one contractor, the client must appoint a principal contractor to plan, manage, monitor and coordinate the construction phase of the project.

The duties of a contractor under the regulations include:

  • Planning, managing and monitoring construction work under their control so that it is carried out without risks to health and safety, taking into account the risks to all those who may be affected, such as members of the public and those carrying out the construction work.
  • Cooperating with other dutyholders.
  • For projects involving more than one contractor, complying with directions given to them by the principal designer or principal contractor.
  • Complying with the construction phase plan.
  • Ensuring subcontractors and designers they appoint have the skills, knowledge and experience and, where relevant, organisational capability to carry out the work for which they are being appointed.
  • Making enquiries to ensure the individuals they appoint have the necessary skills, knowledge, training and experience to carry out works in a way that secures health and safety for anyone working on the site; or that they are in the process of obtaining them.
  • Establishing whether training is necessary for any worker.
  • Ensuring that appropriate supervision is provided.
  • Providing employees and workers under their control with the information and instructions they need to carry out their work without risk to health and safety. This must include a site induction, information about emergency procedures and information about relevant hazards.
  • Not beginning work on site unless reasonable steps have been taken to prevent unauthorised access to the site.
  • Providing welfare facilities. On projects involving more than one contractor, this will involve consultation with the principal contractor who has a similar duty.
  • Not carrying out any construction work unless they are satisfied that the client is aware of their duties under the regulations.

If the client fails to appoint a principal contractor, the client must fulfil the duties of the principal contractor. However, if a domestic client fails to make an appointment, the contractor in control of the construction phase of the project is the principal contractor. This gives them a number of additional duties, including preparing a construction phase plan. See CDM 2015 principal contractor for more information.

A domestic client is someone who has construction work done on their own home, or the home of a family member, which is not done in connection with a business.

Where a client is a domestic client, the principal contractor must carry out the duties of the client under the regulations, however, where there is only one contractor, this means the contractor must carry out those duties (unless there is a written agreement that the principal designer will fulfil them). See Client duties under CDM 2015.

Where contractors are involved in design work, including for temporary works, they also have duties as designers.

Specific requirements are set out in relation to:

  • Safe places of construction work.
  • Good order and site security.
  • Stability of structures.
  • Demolition or dismantling.
  • Explosives.
  • Excavations.
  • Cofferdams and caissons.
  • Reports of inspections.
  • Energy distribution installations.
  • Prevention of drowning.
  • Traffic routes.
  • Vehicles.
  • Prevention of risk from fire, flooding or asphyxiation.
  • Emergency procedures.
  • Emergency routes and exits.
  • Fire detection and fire-fighting.
  • Fresh air.
  • Temperature and weather protection.
  • Enforcement in respect of fire.

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