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Last edited 25 Jun 2018
CDM 2015 principal 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 will came into force on 6 April 2015.
The 2015 CDM regulations include duties for:
- Clients. (see CDM 2015 client duties)
- Designers. (see CDM 2014 designer duties)
- Principal designers. (see CDM 2015 principal designer duties)
- Principal contractors.
- Contractors. (see CDM 2015 contractor duties)
- Workers. (see CDM 2015 worker duties)
The role of principal contractor is not a new one, but their responsibilities have changed slightly from the 2007 regulations.
Principal contractors are defined in the 2015 CDM Regulations as ‘…contractors appointed by the client to coordinate the construction phase of a project where it involves more than one contractor …They … must possess the skills, knowledge, and experience, and (if an organisation) the organisational capability necessary to carry out their role effectively given the scale and complexity of the project and the nature of the health and safety risks involved.‘
For projects involving more than one contractor, the client must appoint a principal contractor as soon as practicable, and before the start of the construction phase, so they have enough time to plan and manage the construction phase.
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. 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.
The role of principal contractor involves:
- Planning, managing, monitoring and coordinating the construction phase of a project.
- Consulting and engaging with workers.
- Liaising with the client and principal designer.
- Ensuring anyone they appoint has the necessary skills, knowledge, and experience and, where they are an organisation, the organisational capability to carry out the work in a way that secures health and safety.
- Coordinating the work of contractors.
- Ensuring that the contractors under their control cooperate with each other.
- Ensuring suitable site inductions are provided.
- Ensuring reasonable steps are taken to prevent unauthorised access.
- Ensuring that suitable welfare facilities are provided and maintained throughout the construction phase.
- Before the construction site is set up, preparing, reviewing and revising the construction phase plan for the project setting out health and safety arrangements and site rules.
- Ensuring that the construction phase plan is appropriately reviewed, updated and revised during the construction phase.
- Providing the principal designer with any information in the principal contractor’s possession relevant to the health and safety file.
- If the principal designer’s appointment finishes before the end of the project, the health and safety file must be passed to the principal contractor for the remainder of the project. The principal contractor must then take on the responsibility for reviewing, updating and revising it and passing it to the client when the project finishes.
Where a client is a domestic client, the principal contractor must also carry out the duties of the client under the regulations, unless there is only one contractor (in which case the contractor must carry out their duties), or there is a written agreement that the principal designer will fulfil those duties. See Client duties under CDM 2015 for more information.
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- 2007 CDM regulations.
- CDM 2007 principal contractor.
- CDM 2015.
- CDM 2015 client duties.
- CDM 2015 designer duties.
- CDM 2015 draft guidance.
- CDM 2015 contractor duties.
- CDM 2015 legal considerations.
- CDM 2015 principal designer duties.
- CDM 2015 worker duties.
- CDM for self-builders and domestic clients.
- CDM Principles of prevention.
- Design risk management.
- Domestic client.
- Work at height regulations.
- Types of contractor.
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