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Last edited 14 Dec 2020
Dutyholders in the construction industry
In construction, a duty holder is any person who is appointed to be responsible for a specific aspect of a building or project. Their responsibility is usually to maintain an overall standard and quality that is conducive to good health and safety and quality of work. The duty holder therefore has a duty to their employers, their colleagues and ultimately the building users and passers-by.
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 must also make sure that:
- Relevant information is prepared and provided to other dutyholders;
- The principal designer and principal contractor carry out their duties, and
- Welfare facilities are provided.
These are designers appointed by the client on projects involving more than one contractor. They can be an organisation or an individual with sufficient knowledge, experience and ability to carry out the role. They must:
- Identifying, eliminating or controlling foreseeable risks;
- Ensuring designers carry out their duties, and
- Prepare and provide relevant information to other dutyholders.
These are organisations or individuals who, as part of a business, prepare or modify designs for a building, product or system relating to construction work. When preparing or modifying designs, they must eliminate, reduce or control foreseeable risks that may arise during:
- Liaising with the client and principal designer;
- Preparing the construction phase plan PDF, and
- Organising cooperation between contractors and coordinating their work.
Also, they must ensure:
- Suitable site inductions are provided;
- Reasonable steps are taken to prevent unauthorised access;
- Workers are consulted and engaged in securing their health and safety, and
- Welfare facilities are provided.
These are contractors who carry out the actual construction work, and can be an individual or a company. They must plan, manage and monitor construction work under their control so it is carried out without risks to health and safety.
For projects involving more than one contractor, they must coordinate their activities with others in the project team – in particular, comply with directions given to them by the principal designer or principal contractor.
- Be consulted about matters which affect their health, safety and welfare;
- Take care of their own health and safety, and of others who might be affected by their actions;
- Report anything they see which is likely to endanger either their own or others’ health and safety, and
- Cooperate with their employer, fellow workers, contractors and other dutyholders.
CDM 15 also has an extra category of dutyholder, that of ‘domestic clients’. Although within the scope of CDM 2015, their client duties are transferred to the contractor or the principal contractor, depending on whether it is a single or multiple contractor project. CDM 2015 adds that in any case, the domestic client can instead choose to have a written agreement with the principal designer to carry out the client duties.
 Other dutyholders
- The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 requires that the responsible person (the person having control of the building, or a degree of control) takes reasonable steps to reduce the risk from fire and makes sure people can safely escape if there is a fire.
- There is a duty of care to ensure that another party does not suffer unreasonable harm or loss can as a result of contractual obligations and/or the tort of negligence.
- A duty of good faith may arise in international law.
- The Localism Act 2011 placed a legal ‘duty to cooperate’ on local planning authorities.
- The Building Safety Bill will introduce a number of dutyholders when it comes into force.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- 2007 CDM regulations.
- Construction phase plan.
- CDM 2015 draft guidance.
- CDM 2015 client duties.
- CDM 2015 contractor duties.
- CDM 2015 designer duties.
- CDM 2015 legal considerations.
- CDM 2015 principal contractor duties.
- CDM 2015 principal designer duties.
- CDM 2015 worker duties.
- CDM co-ordinator.
- CDM for self-builders and domestic clients.
- CDM Principles of prevention.
- Domestic client.
- What approvals are needed before construction begins.
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