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Be aware of changes to the CDM regulations

For those of you like me who have been around the construction industry for a while, you are probably experiencing a sense of déjà vu as once again we await the publication of draft Construction (Design and Management) Regulations.

The Health and Safety Executive plans to publish the regulations in early January 2015 and for them to go live on 6 April following its consultation in the summer.

But what was wrong with CDM 2007 that we have had to go to all this trouble, time and cost to produce new regulations?

HSE’s research into the 2007 regulations drew some clear conclusions:

  • The industry views the regulations as still being too bureaucratic, having a heavy burdensome approach to the competence issue, particularly for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and;
  • The pre-construction phase, in particular the “client adviser” role of the CDM co-ordinators, is not working as well as many had hoped.

Although there are good CDM co-ordinators operating in industry, the majority view of the industry is that they are not adding value. Some readers, particularly CDM co-ordinators, may take exception to this comment, but this view is difficult to overlook. In addition to the evaluation research, the Coalition Government’s “Red Tape Challenge” also put CDM in the spotlight – and not in a positive way.

Changes proposed to CDM 2015

  • To simplify the structure of the regulations
  • Replace the Approved Code of Practice with targeted guidance
  • Introduce the new role of “principal designer” in place of the CDM-C
  • Introduce the need to demonstrate specific skills and training rather than “competence”, the industry’s understanding of which is varied to say the least.


At the HSE board meeting in August it was decided that there will be a short, targeted approved code of practice that will reference both the industry guidance and HSE-produced “legal” series guidance.

CITB has been asked to take a central role with the production of the industry guidance, which will be written from an industry perspective to help the many SME companies who would, perhaps, be working under the requirements of the CDM regulations for the first time.

CITB, being viewed as an honest broker by both the HSE and industry, has been asked to co-ordinate and lead a steering group of industry health and safety experts to write guidance for the five new duty holders and an additional piece of guidance specifically for workers, who are not duty holders under CDM but are an important group in their own right.

A working group chair has been appointed for each duty holder group, client, principal designer, principal contractor, designer and contractor. Each can call on a network of experts from their sector to assist them in the drafting of guidance.

As the guidance is intended for the SMEs within the industry, CITB’s commitment is to make this guidance freely available via our own website as a pdf download. Care is also being taken to ensure that the guides are viewable on smartphones and tablets.

During the consultation period there was much discussion about dropping the word “competence”. As discussed in HSE Research document RR877, A Commentary on Routes to Competence in the Construction Sector, there are a number of problems in the way the industry has understood competence.

There is a strong suggestion that it would be helpful to move back to the building blocks of what makes a competent person. What this would mean in practice would be a focus on the skills that have been honed through experience and how they are supported by knowledge of the subject.

All of this has to be underpinned by solid training and support, and this is where CITB comes into its own.

CITB will, of course, keep the industry updated about the new CDM regulations and how they will affect thousands of people in SMEs across England, Scotland and Wales.      

Kevin Fear is head of environment and health and safety strategy at CITB.

Readers' comments (2)

  • It is an appalling misunderstanding if the CITB feels that some small SMEs may be working under the CDM Regulations for the first time.

    If they are carrying out construction, they have always been under the CDM Regulations, both 94 and 2007.

    What have they been doing for the last 20 years.

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  • Thanks Jim, you highlight a really important point that was difficult to bring out in a short article.

    While all construction work is currently subject to the CDM Regs ’07, most SMEs working for domestic clients or on non-notifiable projects either do not realise that CDM does apply or term this work “non-CDM”.

    The fact that sole traders, who only work for the domestic market, will now be required by law to plan and co-ordinate their work will be news to tens of thousands of companies. In practice, they will be “working” under CDM for the first time.

    Kevin Fear

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