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Uncertainty looms over CDM

NEWS - Prospect of no approved code of practice with regulations review brings fear of uncertainty and misinterpretation

THE CONSTRUCTION Confederation is demanding more stringent guidance from the Health and Safety Executive to prevent firms falling foul of the revised CDM regulations.

The organisation, which sits on the Coniac industry working party to help shape the new rules, is worried the HSE will not produce an approved code of practice (ACoP) to clarify firms' responsibilities under them.

Andy Sneddon, the confederation's health and safety director, said: 'Small businesses like to have a benchmark to work by and the approved code of practice gives them this ? it has a special legal status and you know that if you follow it you will be working within the rules.' Current CDM regulations are accompanied by an ACoP and guidance. But Mr Sneddon said that only guidance is planned with the revised regulations, despite respondents to the HSE's recent CDM consultation voting three to one in favour of a detailed code of practice.

Coniac fears that the reluctance to produce an ACoP comes from pressure on the HSE from the Government and the Health and Safety Commission to reduce regulatory burdens on business.

Mr Sneddon has written to health and safety commissioners this week to press the need for a code of practice on CDM.

He said: 'I wholeheartedly reject the simplistic association of ACoPs with over-regulation.

'The necessarily broad and ambitious scope of the CDM regulations will always leave significant opportunity for uncertainty and spurious interpretation.

'Experience tells us that in the absence of a strong steer from the regulator, this has and will lead to excessive bureaucracy at the cost of effective implementation.'

The HSE said no final decision had been taken on whether to produce a code of practice with the reviewed regulations.

A spokeswoman said: 'All the information from the consultation needs to be analysed. Once that has been completed we will be able to judge what the general view is. It is too early to say at the moment.' The new CDM regs are due to come into force at the end of next year.

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