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17 June2021

Simple and Visual CDM Duties

Dr. Khalid Bhutto Articles

In an effort to make the CDM Regulations easier to understand, we at Safescope we have prepared the following CDM Duties Guides (for Client, Designer, Principal Designer and Principal Contractor). These guides are simplified on page and visual versions to help understand different duties in an easy and visual manner. Any feedback or comments are most welcome.

Client CDM Duties
Designer CDM Duties
Principal Designer CDM Duties
Principal Contractor CDM Duties

2 June2021

A Simple Guide*to CDM 2015 Regulations

Dr. Khalid Bhutto Articles

The CDM Regulations are complex and difficult to understand, especially for those who are not involved with them on regular basis. We (Safescope) have put together the below guide to explain as simply as possible how the CDM Regulations apply on different construction projects.

Domestic Clients: domestic clients are people who have construction work carried out on their own home, or the home of a family member, which is not done as part of a business, whether for profit or not.

Non-domestic (Commercial) Clients: non-domestic (commercial) clients are people or organisations that have construction work carried out in connection with a business, whether for profit or not. For example, a client is having work carried out to their own home but is paying for the work through a company; this makes them a non-domestic client. One Contractor: means that only one contractor (including any sub-contractors) will be involved in construction work.

There are essentially four project scenarios:

Safescope CDM 2015 Simplied Guidance

1. Domestic Client Project Involving One Contractor

  • Client Duties: to be fulfilled by the contractor.
  • Designer Duties: to be fulfilled by the designers involved.
  • Principal Designer (PD) Duties: PD appointment is not required.
  • Principal Contractor (PC) Duties: PC appointment is not required.
  • Construction Phase Plan (CPP): to be prepared by the contractor.
  • Health and Safety File: Health and Safety File is not required.

2. Non-domestic Client Project Involving One Contractor

  • Client Duties: to be fulfilled by the client.
  • Designer Duties: to be fulfilled by the designers involved.
  • Principal Designer (PD) Duties: PD appointment is not required.
  • Principal Contractor (PC) Duties: PC appointment is not required.
  • Construction Phase Plan (CPP): to be prepared by the contractor.
  • Health and Safety File: Health and Safety File is not required.

3. Domestic Client Project Involving More than One Contractor

  • Client Duties: to be fulfilled by the appointed PC by default or by the PD by written agreement.
  • Designer Duties: to be fulfilled by the designers involved.
  • Principal Designer (PD) Duties: PD appointment is required. If the client fails to appoint a PD then the designer in control of the pre-construction phase of the project automatically becomes the PD.
  • Principal Contractor (PC) Duties: PC appointment is required. If the client fails to appoint a PC then the contractor in control of the con-struction phase of the project automatically becomes the PC.
  • Pre-construction Information: to be prepared by the PD.
  • Construction Phase Plan (CPP): to be prepared by the PC. Health and Safety File: to be prepared by the PD.

4. Non-domestic Client Project Involving More than One Contractor

  • Client Duties: to be fulfilled by the client
  • Designer Duties: to be fulfilled by the designers involved
  • Principal Designer (PD) Duties: PD appointment is required. If the client fails to appoint a
  • PD in writing then the client must fulfil the PD duties.
  • Principal Contractor (PC) Duties: PC appointment is required. If the client fails to appoint a
  • PC in writing then the clients must fulfil the PC duties.
  • Pre-construction Information: to be prepared by the PD.
  • Construction Phase Plan (CPP): to be prepared by the PC.
  • Health and Safety File: to be prepared by the PD.

*Please note that the above guide is only a simplified version produced to clarify the basic duties. However, project specific details will be required to provide accurate information and advice on application of the CDM Regulations.

2 June2021

Types of Asbestos Surveys

Dr. Khalid Bhutto Articles

There appears to be some misunderstanding on type of asbestos survey required for construction work. We will explain this as follows:

There are 2 main types of asbestos surveys; a management asbestos survey and a refurbishment and demolition (RAD) asbestos survey.

A management asbestos survey is required during the normal occupation and use of a commercial building or common areas of a residential building (i.e. staircases and corridors within a block of flats) to ensure continued management of any asbestos containing materials (ACM's) in-situ. The purpose of this survey is to locate, as far as reasonably practicable, the presence and extent of any suspect ACMs in the building which could be damaged or disturbed during normal occupancy, including foreseeable maintenance and installation, and to assess their condition. A management survey can be completed using a combination of sampling ACMs and presuming ACMs or just presuming.

A refurbishment and demolition (RAD) asbestos survey is necessary when the building, or part of it, is to be upgraded, refurbished or demolished. This type of survey is used to locate and describe, as far as reasonably practicable, all ACMs in the area where the refurbishment work will take place or in the whole building if demolition is planned. The survey will be fully intrusive and involve destructive inspection, as necessary, to gain access to all areas, including those that may be difficult to reach. A refurbishment and demolition survey may also be required in other circumstances, e.g. when more intrusive maintenance and repair work will be carried out or for plant removal or dismantling. In this type of survey, asbestos is identified so that it can be removed (rather than to 'manage' it), the survey does not normally assess the condition of the asbestos, other than to indicate areas of damage or where additional asbestos debris may be present. However, where the asbestos removal may not take place for some time, the ACMs' condition will need to be assessed and the materials managed.

In a nutshell, for proposed construction works a refurbishment and demolition (RAD) asbestos survey is required.

2 June2021

CDM - Designer Risk Assessments

Dr. Khalid Bhutto Articles

Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM) 2015 require designers to provide comprehensive information, about the risks originating from their designs, to client, principal designer, other designers, principal contractor and contractors (Regulations 8(6), 9(3)(b) and 9(4)). The above information should include design, construction and post-completion maintenance phases. For clarification, 'designers' include architects, consulting engineers, quantity surveyors, chartered surveyors, interior designers, temporary works engineers, technicians or anyone who specifies or alters a design.

It is now a well established practice to use Designer Risk Assessments (DRAs) to fulfil the above requirements. However, this information can also be included on drawings etc. We (Safescope) act as Principal Designers and receive a number of DRAs on a regular basis. Disappointingly, the majority of DRAs (almost 90%) tend to be very generic and a tick box exercise. In reality, DRAs are a great opportunity for designers to proactively inform the relevant parties about the risks that they are aware of in a project .

Residual DRAs at post completion stage are essential to inform the client about the residual risks that the client is expected to manage. Failure to provide this information can lead to injuries during post completion maintenance phase resulting in potential liability or even prosecution for designers.

However, it is also a fact that there are no good examples or effective CPD training courses available to assist the designers in writing project specific and effective DRAs. The DRA template should include design, pre-construction, construction and post completion sections and ideally should be no more than two A4 pages for a medium size project (say up to £1m). Safescope have developed 'A Practical Guidance on Designer Duties' and a 'Sample DRA' to assist designers. Please contact us to receive a free copy of the Guidance and Sample DRA.

2 June2021

CDM Principal Designer (PD) Role

Dr. Khalid Bhutto Articles

Who is the Principal Designer?

A Principal Designer (PD) is the designer with control over the pre-construction phase of the project. This is from very earliest stage of a project (i.e. concept design) through to planning and may extend right up to the delivery of the construction work. The PD must be appointed in writing by the Client for any construction work that involves more than one contractor.

What does the Principal Designer do?

A PD, in principle, is responsible for health and safety aspects of the design. The PD must make the Client aware of their duties under the Construction Design Management Regulations 2015 (CDM Regulations). PD then must plan, manage and monitor health and safety in the pre-construction phase, including; identifying, eliminating or controlling foreseeable risks; and ensuring Designers carry out their duties.

The PD has many more duties which are explained under Part 3 of CDM Regulations and HSE Guidance Document L153.

The Principal Designer and Domestic Client Projects!

CDM Regulations apply to all construction work including Domestic Client projects. PD duties must be fulfilled on any Domestic Client project which involves more than one contractor. A Domestic Client project is any construction work carried out purely for someone's own personal residential use and is not intended for profit and has no connection with commercial or voluntary organisations. Domestic Client duties under CDM Regulations are passed on to others who are carrying out the work on their behalf (such as main Designer and main Contractor).

The Pre-Construction Information!

The PD is responsible for ensuring that the right information reaches the right people at the right time. It should be prepared early in the project so that it can be provided to any designers and contractors as part of the tendering and procurement process. This enables those preparing bids to assess the resources they will need to allocate to perform their duties under the CDM Regulations. The amount of detail included in Pre-construction Information (PCI) should be enough to ensure that significant risks can be anticipated, focussing on those risks that could not reasonably be anticipated. Information generally required in the PCI include but not limited to; project description, key dates, contact details of project team, extent and location of existing information etc. along with safety hazards such as existing services etc . health hazards such as asbestos etc and significant design and construction hazards and Health and Safety File format etc.

2 June2021

Timber Frame Buildings, 16 Steps to Fire Safety

Dr. Khalid Bhutto Articles

Timber Frame Buildings and 16 Steps to Fire Safety - Principal Designer and Principal Contractor Considerations

Fire is a hazard during most construction processes and it is important that precautions are in place to both prevent fires and ensure that people can escape to safety if fire does occur. During the construction phase timber frame and structural timber buildings are more vulnerable because the precautions for the finished building are not in place. It is therefore critical that suitable and proportionate steps are taken to manage the risk from fire and that these are planned during the design and pre-construction phase, and then implemented fully during the construction process.

The Principal Designer (PD) should review and Implement steps 1 to 3

The Principal Contractor (PC) should review and implement relevant steps 4 to 16


  • Step 1: Legal and insurance requirements (design stage)

  • Step 2: Designing out fire risk (design stage)

  • Step 3: Consideration of fire risk during construction (design stage)

  • Step 4: Legal requirements (pre-site start)

  • Step 5: Appointment of a Fire safety co-ordinator to take ownership of the fire risk assessment process (pre-site start)

  • Step 6: Preparation of Site Fire Safety Plan (pre-site start)

  • Step 7: Effective Communication and Regular Liaison (pre-site start)

  • Step 8: Promoting a 'fire safe' working environment (construction phase)

  • Step 9: Installation of Fire Detection and Warning systems (construction phase)

  • Step 10: Establishment of Emergency Escape Routes (construction phase)

  • Step 11: Site Security (construction phase)

  • Step 12: Fire Safe Site Facilities (construction phase)

  • Step 13: Plant, Equipment and Vehicles (construction phase)

  • Step 14: Site Organisation and Tidiness (construction phase)

  • Step 15: Checks, Inspections and tests throughout the construction phase (construction phase)

  • Step 16: Implementation of Permits to Work system (construction phase)

Source Structural Timber Association, please download a copy.

2 June2021

CDM Client Duties

Dr. Khalid Bhutto Articles

Who is a Commercial Client?

Organisations or individuals for whom a construction project is carried out that is done as part of a business.

Who is a Domestic Client?

People who have construction work carried out on their own home (or the home of a family member) that isNOT done as part of a business.

Commercial Client Duties Summary

Make suitable arrangements for managing a project, including making sure:

  • Other duty holders (including Principal Designer and Principal Contractor) are appointed as appropriate
  • Sufficient time and resources are allocated
  • Make sure relevant information is prepared and provided to other duty holders
  • The Principal Designer and Principal Contractor carry out their duties
  • Welfare facilities are provided
  • HSE are notified about the construction work using F10, if threshold requirements are met.

Domestic Client Duties Summary

Though in scope of CDM, their client duties are normally transferred to:

  • The contractor for single contractor projects
  • The Principal Contractor for projects with more than one contractor

  • However, the domestic client can instead choose to have a written agreement with the Principal Designer to carry out the client duties.

    The Domestic Client and The Principal Designer!

    CDM applies to all construction work including domestic projects. As a domestic client your duties under CDM are passed on to others who are carrying out the construction work on your behalf (such as designers and contractors). If a domestic client has appointed an architect (or otherdesigner) on a project involving more than one contractor, they can ask them to manage the project and take on the client duties instead of the Principal Contractor. The designer then takes on the responsibilities of PD and must have a written agreement with the domestic client, confirming they have agreed (as PD) to take on the client duties as well as their own responsibilities.

    Any designer in charge of co-ordinating and managing a project is assumed to be the PD. However, if they do not have a written agreement with the domestic client to confirm they are taking on the client duties, those duties automatically pass to the Principal Contractor.