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As a construction business or construction related business, you must comply with ‘corporate sector‘ legal requirements, but also have to comply with the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015) that came into force on 6th April 2015.

There has been a significant amount of confusion throughout the construction industry, with businesses and with the general public who have a work carried out on a domestic residence.  CDM 2015 affects construction businesses, business who have work done on their premises and the general public who have work done on their homes (domestic residence) too.

CDM 2015 sets out what ‘dutyholders’ involved in construction work need to do to protect themselves and anyone the work affects from harm.

CDM 2015 dutyholders are:

  • Client
  • Domestic Client
  • Designer
  • Principal Designer (PD)
  • Contractor
  • Principal Contractor (PC)
  • Workers

CDM 2015 places a legal obligation on construction businesses and construction related businesses to have access to ‘competent construction H&S advice’.  (Even when working on domestic properties!)  We work with Principal Contractors, Builders, Plumbers, Roofers, Electricians, HV Electricians, Shopfitters, Sprayers, Landscape Gardeners, Window Installers, etc.

Summary of the dutyholders main responsibilities and duties


A client has responsibility to make suitable arrangements for managing a project.  This includes making sure that:

  • other duty holders are appointed
  • sufficient time and resources are allocated
  • relevant information is prepared and provided to other duty holders
  • the principal designer and principal contractor carry out their duties
  • welfare facilities are provided.

Domestic Clients

They are included in the new CDM 2015 Regulations, but their duties as a client are normally transferred to:

  • the contractor on a single contractor project, or
  • the Principal Contractor on a project involving more than one contractor.

The domestic client can choose to have a written agreement with the Principal Designer (PD) to carry out the client duties.

Domestic clients should read the HSE’s guidance called ‘Need building work done?’


The designer’s role when preparing or modifying designs is to eliminate, reduce or control foreseeable risks that may happen during construction or maintenance and use of a building after it’s been built.

The designer also provides information to other members of the project team to help them fulfil their duties.

Principal Designer (PD)

The Principal Designer (PD) is responsible for planning, managing, monitoring and coordinating Health & Safety (H&S) in the pre-construction phase of a project. This includes:

  • identifying, eliminating or controlling foreseeable risks
  • ensuring designers carry out their duties.
  • preparing and providing relevant information to other dutyholders.

    The PD also liaises with the principal contractor to help in the planning, management and monitoring of the health and safety in the construction phase.


    Anyone who directly engages construction workers or manages construction work is a contractor.  This includes companies that use their own workforce to do the work on their premises and duties apply to all workers be they employees, self-employed or agency workers.  The contractor’s duty is to:

    • plan, manage and monitor construction work under their control so that it is carried out without risks to health and safety.
    • for projects involving more than one contractor, co-ordinate their activities with others in the project team – in particular, comply with directions given to them by the Principal Designer or Principal Contractor.
    • for single contractor projects, prepare a construction phase plan.

    Principal Contractors (PC)

    The Principal Contractor’s (PC) duty is to:

    • plan, manage, monitor and coordinate health and safety in the construction phase of a project
    • liaise with the client and principal designer
    • prepare the construction phase plan
    • organise cooperation between contractors and coordinate their work.


    • suitable site inductions are provided
    • reasonable steps are taken to prevent unauthorised access
    • workers are consulted and engaged in health and safety matters
    • welfare facilities are provided


    As people working for or under the control of contactors on a construction site the workers have duties as well as their employers.  Workers must:

    • be consulted about matters which affect their health, safety and welfare
    • take care of their own health and safety and others who may be affected by their actions
    • report anything they see which is likely to endanger either their own or others’ health and safety
    • cooperate with their employer, fellow workers, contractors and other duty holders.

    Construction Phase H&S Plan (CPHSP)

    If you are a business who conducts construction or construction related work as defined on page one of this newsletter, a CPHSP MUST be produced when you undertake any jobs when:

    • You are the only contractor involved, or
    • You are acting as the Principal Contractor.

    When and Why is a construction project notifiable?

    A project is notifiable under Regulation 6 of CDM 2015 to the HSE, if the work is expected or scheduled to:

    • Last longer than 30 working days and have more than 20 workers working simultaneously at any point in the project, or
    • Exceed 500 person days.

    The client is required to send the notification.  The only exception is when the client is a ‘domestic client’, where the responsibility automatically passes to the Contractor (or PC) where there is more than one contractor involved.  The PD can assume responsibility of a domestic project, but only where there is written agreement with the domestic client.

    The Health & Safety (H&S) file

    The H&S file is only required for projects involving more than one contractor.

    The Principal Designer (PD) prepares, reviews, updates and revises it as the project progresses.  If the PD’s appointment continues to the end of the project, they must also pass the completed file to the Client.  If the PD’s appointment finishes before the end of the project, the file must be passed to the Principal Contractor (PC) for the remainder of the project.  The PC then takes responsibility the until the project finishes and the file is passed to the Client.

    The H&S file must contain relevant information about the project and be used if any construction work is carried out on the building in the future to plan and carry out work safely and without risks to health.

    The H&S file is a record of useful information to help the ‘Client’ manage H&S risks during any future maintenance, repair, construction work or demolition.  The ‘Client’ should keep the file safe, make it available to anyone who needs to alter or maintain the building, and update it if any circumstances change.

    CDM 2015 construction work definition

    CDM 2015 defines construction work as; carrying out of any building, civil engineering or engineering construction work and includes:

    1. The construction, alteration, conversion, fitting out, commissioning, renovation, repair, upkeep, redecoration or other maintenance (including cleaning which involves the use of water or an abrasive at high pressure or the use of corrosive or toxic substances), de-commissioning, demolition or dismantling of a structure;
    2. The preparation for an intended structure, including site clearance, exploration, investigation (but not site survey) and excavation, and the clearance or preparation of the site or structure for use or occupation at its conclusion;
    3. The assembly on site of prefabricated elements to form a structure or the disassembly on site of prefabricated elements which, immediately before such disassembly, formed a structure;
    4. The removal of a structure or of any product or waste resulting from demolition or dismantling of a structure or from disassembly of prefabricated elements which immediately before such disassembly formed such a structure; and
    5. The installation, commissioning, maintenance, repair or removal of mechanical, electrical, gas, compressed air, hydraulic, telecommunications, computer or similar services, which are normally fixed within or to a structure.

    Industry Guidance

    For additional information about specific ‘dutyholder’ responsibilities, please see:

    Competent construction H&S advice

    If you are a construction businesses or a construction related businesses and require access to ‘competent construction H&S advice’, please contact us.


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