CDM 2015: A Brief Update

CDM 2015: A Brief Update

  • Date: Wednesday 4th February 2015


The wait is nearly over and the much anticipated and strongly debated Construction Design Management Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015) are soon to come into force. This article gives a brief overview of:

  • why there was a need for change
  • what were the key objectives and proposals
  • the current position and transition period
  • a summary of the main changes

CDM 2007: The Need for Change

Although it was generally agreed that the intent, purpose and general structure of CDM legislative framework was fit for purpose, problems manifested themselves in industry due to legal interpretation, levels of bureaucracy, tortuous and burdensome competency assessments (especially for the SMEs). Most significantly there appeared to be lack of coordination at the pre-construction phase when hazards can be designed out of the construction, use and maintenance phases of the project life. Although there are many excellent CDM Coordinators operating in the UK, the majority view of the industry, gleaned from the initial CDM Review, was that the role in its current form has not added the value intended by the legislation. In many cases this was attributed to lack of resources, late appointment and the fact that the CDM Coordinators were not fully embedded in the design team.


HSE Objectives for CDM 2015

Experience in the UK construction industry led the HSE to believe there was a need:


  • to reduce bureaucracy
  • to embed the principals of CDM at the smaller end of the industry where the majority of the accidents occur
  • for greater alignment with the Temporary or Mobile Construction Sites Directive (TMCSD)
  • for a more simple, linear and direct structure that maintained the same 'core' principals as CDM 2007
Key Proposals

A consultative document was issued in 2014 outlining the following main changes:

  • a more linear legislative structure
  • replacement of the CDM Coordinator with Principal Designer
  • removal of the domestic client exemption
  • replacement of the Approved Code of Practice with Legal (L) Series Guidance and Duty Holder specific guidance prepared by the industry
  • provision of a more generic framework for competence

Current Position

The draft Regulations have been amended following consultation although the L Series guidance may be subject to change while the Regulations are awaiting Parliamentary approval (and the Regulations themselves could change in the Parliamentary approval process). Subject to approval, the new CDM 2015 Regulations will come into force on 6th April 2015. HSE has published draft L Series guidance before the Regulations come in to help duty holders prepare in advance.

The final version of the L Series guidance to support CDM 2015 will be available on 6th April 2015. Additional guidance has been written by CONIAC (Construction Industry Advisory Committee) with the smaller businesses in mind and is generally duty holder specific.

The draft documents can be downloaded from the following links:

Legal (L) Series Guidance

Client Industry Guidance

Principal Designer Industry Guidance

Designer Industry Guidance

Principal Contractor Industry Guidance

Contractor Industry Guidance

Workers Industry Guidance


Transitional Period

Although not described within the consultation documents, there will now be a transitional period that will run for six months from 6th April 2015 to 6th October 2015. For projects starting before 6th April 2015, where the construction phase has not yet started and the Client has not yet appointed a CDM co-ordinator, the Client must appoint a Principal Designer as soon as it is practicable.

If the CDM Co-ordinator has already been appointed, a Principal Designer must be appointed to replace the CDM Co-ordinator by 6th October 2015, unless the project comes to an end before then.

Until the Client appoints the Principal Designer, the appointed CDM Co-ordinator should comply with the duties contained in Schedule 4 of the new CDM 2015 Regulations, which are largely the same as the current duties on a CDM Coordinator.


Summary of Main Changes:

  • Structural Simplification

The structure of the legislation has been streamlined and simplified and has been aimed at small to medium sized projects which tend to be operated by the SME end of the market.

  •  Client Responsibilities

Changes within the Clients duties will make them much more accountable for the impact of their decisions, their approach to project health and safety management and the way in which they ensure that the Principal Designer and Principal Contractor comply with their own duties. The latter is regarded by many as significant as this duty is not explicit under CDM 2007.

  •  Removal of the Domestic Client Exception

This exemption was primarily removed to assure compliance with the TMCSD. However the HSE recognise that the Domestic Client is unlikely to be able to competently carry out their duties. As a result the Principal Contractor / Contractor will be required to take on these duties in the first instance. The Principal Designer can also take on the duties, however they must be appointed in writing.

  •  Principal Designer

 The current role of CDM Coordinator will not exist in the new regulations and a new role of Principal Designer has been defined. The Principal Designer will be appointed by the Client and must be the Designer who is in control of the preconstruction phase of the project.

The roles carried out by the Principal Designer include:

1. Helping the Client prepare the pre-construction information and ensuring that this is received promptly by the Designers and Principal Contractor

2.   Ensuring all designers carry out their duties

3.  Plan, manage and monitor the pre-construction phase and coordinate matters relating to safety during the preconstruction phase to ensure that so far as is reasonably practicable the project is without risk to health and safety

4.  Eliminating or controlling risks throughout the design work, taking into account the general principals of prevention as stated in the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

5. Ensuring there is sufficient co-operation and co-ordination between duty holders

6.  Liaising with the Principal Contractor for the duration of the Principal Designers appointment to share information relevant to the planning, management and monitoring of the construction phase and coordination of health and safety matters during the construction phase

7.  Preparing the health and safety file

   Where the appointment of the Principal Designer concludes before the end of the project (which frequently happens on smaller projects), the responsibility for preparation of the Health and Safety File, and subsequent handover to the Client, will pass onto the Principal Contractor.


  •  Duty Holder Appointment

Where more than one contractor is on site (or foreseeably will be) the Client must appoint a Principal Designer and Principal Contractor in writing. For commercial projects the Client will be deemed to undertake these roles if appointments are not made.

  •  HSE Notification

The Client must notify the HSE of the project in writing (online F10) before the construction phase begins if:

1.    The project duration is longer than 30 days and will foreseeably have more than 20 workers on site at any one time, or

2.    The project duration will exceed 500 person days.


Construction Phase Plan

The Client is to ensure a Construction Phase Plan is in place for all projects, irrespective of size or duration.

It should be noted that under the new regulations a Health and Safety File will only be required where there is more than one contractor involved in the project.



The Client must ensure that those appointed (Principal Designer, Principal Contractor, Designer or Contractor) can demonstrate appropriate skills, knowledge, experience and organisational capability.

Loss of the Approved Code of Practice (ACoP)


The current ACoP (L144) will be in place until the new regulations come into force which the HSE are currently stating will be the 6th April 2015. After this date it will be replaced by L  series guidance. The HSE have indicated, in response to a request from the HSE Board, that an ACoP will be developed. It is however apparent the development of the ACoP will not commence until after 6th April 2015. Whilst due allowance for the consultation required for a new ACOP it could be 12 months before such a document is available.



SSG are running a number of CDM Regulation Update seminars, please click here for more information.  

Source: Dr Michael Cash 



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