Headline Findings – CDM 2015
The HSE have now released their response to the CDM 2015 consultation.
The review of CDM was in response to an EU finding that the UK had not correctly transposed the Temporary or Mobile Construction Sites Directive (TMCDS). Current Cabinet Office guidance for regulation has a “one in, two out” rule, along with no “gold-plating” of EU Regulations. The current CDM 2007 Regulations will therefore be revoked and replaced by a new set, with the following significant changes proposed by the consultation:
- Removal of the current Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) and replaced with a suite of specific guidance, primarily aimed at SMEs.
- Removal of the detailed requirements on competence and replaced with a more generic framework.
- Replacement of the CDM Coordinator with the role of Principal Designer.
- Changing the notification threshold to a minimum of 20 people onsite
- Domestic construction included
- Construction phase plans required for most projects, not just notifiable ones.
Of the 1427 responses received, 65 per cent were from either the entertainment sector or were CDM Coordinators who were not the target of the consultation. These views were discounted from the overall findings and therefore recommendations.
The HSE recognised difficulties in the entertainment sector in applying CDM to minor construction, e.g. erecting and dismantling stages, but applied more weight to responses from representative bodies. In addition:
- Trade Unions were cautiously supportive of the proposals
- Representative bodies of CDM Coordinators were cautiously supportive of the recommended changes
- Industry stakeholders (RIBA and APS) were generally supportive of the replacement of the CDM coordinator with the role of Principal Designer.
- Smaller contractors and several industry stakeholders expressed concerns about lowering of the threshold for formal appointments in pre-construction and construction phases
- Part 4 of CDM 2015 was strongly supported for its retention.
Concerns were also expressed about design professionals influencing health and safety outcomes. Furthermore, the revision will align regulations with Directive requirements and would require a written construction phase health and safety plan for almost all construction project.
Many also expressed concern that for the smallest of projects which are generally managed informally, attempts to comply could be disproportionate to the risks involved and could prove burdensome.
This lack of flexibility was therefore cited by a substantial number as an area of concern, particularly in the transitional provisions of the revised regulations.
Criticism of the HSE’s proposal to replace the ACOP came from representative bodies and individuals alike. In fact, only 33 per cent of these responses supported the proposal to replace the ACOP with guidance, although judgement is reserved until the proposed guidance is published.
The ACOP will fall by default when CDM 2015 revokes CDM 2007.
The current requirement to notify projects which last more than 30 days or 500 person days of labour will now have an additional minimum requirement of 20 workers onsite under the proposals. It is estimated this will halve the notifiable projects by 60,000 fewer notifications per year.
However, projects undertaken for domestic clients meeting the notification threshold will no longer be exempt.
Commercial client responsibilities
Significant support for the HSE’s approach of increasing CDM 2015 on commercial client responsibilities were expressed in two areas:
- Client duties would be too onerous on small and occasional clients
- Strengthening duties on clients might provoke a defensive response.
The HSE will revisit the drafting of the Statutory Instrument to improve the clarity of the provision relating to domestic clients.
The HSE considered there is a strong case to proceed with the revision to CDM.
QS Associates response:
Whilst QS Associates supports the idea of trying to more effectively bed the CDMC role within the project team by the proposed replacement of the CDM Coordinator role with that of principal designer, there is concern that the HSE may have overestimated the appetite for designers to engage in their new role. As a result, it is likely that the default position will not change and the construction coordination function will be delegated to a third party instead.
Overall, the messages emerging from the consultation of the future of competence suggests there are significant concerns from many quarters about the current approach to competence.
Paul Clark, Partner at QS Associates said:
“There are several areas of concern within the HSE key proposals which we believe, should be revisited. Lowering the notification threshold, whilst resulting in time-saving efficiencies – will result in the HSE losing visibility of smaller site – their current area of focus. And dropping the requirement for an independent CDM Coordinator will result in some sites losing their only safety contact. Not all designers will be able or willing to take on the additional responsibility and some may subcontract.
“Finally, requiring construction phase plans for all projects will significantly add to bureaucracy and costs, but as no-one is required to review them, they will not necessarily make anything safer.”