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CDM 2015 – Are You Ready For the Summer Works?

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM 2015) are the main set of regulations for managing health, safety and welfare on construction projects. 

CDM 2015 was introduced in 2015 and applies to ALL construction work. If more than one contractor is being used (this includes sub-contractors) the client MUST appoint a Principal Designer AND a Principal Contractor. This is a LEGAL requirement. 

CDM is the most misunderstood legislation and probably carries one of the most significant risks of material breaches of legislation. Why?... Let’s review; 

I am still an active Principle Designer and have worked on big projects including ‘building schools for the future programme’ and also many smaller projects over the years. Most of the bigger projects are planned for the summer or Easter holiday break due the allowance of time to finish projects.  

Schools actively engage, select, project manage all school related building works which include the standard building compliance service and maintenance works but also projects including building improvement such as refurbishment. All of which come under the CDM 2015 regulations, which has specific legal requirements for specific duty holders. The problem I frequently find is that those ‘duty holders’ and specifically the initial duty holder which is normally the school – ‘The Client’ fails to understand their role in this area.  

The client is the school commissioning construction work. Now, the fact that the first word of these regulations is CONSTRUCTION is misleading as many look at this as simply a construction type project, BUT CDM applies to all building and construction work and includes new build, demolition work, refurbishment, extensions, conversions, repair and maintenance, basically the easiest description is ‘any works on the fabric of the building’ 

As an example from my experience last summer, of a complete failure and non-conformity to the regulations; I was called by a member to review and assist in one of their school summer works. This included a full replacement to the outside fascias & soffits, refurbishment works throughout, painting and other works. This included 5 different contractors. It quickly become apparent that the school – The Client – had failed to follow the CDM duties. The works had begun and they didn’t appoint a principle designer, principle contractor and by default they became responsible for all of these duty holder roles and the specific legal requirements, putting the Trust in a very serious legal breach. 

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An overview of the Client  

CDM 2015 defines a client as anyone for whom a construction project is carried out. The client has a major influence over the way a project is procured and managed. Regardless of the size of the project, the client has contractual control, appoints designers and contractors, and determines the money, time and other resources available. In some circumstances, it may not be clear who the client or clients are. Any uncertainty should be resolved as early as possible by considering who:  

  • Ultimately decides what is to be constructed, where, when and by whom commissions the design and construction work (the employer in contract terminology) 
  • initiates the work 
  • is at the head of the procurement chain; and 
  • appoints contractors (including the principal contractor) and designers (including the principal designer). 

If there is still doubt about who the client or clients are, all the possible clients should agree that one or more of them is treated as the client for the purposes of CDM 2015. 

The school, as the client, cannot leave health and safety to the principle designer and principle contractor only and is also under a duty to take all reasonable steps to ensure that arrangements for managing any construction project are suitable to ensure that it is carried out without risk to health and safety. This means that, under the CDM Regulations, designers, contractors and clients must work closely together on all aspects of health and safety. 

Any person who appoints duty holders, i.e. a principal designer, principal contractor or contractor, must be able to demonstrate capability and have the necessary resources to fulfil their legal duties. 

Pre-Construction Phase  

The pre-construction phase is the inception, design and planning stage of a project (before the construction or building work starts) is essential. The client must ensure that construction work is properly planned, resourced and managed to protect the health, safety and welfare of those carrying out work on, or who may be affected by, the project.  

This includes:  

  • Selecting the project team 
  • Formally appointing duty holders (designers and contractors)
  • Provide pre-construction information
  • Ensure the project is notified where necessary 
  • Ensure management arrangements are working

NASPM – National Alliance of School Premises Managers 

We have developed CDM School Guidance and Template documents to assist the school in managing all contractor works, including CDM duty holder management. We also have a management of contractor policy and permit to work templates.  

We complete frequent CDM Certificated Awareness Training that details the requirements for schools including the client duty holder role/ competent person training. This training is completed via zoom that breaks down the complexity of the legislation and delivers in a simple and supportive training style. The next available national training is on Friday 5 July from 1000-1230hrs free for members, £75 for non-members. Contact to book your place. Join here for £295 and start to benefit from being part of the National Alliance including this free training and access to the key CDM documents and other key supporting documents.  

Action and Advice  

  • Be aware and understand the need for Construction Phase Plans for all building works 
  • Use project style management templates for all contractor works as the planning is in the detail  
  • List the contractor’s the school use and ensure you have a file of the school selection process, asking to see their health and safety policy, insurance, training, construction phase plans 
  • Seek additional training for CDM management in Schools. NASPM are running this training on Friday 5 July from 1000-1230hrs free for members, £75 for non-members. Contact

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