Commenting on the release of draft guidance on the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015, Paul Reeve, ECA director of Business Services, said, “There are some significant additions to the outgoing 2007 version including extra duties on many contractors which will come as a surprise to thousands of companies. Two practical challenges will be to explain what’s new to both clients and smaller contractors and then help them to comply.”

Over the last 20 years, many clients and contractors have embraced the myth that the CDM only applies when a construction job is big enough to be ‘notifiable’ to the HSE. But in CDM 2015 the Regulations apply no matter how small the job and notification is not required before contractors and others need to comply. The new Regulations and guidance also underline that ‘construction’ covers all sorts of work (e.g. building fit-out, commissioning and maintenance) no matter how small.

“Even now, the general requirements of CDM apply to small jobs but this has always presented a communication problem for the HSE,” Reeve continued. “With CDM 2015 the situation will be more acute because from April virtually all of the duties will apply even for smaller jobs.” 

Reeve cites the new requirement for both a principal contractor and a principal designer as soon as there is ‘more than one contractor’.  Currently, a principal contractor is only needed if the project is big enough to be notifiable. “Both these roles carry additional duties under CDM 2015,” said Reeve. “Many more contractors – of all types and sizes – will need to step up and be the principal contractor at some time. One challenge will be to help them get there.”  

Another change in CDM 2015 will be the introduction of legal duties on domestic customers to help implement European law.  The new Regulations say that these duties should fall automatically on the client’s main contractor. According to Reeve, “This change underlines the need for domestic clients to make an informed choice about whether a contractor is up to the task of managing a job safely.”  

In the issue of contractor selection, Reeve added, “In general, we welcome the new HSE guidance on pre-qualification. There is some good advice about using Safety Schemes in Procurement and PAS 91, the draft industry PQQ Standard. HSE’s guidance further underlines the case for making PAS 91 a British Standard as soon as possible.” 

Reeve concludes, “This has been a tough consultative exercise for the HSE but it is on track for new Regulations in April 2015. Although HSE has worked hard to curtail regulatory burdens on small businesses, it’s clear that many small businesses will pick up extra duties in future. The new draft guidance issued by HSE and CONIAC is well over 150 pages long, so it seems that even a pared-back version of CDM still needs a lot of explaining.”