….the proposed removal of the CDM Coordinator and replacement with that of a Principal Designer will result in plenty of debate. Currently the CDM Coordinator is an independent role under the CDM Regulations, which will be lost, as a Principal Designer will undoubtedly have other additional roles/duties within a project.
Consultation on proposed changes to the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM) were completed on 6th June 2014 by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) with the aim of introducing Construction (Design & Management Regulations 2015 in April next year. In its consultation document the HSE set out a number of policy objectives which explain why an update to the current CDM 2007 is required:
· Maintain or improve worker protection;
· Simplify the regulatory package;
· Improve health and safety standards on small construction sites;
· Implement the Temporary or Mobile Construction Sites Directive (TMCSD) in a proportionate way (this is a European Directive);
· Discourage bureaucracy; and
· Meet better regulation principles.
HSE also cite external research into CDM 2007 within its consultation document which concluded:
· CDM 2007 was viewed more positively by dutyholders than the 1994 version; its broad structure was fit for purpose;
· Problems generally arose through mis- and over-interpretation of the Regulations; significant concerns remained, however, in several areas:
· The Regulations had not borne down on bureaucracy as hoped;
· The Regulations had led to an industry approach to competence which was heavy-handed and in many cases burdensome, particularly on SMEs;
· The co-ordination function in the pre-construction phase was not in many cases well-embedded.
Interestingly a number of the research findings above were also reasons why it was felt that the original 1994 CDM Regulations needed to be updated and it appears that the 2007 CDM Regulations have not addressed these issues. For example, ever since the introduction of CDM 1994 and I can remember this vividly, there have always been issues around bureaucracy. Initially, this was partially down to lack of understanding of the workings of the regulations and latterly it could be argued that this is a result of complacency. I can remember numerous occasions whilst acting as Planning Supervisor (Now CDM Coordinator, although this title will no longer exist under the new proposals), where documentation such as Designer’s Risk Assessments, Pre-Tender Health & Safety Plans and even Construction Phase Health & Safety Plans had became so generic that often information was copy/pasted with the wrong project title, works information, site address etc. This situation became ridiculous and large volumes of paper were being produced because that is what some thought the Regulations required. CDM 2007 does not appear to have solved this problem, as this remains an objective for CDM 2015.
CDM 2007 also introduced the need to ensure that duty holders were competent in their role. This put additional responsibilities particularly on Clients to ensure that those they appointed in the various roles had the skills and competence to carry out their duties. Competence checking is not a role exclusive to the Client under CDM 2007, however HSE cite this as a particularly bureaucratic process and propose the following within their consultation document:
We plan to retain a general requirement under the revision of CDM (new regulation 8) for those appointing others to carry out construction work to ensure that they have received appropriate information, instruction, training and supervision to allow them to work safely. This aligns with the general requirements under Sections 2 and 3 of HSWA.
HSE believes that the competence of construction industry professionals should be overseen by, and be the responsibility of, the relevant professional bodies and institutions
It will be very interesting so see how this will work in practice, particularly when there are Health & Safety incidents which require investigations by HSE, and especially how those appointing duty holders can demonstrate that ‘duty holders have received appropriate information, instruction, training and supervision to allow them to work safely’
In summary, the proposed changes to the current 2007 CDM Regulations are:
· Significant structural simplification of the Regulations;
· The replacement of the ACoP with targeted guidance;
· Replacement of the CDM-c role with a new role, that of the ‘principal designer’;
· Removal of explicit competence requirements and replacing with a specific requirement for appropriate skills;
· Addressing areas of TMCSD relating to domestic clients; and
· The threshold for appointment of Coordinators.
I am sure that the removal of the CDM Coordinator and replacement with that of a Principal Designer will result in plenty of debate. Currently the CDM Coordinator is an independent role under the CDM Regulations, which will be lost, as a Principal Designer will undoubtedly have other additional roles/duties within a project. A Client will effective lose an independent advisor who can provide them with a fresh perspective of Health & Safety issues and responsibilities under the Regulations, outside of other individuals within the project team.
Also, HSE estimate savings of £30 million each year as a result of efficiencies gained under the proposed new CDM Regulations. Although, there ‘could’ be savings made due to reduced bureaucracy, as previously discussed (although this is questionable) it is difficult to see how the removal of the CDM Coordinator will produce any savings. The title may be changing to a Principal Designer however the role and responsibilities remain. All that will happen is that the fee currently charged by CDM Coordinators will now be charged by Principal Designers.
What about those companies and organizations who provide CDM Coordinator services, some of which are exclusive to the role? Surely they must be extremely concerned by this proposed change. The role of a Principal Designer has very wide connotations and will prevent many CDM Coordinators from simply re-labeling themselves. Whereas CDM Coordinators may have expertise in health & safety related matters, in order to be a Principal Designer they would need a much wider skill set due to the implied skills of being a 'Designer'. No doubt some will be able to make this transition, however there will undoubtedly be others who fall by the wayside.
Another implication of the proposed replacement of the CDM Coordinator will be the requirement to update numerous pieces of documentation as well as re-drafting of Construction Contracts. This will also have a cost implication and will reduce cost savings at least in the short to medium term.
The new proposal for CDM 2015 also propose changes to the notification threshold for a construction project as well as introducing duties for domestic Clients for the first time, however ‘create the default position whereby duties that would fall on a domestic client instead fall to the contractor’. This in itself generates a number of concerns however the HSE state that they expect the new regulations to be discharged in a sensible and proportionate manner. It will also be very interesting to see how this works out in practice.
You can find more information about the proposed changes to CDM Regulations from the HSE by following this link (Link).
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