health and safety cdm regulations change will affect contractors

Robert Daniel, technical & BIM coordinator at Marley Eternit, explains the health and safety requirements of the new CDM Regulations, which will affect all domestic building and refurbishment work for the first time.

The Construction (Design and Management), or CDM, Regulations are designed to make it easier for those involved in construction projects to manage health, safety and welfare.  In what has been reported as the largest change to construction health and safety legislation in eight years, a new version of the CDM Regulations  has been drafted and, if approved, will directly affect domestic projects and SMEs for the first time.

Previously the CDM Regulations created health and safety obligations for notifiable construction projects which lasted more than 30 days or involved 500 days of manpower on site.  Domestic clients, i.e. people having work done to their own property or self builders, were always exempt from these obligations, whatever the size of the project.  However, the proposed 2015 regulations will apply to domestic clients for the first time, covering all building projects regardless of the size, duration or nature of the work. 

This is particularly significant as many contractors and installers won’t have had to comply with the legal requirements in the past but now all new build, demolition, refurbishment, extension and repair and maintenance work is included. This means that even a small roof repair project now needs to comply with the CDM Regulations 2015.

These changes are very important for all roofing contractors to be aware of but, from a legal point of view,  it will particularly affect those working on smaller self build, repair or refurbishment projects.

The amendments to the CDM Regulations are a direct response to the EU’s Directive 92/57/EEC, established in the early 1990s, which sought to place a greater emphasis on safety co-ordination throughout all the relevant parties in a construction projects and create a more ‘joined-up approach’.

In the past, a CDM co-ordinator had to be appointed on applicable projects to advise the client on health and safety from both a design and construction point of view.  Under the proposed CDM Regulations 2015, these duties are now shared out among a principal designer, principal contractor, all contractors on site and the client.

The principal designer (i.e. the architect for larger projects) has to ensure that their design accommodates factors which minimise health and safety issues in construction and subsequent use. The principal contractor (usually the main contractor or housebuilder) must then prepare a safety plan and is under a specific duty to plan and manage the construction work, managing health and safety issues, co-ordinating contractors and providing site inductions.  All sub-contractors working on site are required to plan and manage their work so as to avoid risks, to comply with directions given by the principal contractor and employ competent, trained workers.

This is probably not dissimilar to what most contractors and installers working on site already have to do from a health and safety point of view but it does mean they need to review their processes and make sure they have the necessary documentation in place.

The biggest impact is for  contractors working on smaller projects, such as roof refurbishments, where they are the only contractor on site.  In these cases, they will have to fulfil the role of principal designer and principal contractor, meaning they need to consider health and safety in the design and also produce a safety plan for the site.  The new regulations state this plan must be developed as soon as practical before setting up the site and starting work.

If you are the only contractor on site, then the general requirements for construction sites also apply;  you must provide welfare facilities suitable for the size of the project, such as drinking water and toilets and there is also a requirement to ensure a site induction is provided to every worker, which should be site specific and cover health and safety risks and procedures.  The sole contractor must also take steps to prevent unauthorised access to the site and make sure workers have the necessary skills, knowledge and training to carry out the work safely.

These changes are a legal requirement and they are enforceable by the HSE.  Any contractor that doesn’t follow the correct procedures can have construction work stopped by the HSE or even face prosecution. 

While it sounds like a big increase in paperwork and responsibility for small roofing projects, it is important not to forget that these changes are essentially aimed at reducing accident risk on all construction sites.  Falls account for more deaths and serious injuries in construction than anything else and roofers account for 24% – the biggest category of worker by far – of those people who are killed in all falls from height. Protecting the health and safety of a roofer working for an SME is just as important as protecting someone working on large roofing projects and these regulations go some way to addressing this imbalance. 

There are practical tools and support available to help contractors comply with the new CDM regulations and we’ve included links to some of these below:
- The HSE has created a construction phase plan (safety plan) template for those working on domestic client projects and this can be found in the ‘Busy Builder’ section of the HSE website – www.hse.gov.uk/construction
- The CITB has been very active in this area and has lots of useful information on its website including specific guidance for contractors, as well as a free app to help SMEs create their own safety plans – www.citb.co.uk/cdmregs

The CDM Regulations were due to come into force on 6 April 2015 but were still awaiting final Parliamentary approval at the time of writing this article.  It is expected that a transitional period will run for six months from 6 April 2015 to 6 October 2015.

Here at Marley Eternit, we are always on hand to offer practical and experienced support. Whether you have a query, are unable to find what you are looking for or would like to report an issue, drop your details below and we will be in touch.
Please note: we are unable to accept sample requests through this form.