Gleeds associate director, Nicholas Hadfield, has been working with Construction Design and Management Regulations (commonly referred to as CDM) since they came into effect in March 1995. Here, he discusses the impact that its most recent iteration is having on the industry.

What are the biggest differences between CDM 2015 and its predecessor CDM 2007?

Arguably the two biggest changes in CDM 2015 are the replacement of the role of CDM co-ordinator (CDMC) with the new role of principal designer and the increased duties on the client. These changes are closely linked, as the principal designer’s duties reduce the requirement to advise the client, even though due to their enhanced statutory duties, the client could require more advice.

The duties of the principal designer therefore differ significantly to those of the CDMC, as they are now required to plan, manage and monitor the pre-construction phase of any project that involves more than one contractor. 

What are the most common issues clients and design practices have struggled with since its introduction?

This ranges from project to project, but a good example and one I’ve encountered with some design practices is the need for an increased level of health and safety knowledge, skills and experience.

In a typical case a design practice will take on the principal designer role and find themselves in a position where, in attempting to meet their statutory duties, they struggle with the additional time and resources required. This can often become a distraction from the core work of designing, where their skills should be applied.

Since 2015 Gleeds has worked on a range of projects as CDM consultants for both clients and designers, making life considerably easier for all involved and reducing the unease clients and designers have regarding fulfilling their statutory CDM duties. 

Why are companies still struggling to adapt to the changes?

More often than not it’s due to the time and commitment required to integrate suitably experienced staff and workable CDM management systems. Whereas previously the CDMC was there to provide CDM advice to the client and design team, that role has been split in what is roughly a 70% – 30% divide between the client and the principal designer respectively, who are now faced with duties they were not previously responsible for.   

What is the impact CDM 2015 has had on the industry?

We are now on the third version of the CDM regulations and the indications so far from the industry reveal that many remain confused as to how the regulations should be applied. With the Health and Safety Executive’s fees for intervention and their sentencing guidelines for offences, this can result in quite a difficult operational environment. I believe that the best way to ensure compliance is to have good, robust systems in place to manage and benefit from the requirements of CDM.

What role has Gleeds played in providing solutions for CDM 2015 related problems?

We believe that over the coming years the industry will continue to develop and improve their approaches to CDM 2015, and in particular the role of principal designer. Gleeds’ consultancy services as CDM advisors, to both clients and design practices, are in high demand. From identifying existing site hazards to preparing pre-construction information, we work closely with CDM duty holders to ensure that their projects meet all CDM requirements.

Nicholas Hadfield

Nicholas Hadfield
Associate Director