Construction Design & Management (CDM) Legislation


Most employers will be aware of the existence of the Health and Safety Act 1974, the cornerstone of modern legislation in establishing a general duty of care for their employees.

What is more difficult for business owners and managers in the Building Trades in particular is the array of additional Regulations that have sprung up around construction safety in recent years.

Here we give a brief run-down of the key ones that you are likely to encounter if you are involved in construction.

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

This includes the need for Risk Assessments, a central requirement for employers but one that all too often is overlooked. The risks to employees and to others who might be affected by the company’s activities must be assessed and action plans made to address problem areas. This is not a straightforward task in construction projects: using a specialist firm of Health and Safety Consultants is highly advisable.

Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007

CDM regulations now require you to provide supports to make sure no excavations collapse or that any person or material falls into them, and that the excavations are not overburdened with equipment.

A competent person has to check equipment and materials before each shift, each event that might affect security, or an unintended fall or dislodging of material. No more work must be done if work cannot be carried out in safety, until a remedy has been found.

This is a potential minefield for employers if things go wrong, but CDM co-ordinators are available to help you meet the regulations and keep on top of a project.

Electricity at Work Regulations 1989

When you are working on an electrical system, you must avoid the risk of injury by using suitable and properly maintained equipment; and by using protection in the form of insulation, fuses, earthing, circuit breakers and isolation. Do not work on live conductors, allow adequate space, access and lighting for the work and make sure all workers are competent or are properly supervised.

Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006

It is essential to find out if there is asbestos in a building and if so, whether it is likely to release fibres. You can get asbestos awareness training from your CDM consultants to assist you in this process.

If there is a danger, you need a plan to manage the risk and protect people. An HSE licence is required for any work other than at very low levels of exposure, and you must package up the material in sealed containers and dispose of it at a registered site.

Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998

Under this legislation you must test and inspect forklifts and loaders etc., make sure loads are not displaced or overturned, and of course train and use only qualified operatives: if in doubt get help from your safety consultants.

Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992

Personal protective equipment (PPE) must be supplied free to workers. (Ask about specialist workwear companies who can help ensure you are compliant). Sikh workers who wear turbans have a specific exemption from wearing the otherwise compulsory headgear for construction works.

Work at Height Regulations 2005

Working at height is the largest single cause of accidents and of deaths at work. Hence the importance placed on it by HSE Inspectors, and the need for you to get this area right.

Assess that you have suitable protective equipment and that controls are in place to ensure it is used. HSE favour handrails in risky areas, in preference to other means. Replace any rails that have to be taken away to move materials.

Notification of Conventional Tower Cranes Regulations 2010

This recent construction safety requirement means that if you assemble cranes on site, you must notify certain information to the HSE, who maintain a public national record.

New Roads and Streetworks Act 1991

Construction work often requires some excavation in the street. If so, anyone involved has to be qualified, and trained to watch out for and avoid disturbing existing sub-surface services.

Confined Spaces Regulations 1997

A risk assessment and controls are needed for places where there is a danger of asphyxiation due to gases, liquids, fumes etc. An untrained person is unlikely to get this right: qualified CDM consultants can ensure that the right technical reports and advice are supplied.

Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005

Building sites can be noisy places and an average of more than 80dB in a working day is likely to cause some permanent loss of hearing.

The company must reduce exposure to noise in this situation, by provision of ear protectors, information, using a different way of working or in extremis, removing workers from the area. Measurement may be required, and this is a service that can be supplied by specialist CDM co-ordinators.

Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998

This final Regulation covers mobile equipment and deals with the need to minimise the risk of overturning when using forklifts and platforms that carry people. Self-propelled equipment must have auto-stop fitted.

Just this short list alone does not do justice to the level of detail now required by legislation. Every week brings new construction safety cases to the courts, and these are just the tip of the iceberg. Inspectors are increasingly active in requiring evidence that you meet the new rules.

If you as an employer are to avoid spending much of your time on compliance, a careful selection of the right CDM consultants is time well spent.

McCormack Benson Heath & Safety is a firm of Health and Safety Consultants with a particular expertise in the building trades. Qualified and industry-experienced consultants work with you, not for the authorities, to guide you through the potential minefields of modern-day CDM.