CDM shakeup expected as HSE consults


The Construction (Design & Management) ‘CDM’ Regulations have not been without their critics since they were introduced in 2007.

Some feel that they have brought with them an unwanted extra layer of complexity and bureaucracy to the construction safety scene, and there has been feedback from the industry that the division of responsibilities between project designers, builders and CDM Coordinators has become blurred.

These feelings seem to have hit home within HSE, which is now consulting for 10 weeks on what should be a step change in the way projects are run. In the words of its own press release it “aims to deliver a substantially simpler set of regulations that are easier to understand and comply with, but which retain vital safety protection.

If so, many will welcome a possibly significant outcome from the Government’s endorsement of Professor Lofstedt’s report on Health & Safety legislation. This called for a far-reaching reduction, simplification and rationalisation of the current, often confusing and contradictory, safety regulations.

HSE lists these key points in its proposals, which it stresses are not ‘set in stone’:

  • the Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) goes and is replaced with some shorter, simpler, tailored guidance
  • an end to the CDM Co-ordinator position: instead a principal designer will take on the responsibilities inside the project team
  • the current (often controversial) duty to assess competence is due to be replaced by a duty to inform, instruct, train and supervise
  • the domestic client exemption is potentially being removed and “limited duties” will be put on the contractor/designer

The last item may well worry smaller contractors, who have not had to involve themselves in this set of Regulations until now when carrying out minor projects.

HSE seeks to reassure building contractors and their health & safety consultants that if they comply with the law at present, they will have not to do “significantly more under the new regulations” than they do now. But given that the Government is committed to a bonfire of health and safety laws, it seems strange that one of the reforms should envisage any increase – surely the supposition is that legislation willdecrease?

The consultants at McCormack Benson Health & Safety, given that their speciality is the construction safety sector, do echo the encouragement that HSE is giving to everyone in the industry to study and respond to their draft document.

Read the consultation document here.

he consultation opened on 31st March 2014 and will close on 6th June 2014, so please do not miss out on this opportunity to make your views – for or against – known, and to suggest what you think should be done. The current CDM Regulations have lasted some 7 years, so the new replacement set should be capable of lasting at least as long, to give the industry some stability.