The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM 2007) were one year old in April. Clients are most certainly viewed by HSE as key ‘duty holders’ and CDM 2007 made some significant changes to the client’s overall duties. There is also extra help in the Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) to CDM, notably a useful list of ‘core criteria’ to help clients assess contractors’ health and safety capabilities. The ECA fully supports these ‘core criteria’ since they provide clients and contractors with a definitive answer to the question “what does a good contractor look like?”. Another welcome development in the ACoP is the clear statement that excessive or irrelevant paperwork is not welcome. ECA is keen to work with clients to ensure that jobs deliver cost-effective risk control and not reams of forms and questionnaires. Too much paper can divert attention from the health and safety issues that matter, and also add to costs.
Big companies usually talk about CDM as if all construction work involves principal contractors and health and safety co-coordinators. Yet small construction jobs are also covered by the Regulations, and CDM 2007 removed a 1994 exemption for very small jobs. So, even if there are only a couple of workers on-site for a few days, the client, designer and contractor (even if any are micro-businesses) are covered by the essential requirements (notably Part 2) of the CDM Regulations. Very small jobs are included partly because significant hazards (e.g. asbestos, work at height) are still encountered during this work. As with larger jobs, site hazards on small construction jobs need to be dealt with by risk assessment and implementing safe methods of work (particularly for the higher hazard activities) plus proper communication between duty holders. All this means that contractors should be competent and there should be effective communication on health and safety (on-site but also before the job starts).
Essentially, CDM 2007 requires co-operation between project team members, the timely exchange of relevant health and safety information and the effective co-ordination of activities. It includes the following requirements:
CDM 2007 also confirms that the client should take reasonable steps to ensure the management of health, safety and welfare on site and ensure that the design of workplaces complies with the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996.
There are, of course, extra requirements on clients and other duty holders under CDM 2007 if construction work is ‘notifiable’ to the HSE (expected to take over 30 days or 500 man-days). These projects must also have a CDM co-ordinator and a principal contractor, plus a construction phase plan (how to build it safely) and a health and safety file (how to use and maintain it safely once it is built). When clients are assessing if large but intermittent jobs are notifiable, they may want to consider whether the job is planned (does it look like a project?) or is it made up of ad hoc, reactive work. Even though (as we have seen) the latter is covered by the essentials of CDM, it may not be notifiable.
In a panel
What is ‘construction work’?
CDM 2007 puts duties on everyone involved in ‘construction work’, from conception and design through to completion, and there are extra requirements that aim to protect those who maintain what has been built and installed. Under the Regulations, an array of activities are regarded as ‘construction work’ including:
In general, routine inspection is not covered by the CDM Regulations (it not regarded as ‘construction work’). For example, if an electrician carries out electrical testing to confirm that systems are safe, or a fire alarm company smoke tests sensors or replaces batteries in a control box, then this work – by itself – is not covered by CDM. If however, the inspection leads to maintenance work, then CDM generally applies.
It is also worth noting that ‘Site waste management plans’ (SWMPs) became law in England on 6 April for construction projects costing over £300,000 (excluding VAT). While it’s true that £300k can buy a lot of chasing and wiring, this is a relatively small threshold for a construction project. The main duty to produce a SWMP for £300k plus projects is on the client and, if you have one, your appointed principle contractor (PC). It is possible that some clients and PCs will harness the CDM methods (such as induction, toolbox talks and duty holder communication) to help ensure compliance with SWMPs, not least because CDM and SWMPs will jointly operate on many projects.
A key aim of SWMPs is to reduce construction waste that goes to landfill. By requiring construction projects to plan for the reuse and recycling of waste on-site, SWMPs can highlight opportunities for minimising waste before site work starts. When an SWMP is complete it will show how resources have been used and how waste has been managed, providing lessons for use on subsequent projects.
Another feature of SWMPs is that they support efforts to prevent so-called ‘waste crime’, notably fly-tipping. Those responsible for the SWMP should be sure of the intended destination of waste removed from site, that waste is being taken away by registered waste carriers and as far as possible, that the waste is managed legally and responsibly. A SWMP will require documentary evidence for compliance with waste ‘duty of care’ legislation.
SWMPs are likely to affect procurement, pre-qualification, tendering and contracts, plus waste management arrangements, in addition to site activity. The benefits of a SWMP can include:
Once again, we look forward to working with clients and others to deliver the aims of these new regulations, and to keep the paperwork down!
The CDM 2007 Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) is available from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE Books, price £15). HSE’s 'Want construction work done safely?' A quick guide for clients on the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007’ is at: www.hse.gov.uk/construction/cdm/moreinfo.htm?ebul=cons/sep-07&cr=02
Free industry guidance for the various CDM duty holders is available from: www.cskills.org/cdm
In addition, the Construction Clients’ Group has produced guidance for ‘Small and one-off clients’. These free guides are at: www.constructingexcellence.org.uk/pdf/ccg_info_sheet_1v2.pdf, and
*‘Netregs’ guide ‘Site Waste - It’s Criminal: a simple guide to site waste management plans’ (including a checklist and data sheet) is available at: www.netregs.gov.uk/commondata/acrobat/swmp_simpleguide_1697918.pdf
Head of Safety and Environment for Electrical Contractors' Association
This article first appeared in the 2008 bulletin publication.
Read the original publication here