CDM 2015 Regulations - The Key Changes

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CDM 2015 Regulations - The Key Changes

CDM 2015 Regulations - The Key Changes

On 6 April 2015, the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (“CDM 2015”) will come into force replacing the existing Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

The CDM 2015 will introduce a number of significant changes, which will be of direct impact to those within the construction industry. The new regulations represent a significant shift from the previous regime.

The new regulations seek to implement a better management arrangement for health and safety on construction projects and the HSE have aimed to simplify the regulations so that they are easier to understand and therefore more accessible for SMEs who work on small to medium scale construction projects.

We have set out below the key provisions of the CDM 2015 and how they intend to be implemented. Bear in mind however, that the new regulations have just come out of the consultation period and may still be subject to minor change.

Replacement of the CDM Co-ordinator by the Principal Designer

Under the new regulations, the CDM co-ordinator will be replaced by a “principal designer” on any project involving or expected to involve more than one contractor, regardless of size. As the definition of “contractor” includes trade and subcontractors; any project with more than one trade on site will require a principal designer to be appointed. The definition of “designer” is wide enough to include a project manager. It is expected the architect or project manager on a project will perform the principal designer role.

The principal designer will plan, manage and monitor the pre-construction phase. The principal designer will also assist the client in the provision of pre-construction information and also be responsible for preparing and maintaining the health and safety file which it will pass to the principal contractor at the start of the construction phase. 

Role of Principal Contractor and the Construction Phase Plan

The role of the principal contractor is largely unchanged from the previous regulations, but it is now only required where more than one contractor is involved on a project. However, the new regulations contain a requirement for a construction phase plan to be provided on every project before any works commence. Where a project involves more than one contractor the construction phase plan must be drawn up by the principal contractor, but if there is only one contractor, the contractor must carry out this role.

CDM and “domestic projects”

The CDM 2015 will also apply to domestic clients i.e. any client for whom a project is being carried out not in the course of business. Consequently small domestic extension and refurbishment projects which were previously exempt will now need to ensure they adhere to CDM 2015.

Importantly, the role of the client on domestic projects will be fulfilled by the contractor (on a single contractor project), the principal contractor (on a multiple contractor project) or the principal designer (if the client has provided written consent). This will minimise the burden on domestic clients who cannot reasonably be expected to have the knowledge or experience to carry out their CDM responsibilities. However, small contractors who work on domestic projects will need to ensure they are familiar with the duties of the client if they are to perform this role.

Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) to be replaced with HSE and Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) Industry Guidance

The HSE consultation conducted prior to the introduction of CDM 2015 found that the ACoP was not accessible and too lengthy. Consequently, the ACoP which accompanied the CDM 2007 will be revoked with effect from 6 April 2015 and replaced with HSE Legal (L) Series Guidance.

Changes to notification requirements

The requirements for notification of projects to the HSE will also change. The new regulations specify that a project is now to be notified to the HSE if the construction work on site is scheduled to:

  • exceed 30 construction working days, with 20 or more workers working simultaneously at any point during the project; or
  • if the project exceeds 500 person days.

Client’s Duties / “Explicit competence” requirements will be removed

Under the new regulations the duties of the client have been increased. The client will now need to ensure the individuals or organisations appointed to fulfil the role of designer, contractor, principal contractor and principal designer are able to demonstrate the ability to deliver the project whilst meeting all health and safety controls.

Contractual changes and Transitional Arrangements

The new regulations apply from 6 April 2015 but there are transitional arrangements which apply where there are existing contracts in place. For projects which have started on site by 6 April there is no requirement to amend existing contracts to refer to CDM 2015 or to appoint a principal designer once the regulations have come into force. For contracts which have not yet been entered into by the relevant parties with work starting after 6 April 2015; the documents should be amended to refer to and comply with the requirements of CDM 2015.

However, for projects which have already started on site on 6 April, which are likely to continue beyond 6 October 2015, the contracts will need to be changed from 6 October and a principal designer appointed in order to comply with the new regulations.


The 2007 regulations were widely perceived as being too complex, bureaucratic and costly to administer. It is hoped that the new regulations will provide duty holders with a simplified regulatory package, improved worker protection and less red tape. Time will tell if these aims have been achieved.

For more information, contact Michael Chilton.