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CDM: how will it affect you?

CDM - New health and safety regulations hit the construction industry in January. Here a client, a contractor and a consultant give their views on its impact.

The designer

THERE IS a mistaken belief that every harmful event that occurs on a building or civil engineering project can be traced back to a 'design' decision. That is true only if the de nition of design is vastly enhanced to include almost any decision taken, including constraints imposed by clients.

Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007 is an attempt by civil servants and their advisers to draft legislation that identi es the line that separates the 'baddies' from the 'goodies' in the construction process.

Designers have had little input into the drafting process. The 'experts' in their professional bodies are almost entirely those who have switched to health and safety as a profession.

It is now up to designers to take hold of the new regulations and the accompanying Approved Code of Practice and deliver creative change across our industry. The regulations have to be used as a framework for professionalism, not as an excuse for a paper trail of inept liability shedding.

Designers are missing out on the opportunities to engage properly with their clients, to communicate effectively with other members of the team and to assist in the delivery of successful projects.

Any designer or design practice who is using, as a standard response to CDM requirements, a numerical 'design risk assessment' has neither read the law properly nor understood what is asked of them.

Any contractor who does not challenge the lack of contribution of designers to safer, healthier projects is in no position to complain about the lack of engagement of the design community.

No planning supervisor/CDM co-ordinator who fails to understand the technical design, construction and managerial processes of the projects in which he is involved can discharge his duties to improve our industry's performance. They should instead be engaged in a different work activity.

The designer is the key to any project. He has the creative ideas and the management expertise in relation to early planning programming and engagement. He deals with complex ranges of solutions in a changing kaleidoscope of complex and conicting constraints. He co-ordinates the client's vision and project delivery.

The designer needs to regain his proper place in the scheme of project delivery. He needs to earn the right to be worth the fees he aspires to.

Liz Bennett, health and safety consultant

The client

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has described its revision of the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 1994 as 'evolution not revolution' with the intention of bringing clarity and addressing some of those things that hadn't quite worked as well as intended.

So how do they affect the client?

Clients must understand the difference between the application of these regulations and the appointment of duty holders who will take full responsibility for compliance until they are formally discharged.

The role of 'client's agent' has been removed from these regulations, preventing clients from transferring their statutory responsibilities under them.

There are claims that this will impact on the one-off and infrequent client. For notiable projects, they can rely on the support of the co-ordinator who will replace the planning supervisor under the revised regulations. The co-ordinator will advise the client on health and safety matters, but will not bear ultimate responsibility for accidents.

There are very minor changes to the designer's responsibilities on the designer except clarication. If they are designing a workplace they have specic duties to ensure their design complies with the Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations. This will aid the client with ensuring designs are usable and maintainable. But a word of caution - compliant does not mean practical!

Constructing Excellence with the Construction Clients Group has produced guidance to support the one-off and infrequent client.

The largest challenge facing the HSE is not the large client but the small, one-off and infrequent procurer of projects to which these regulations apply.

So has the underlying motivation been to bring clarity to support this section of the industry and aid in the application of these regulations, or has it been simply to ease enforcement?

This is not business as usual for clients - they must familiarise themselves with their duties under these regulations and understand the shift in their application.

Mark Poole, construction safety specialist, BBC

The contractor

Metronet's safety strategy is based upon what we call the 'Six Pillars of Safety and Assurance':

Safety leadership

Health management

Incident/injury investigation

Risk assessment

The way the job is done

Safety training And the 'Six Pillars of Assurance':

Competent staff at all grades

A clear organisation with clear roles and responsibilities

Good quality, clear and easily available asset or design information

Realistic and usable standards and procedures

Effective and helpful positive audit and surveillance

An effective performance measurement Metronet's approach is to integrate our supply chain into this safety strategy.

Doing this has led to good and sustained safety improvement both in our asset performance and asset renewals operations.

With this strategy we believe the existing regulations and the new revised regulations are straightforward.

When the regulations come in, our existing arrangements will be explained along with how we will revise them in light of the changes.

The challenge to us all is to achieve assurance, defined as doing the 'right things right, fi st time'. The Six Pillars of Assurance are designed to achieve this and will help to implement the new regulations effectively.

Ian Prosser, vice-president Health & Safety, Environment and Assurance, Metronet

Timeline

h2003: Health and Safety Commission (HSC) agrees to revise the construction regulations.

hMarch 2005: HSC publishes consultation document.

hMarch 2006: CDM guidance working group set up.

hOctober 2006: HSC approved CDM regulations.

h3 November 2006:

Deadline for ministerial response on new CDM.

hJanuary 2007: ACoP published.

h6 April 2007: regulations come into force.

Key role changes

Clients are accountable for the impact their approach has on project health and safety.

Co-ordinators are the key advisers to the client on competence and the adequacy of health and safety.

Designers must eliminate hazards and reduce risk from the start. Designs should be safe to construct, use and maintain.

Principal contractors must plan and manage the construction phase and co-ordinate activity on site.

Contractors must co-operate with each other and the principal contractor on co-ordination of work.

Learn more about the CDM regs revisions at NCE's Building Competency for CDM 2007 conference at Earls Court on 14 November. Keynote speaker is Health & Safety Executive head of construction policy Richard Boland. For more details go to www. nceplus. co. uk

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