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New CDM regulations criticised over lack of clarity for designers

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DESIGNERS WILL be left uncertain of their role under the new Construction Design Management (CDM) regulations as they lack clarity, warned a leading health and safety expert this week.

Capita Symonds' director of health and safety Martin Barnard said the new regulations could also create additional bureaucracy for companies in proving their competency to carry out work, despite the revision being intended to simplify the process.

His comments come after the Health & Safety Commission (HSE) last week approved changes to the regulations and sent them to ministers for approval.

Standing Committee on Structural Safety secretary John Carpenter, who has written guidance for the designer's role, said that the new regulations are largely the same as the old, drawing a few changes from existing legislation to create a more joined-up system.

But Barnard warned that designers will continue to separate out the task of meeting the CDM regulations from the daily design routine.

'Tasks such as design risk assessment should not be treated as a separate box-ticking exercise. It needs to be brought into the daily design, ' he said.

Carpenter said the new guidance tries to integrate the responsibilities of the designer into normal business routines, adding that the industry has been hindered by cynicism towards regulation. 'This is a chance to wipe the slate clean, get rid of the cynicism and see if we can't weave this into our business.' The HSE had the right approach to modifying the regulations, said Barnard, however, he believed that the issue of competency is its biggest weakness.

Carpenter explained that the new regulations require a single document that proves a company is competent to carry out work in its chosen eld, which can be given to clients without having to be tailored to suit individual projects.

Barnard said: 'The effort to try and spell it [competency] out could make it too complicated for any industry to deal with.

Competency, which is just one word, requires umpteen pages to describe it, ' he said.

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.

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