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Official construction safety guidance backed by engineers

Engineers have backed moves to force clients to appoint a ‘principal designer’ to manage health and safety aspects of a project at pre-construction stage.

The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) welcomed the Construction, Design and Management (CDM) regulations 2015 guidance update.

The new regulations came into force this week, and the Health and Safety Executive’s guidance note set out each party’s responsibilities on a project.

ICE health and safety expert panel chair Margaret Sackey said: “The Government’s CDM regulations represent one of many constituent parts of the UK’s wider health and safety context.

“ICE had a privileged position in influencing the final version of the 2015 regulations. We are therefore pleased to see that health and safety will play a bigger role in the design process, requiring the principle designer to lead on the health and safety aspects of a project, rather than just deferring to a health and safety expert.”

The guidance note said a principal designer must be appointed by a client in projects involving more than one contractor. The principal designer can be an organisation or an individual with sufficient knowledge, experience and ability to carry out the role, it added.

Duties include planning, managing, monitoring and coordinating health and safety in the pre-construction phase of a project.

Principal designers should also provide relevant information to a principal contractor to help it plan, manage, monitor and coordinate health and safety in the construction phase.

ICE urged the the Health and Safety Executive to produce an Approved Code of Practice for meeting the new laws.

Sackey said: “ICE strongly advises that HSE, through the Construction Industry Council, enshrines an Approved Code of Practice.

“This will bring clarity on specific issues, and help reduce bureaucracy by defining the limits of required action.”

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