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Time to grow up: CDM 2007 is an opportunity for industry says Keith Clarke

No one can be proud of an industry that kills and maims people. And construction kills and maims people. Still.

That is just not acceptable.

CDM 2007 is a chance for all professionals and particularly designers to change the health and safety record of our industry. We can switch from a defensive view of health and safety that is about protecting ourselves from rising professional indemnity insurance premiums or the risk of prosecution to a positive approach that uses creativity to make designs safer to construct and maintain.

CDM 2007 is a move away from a set of rules to be followed blindly and used to deect blame to a culture that uses our skills to make sites safer. And we do that by providing the right information, to the right people, in the right way at the right time.

These new CDM regulations are good government. They are not about paperwork or paper trails or ticking boxes but visualising how we get to the desired result safely. They are intellectually brave government because they expect us as a mature industry to work out for ourselves what is needed to improve our record.

Construction umbrella group the Construction Industry Council (CIC) believes that improving industry's record on health and safety is an integral part of the work the bodies it represents should be doing.

Its standing committee on health and safety has adopted as its core rationale that we expect everyone to strive to exceed the legal minimum.

Whether implementation of the regulations is delayed or not does not matter. We should be adopting the approach they recommend anyway and go beyond it.

It is for us as an industry to give clients what they need rather than ask clients to let us do it.

The challenge ahead is to make sure we don't make paper out of this as we have done before. And to trust the help the Health & Safety Executive is offering. Let's not waste that offer.

CDM 2007 won't cure design quality issues or problems with clients not understanding what they want. What it will do is remove the need to create a pile of parallel paperwork that has added no value and focus us on dealing with the substantive issue that people building do so with the right information to do it safely.

Let's get on with it.

Keith Clarke is chair of the CIC standing committee on health and safety and chief executive of Atkins.

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