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Viewpoint: Keeping up with safety

How CDM changes will affect our industry.

At last the long awaited Construction, Design and Management (CDM) 2015 Regulation consultation has been published, setting out proposed revisions to CDM 2007 with the aim of delivering regulations that are easier to understand, but retain vital safety protection. 

The ICE has been closely engaged in the process, firstly as a member of the Health & Safety Executive’s (HSE) Construction Industry Advisory Committee working group -contributing to the review of CDM 2007 through the health and safety panel’s CDM Three Years on report.

During this period the political landscape changed, with the drive to minimise legislation and strip it back to the bare minimum required by EU directives - and the ICE was a principal contributor to the Construction Industry Council report on the implications.

The proposals retain many familiar aspects: the importance of the client providing information, the principal contractor, construction phase plan, physical standards on site and health and safety file. Yet there are some fundamental changes proposed, the biggest being the demise of the CDM co-ordinator and the requirement for a principal designer. Other changes include the removal of explicit competence requirements and the domestic client exemption.

Controversially, it also proposes not to publish an approved code of practice but to publish HSE guidance, supported by a suite of industry written guidelines on which the ICE is already working. Overall the proposed regulations are shorter and, arguably, provide clarity. But what does that mean to civil engineers, and to the Institution?

The transition from the current project relationships and responsibilities to the proposed revised relationships will require commitment and demonstration of ability to discharge those responsibilities.

The client will have more responsibilities, and the HSE is proposing to withdraw a host of references to competence. Some will see this as a welcome reduction in pre-qualification requirements; others will question the wisdom and want reassurance.

The introduction of the proposed principal designer requires designers to take the lead, for which they need to have received adequate instruction, information and training. But how can they demonstrate this?

The consultation document states that: “The HSE believes that the competence of construction industry professionals should be overseen by, and be the responsibility of, the relevant professional bodies and institutions.”

The ICE has a clear requirement through professional development for members to demonstrate the necessary abilities and attributes to perform safely and without causing ill-health - and its health and safety register provides an effective means for this - you can apply to the register at Level 1 or Advanced Level.

I would encourage members to read the CDM 2015 Regulation consultation document, at www.hse.gov.uk/consult/condocs/cd261.htm and respond to the consultation by 6 June. The ICE’s health and safety panel would also welcome views to inform the Institution’s response, and an event will take place on 27 May at ICE to enable members to engage with this. To find out more email health&safety@ice.org.uk.

  • David Lambert is chair of the ICE’s health and safety expert panel

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