Meeting legislative requirements can be costly in both time and money. Suffering an accident, fatality and resulting prosecution can be even more so. Finding a balance of what is reasonable can be challenging. Lauren Paines looks at the benefits of the CDM regs and how they are applied practically. 

The regulations

The CDM Regulations 2007 which replace the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994 and revoke and re-enact the Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996 (Part 4), change the way in which construction projects work, especially in terms of encompassing safety into design and the changing the communication processes involved.

The regs change the role of the planning supervisor to the CDM coordinator (CDMC) and place additional responsibilities on parties within the construction process, including the client, principal contractor, sub-contactors etc.

Construction projects themselves have to change to really consider the past, present and future health, safety and welfare. By this I mean that:

  • the past use of the site has to be considered (the land uses etc)
  • the building project itself is heavily scrutinized to meet expected standards
  • the way the building will be used, once construction is finished (how are people going to change the lightbulbs, wash the windows and take out their rubbish) must be factored into the original plans
  • what will happen if this building is demolished in the future - needs to be detailed.

This means considering the environment too, from the point of demolishing the old building and building the new one, to the point of demolishing that one many years down the line. It is a cyclical process that really works as a process within a life cycle.

The CDMC role is also a big change, but an essential one. Construction projects finally have a real tangible route and rule of communication from the day the project is dreamt up through to completion and beyond. The CDMC acts as the coordinator between all of the parties or duty holders, making sure that each is aware of his/her responsibilities and that all of this is documented.

What does this really mean?

So, this all sounds great in essence but, practically, is it happening? And are those who are not running their construction sites like slick operations being enforced or prosecuted accordingly?

Well, the construction industry has certainly taken a huge economic hit in the years following the changes to the CDM regs. And, we all know that in times of financial decline it is often the ‘luxuries’ that go first. Whilst meeting legislative requirement shouldn’t be seen as a luxury, it’s a must; the construction industry has always suffered the pressures of meeting budgets and timescales accordingly. CDMCs aren’t cheap and neither is factoring in health and safety to every aspect of design.

The fact, however is, that accidents, prosecutions and downtime is far more costly in the long run than allowing for safety in a budget. Plus it is just plain and simple common sense and good practice.

The CDM regs haven’t seen many prosecutions (as it always takes a long time to filter through – just look at the Corporate Manslaughter and Homicide Act). However the HSE have been noticeably enforcing the regs out on site, (IMHO) very fairly and very productively.

So, yes if you don’t follow the rules, you risk getting a slap on the wrist, and possibly more. But the term ‘reasonably practicable’ is there for a reason. Everything is taken into account, from the size of your company, the budget that you have and the time you can put towards these measures. So think reasonable steps and think about planning. Have a health and safety goal of where you want to be, and some ideas about how to get there. Be realistic, ensure you know and understand the legislation and never bury your head in the sand. It’s just not worth it.

If you are interested in learning more about the CDM regulations and how these may be changing, why not attend the Barbour Webinar in October.