Philip Harris' article on the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (14 March, page 54) is an interesting approach to the question of how to enforce what he calls "unpopular and ineffective legislation". But if CDM is unpopular, who is going to bother enforcing it if the Health and Safety Executive does not do so? He suggests that compliance with CDM should be made a contractual matter, so the employer could sue for breach of contract if the contractor or a designer does not follow the regulations. A good idea, but would it work?

Most building contracts already contain an obligation to comply with all "statutory requirements", as the JCT puts it. That includes the CDM Regulations. Employers are not rushing to use that provision to sue the contractor, though. Why not? Probably because a breach of the CDM rules does not cause the employer any loss. It is the contractor's own employees, or those of the subcontractors, who are most at risk – and they already have rights under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 if they are injured.

The HSE has a vested interested in health and safety that employers often do not have. It is therefore best placed to bring prosecutions under the CDM Regulations.