The new CDM regulations come into force tomorrow. In this special, Christopher Pedder explains how the new rules will promote partnering ...

We all work in an industry that is undergoing a sustained move towards collaborative working – you only have to look at the guidance being issued in relation to government-procured works to see this. This agenda is also being taken forward under new health and safety legislation.

We are all aware that the CDM regulations 1994 will be replaced by the CDM regulations 2007 on 6 April. The 2007 version seeks to improve health and safety by encouraging everyone involved in a project to work together to improve planning and management from the start, to identify risks early on and to target efforts where they can do most good. CDM 2007 therefore encourages collaborative working.

There is an emphasis on the integration of the project team and the co-ordination of activities. Every duty holder under CDM 2007 will be expected to co-operate with other members of the project team and to co-ordinate their activities in a manner that ensures, as far as is practicable, the health and safety of persons either carrying out or affected by the work.

For there to be meaningful co-operation and co-ordination, the Approved Code of Practice points out that members of the project team must be appointed early enough to allow them to make a real contribution to the design and construction process, as well as to help in risk reduction.

Credit: Simone Lia
"C'mere - it's time for a 'health and safety' group hug."

Early contractor involvement is encouraged by the fact that clients will be expected to appoint principal contractors as soon as they know enough about the project to be able to select a suitable company.

There is also an emphasis on programming. Clients will be expected to tell tendering contractors the minimum amount of time they will have for planning and preparation before construction work starts on site. Clients must also give the successful contractor sufficient time after appointment to plan the work, mobilise equipment and staff, and allow the project to proceed safely.

Every person working under the control of another will be required to report to that person any defect they believe may endanger health and safety

Pre-construction phase programming will be needed to enable the client to comply with this requirement.

The CDM co-ordinator will be expected to facilitate good communication and co-operation between project team members and, where they consider there is not sufficient co-operation, to convene special meetings to resolve issues – essentially if an early warning process is needed.

Another manifestation of the early warning system is the requirement that every person working under the control of another is required to report any defect that they believe may endanger health and safety.

Enhanced obligations about the provision of information will also facilitate working in a collaborative and integrated manner. These include the client providing the pre-construction information to the potential team and details of the mobilisation period, the designers providing information about aspects of the design that will allow other members of the project team to comply with their obligations under CDM 2007, and principal contractors and contractors doing the same for individual workers.

The PPC, TPC and NEC contracts all have a project management emphasis that will assist teams in complying with CDM 2007. PPC in particular caters for early contractor involvement and an entire project programme.

For those schemes that are procured on a different basis, teams should consider:

  • Allowing for earlier contractor involvement, perhaps by a conditional pre-construction phase appointment
  • Including provisions covering the preparation of a phase programme that sets out the mobilisation period
  • Including early warning provisions to reflect the requirements of CDM 2007.
These CDM regulations undoubtedly have a more practical focus. Acknowledging that the best time to deal with health and safety is at the preparatory stage should give everyone in the team confidence that health and safety issues are being dealt with.