Industry responds to the introduction of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations
Changes to the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations come into force from today, April 6.
The changes have been designed to place a broader remit of responsibility on clients to ensure health and safety arrangements are in place.
They are also intended to cut the amount of paperwork involved with the former regulations, in favour of focussed planning and management.
No, I don’t think designers are prepared for the changeover.
The changed regulations have been put together by the Health and Safety Executive after broad consultation with industry heads and trade bodies.
However, opinion on the new regulations – and the industry’s readiness for them – differs. Here are some of them:
Stephen Williams, head of construction at the Health and Safety Executive, said: “The industry has worked very closely with HSE to revise the CDM Regulations and ensure that there are clear benefits for all competent dutyholders."
Underlying all the changes is one simple aim - to reduce the unacceptable number of fatalities and injuries in the construction industry.
"The Regulations clarify responsibilities of each duty holder and require greater focus on the risks to be managed by all involved in the construction process. Underlying all the changes is one simple aim - to reduce the unacceptable number of fatalities and injuries in the construction industry.”
John Heath, health and safety consultant at Morgan Safety Services, said: “I’ve been lecturing on CDM at Riba since 1994. No, I don’t think designers are prepared for the changeover. They are too comfortable with the paperwork, and it will continue to be generated because they are concerned about liability. Criminal law no longer requires anything like the paperwork we are producing, but designers will still think ‘I have to make sure we have sufficient evidence if things go wrong.’ It’s no longer needed."
"Other than that, I don’t think the designers role has changed that much. One question the HSE hasn’t addressed is where CDM co-ordinators are going to come from. With the greater emphasis on health and safety qualifications, I think fewer design organisations are going to offer the service than offered the planning supervisor service."
Many small companies and one-off clients won’t be aware of their duties under the new regulations
"I only know of one architect who will be offering it. Co-ordinators will need to come from an engineering background instead, but why would they change careers when the industry is as booming as it is?”
James Preston-Hood, chair of health and safety, Construction Clients Group said: “It’s important to remember that these regulations are not just for the construction industry. There are specific challenges for businesses whose core business isn’t in construction or health and safety. Many small companies and one-off clients won’t be aware of their duties under the new regulations."
"If they own a fish and chip shop or a garage they’re not going to have the system arrangements in place. It’s wholly unrealistic to expect them to. Will the 4.3m businesses in Britain be aware of measures designed by the construction industry? We say no.”
Scare-mongering about inexperienced clients going to jail, that’s just nonsense.
John Carpenter, health and safety consultant to ICE and HSE: “If you’re looking for good business tools, then you can’t do much better than the regulations. They provide safety and productivity, and what do managers want beyond that?"
"I don’t think the industry is ready for the changes. My guess is very few people have seen the Approved Code of Practice, and some won’t even be aware of the regulations changing. I think within the industry there’s the tendency to keep your eyes on the workstation, so to speak, without looking at the bigger picture."
"I have sympathy with the client groups’ concerns, but I think there has been some over-reaction. Scare-mongering about inexperienced clients going to jail, that’s just nonsense. Health and safety advice is out there, and it can come from several different sources. Very little has changed."
"My problem with the added responsibility for the client is it paints the [construction] industry in a poor light. The HSE’s reason for doing it is to put the responsibility where the money is. The message is, ‘we can’t trust the contractors, so we’ll bring the client in to show them how it’s done’. I think it’s a sad reflection on the industry.”