Expert consultant says new legislation will put responsibility for safety firmly at feet of clients and designers.

Clients and designers will be forced to take increased responsibility for safety under revised CDM legislation, consultant Wakemans has warned.

Discussions on the proposed changes are still taking place, but the HSE has insisted that the revisions will reinforce the original intent of the 1994 Regulations and make it harder for clients and designers to ignore their safety obligations.

Wakemans divisional director Paul Stokes said: “The changes are intended to make it harder for clients and designers to pay lip service to the regulations. The proposals give further clarification of responsibilities and will make it easier for the HSE to identify and prosecute those that fail to fulfil such responsibilities.”

Current regulations require clients to appoint a planning supervisor at the outset of the project; under new regulations this is likely to be replaced by a CDM co-ordinator. Any designer appointed by the client will be liable if they begin any design work before the HSE has been notified that a co-ordinator has been appointed. Under the proposals, those in breach of this and other regulations will face a criminal rather than a civil conviction.

Stokes said: “Clients and designers who already have efficient procedures in place need have no fear of the new legislation. Clients and designers who fails to focus their minds on their responsibilities or who do not understand such responsibilities will need to seek professional advice and improve significantly.”

  • The HSE is prosecuting scaffolding company Crowe Plant Fabrication for alleged breaches of health and safety law. The prosecution follows the death of one employee and serious injury of another in 2002. The case will be heard at the Old Bailey next week.