The changes to the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations (CDM2015) came into effect on 6th April 2015. The new regulations represent a significant shift in the health and safety management of all stages of the project lifecycle fromprocurement through to completion.


  • The Health & Safety Executive’s proposed changes to the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations came into effect on 6th April 2015 and introduced significant changes including:
  • Extending the scope of the regulations to include domestic clients;
  • Removing the role of the CDM Coordinator;
  • Introducing a new duty holder - the principal designer:
  • Enhanced duties on the Client;
  • Appointment of a principal designer and principal contractor if more than one contractor is on site; and
  • Changing the HSE project notification threshold.

Who is a Client?

CDM 2015 defines a client as anyone for whom a construction project is carried out and the new regulations now apply to both domestic and commercial clients. A commercial client is an organisation or individual for whom a construction project is carried out in connection with a business, whether the business operates for profit or not. Examples of commercial clients are schools, retailers and landlords.

You are a domestic client if you are having work carried out which is not connected with running a business. Usually this means arranging for work to be carried out on the property where you or afamily member lives.

What is the Role of the Client?

CDM2015 places responsibility for managing thehealth and safety of a construction project onthree main duty holders. The client has overallresponsibility for the successful management ofthe project and is supported by the principaldesigner and principal contractor in differentphases of the project. For the successful deliveryof a project, good working relationships betweenthe duty holders are essential from the start:

  • The client ensures that the construction project is set up so that it is carried out from start to finish in a way that adequately controls the risks to the health and safety of those who may be affected;
  • The principal designer manages health and safety in the pre-construction phase of a project. The role extends to the construction phase through the principal designer's duties to liaise with the principal contractor and ongoing design work; and
  • The principal contractor manages the construction phase of a project. This involves liaising with the client and principal designer throughout the project, including during the pre-construction phase.

Increased H&S responsibilities for Clients

The CDM Coordinator role was previously the Client’s key safety adviser. Removal of the role is likely to have a significant impact on project safety governance. If you are a CDM client, in the future you will be responsible for:

  • Notifying the HSE of the project particulars and confirming that they are aware of their duties;
  • Appointing a principal designer and principal contractor;
  • Ensuring duty holders comply with their duties;
  • Providing the pre-construction information;
  • Ensuring that the minimum health and safetystandards are maintained on site;
  • Ensuring that the Construction Phase healthand safety plan is drawn up by the principalcontractor; and
  • Ensuring that a health and safety file isproduced by the principal designer.

What do Clients need to do in future?

If as a client, you have your own in-house expertise on construction health and safety management you should have the necessary competence to perform your duties under CDM2015 without any external assistance. However when you are considering commissioning a construction project you should ask yourselves a number of questions, for example:

  • Would you know whether the designers, and the principal designer, are properly coordinating their designs?
  • Are you familiar with the ‘general principles of prevention’?
  • Are you up to date with current standards, materials, equipment and processes to eliminate and reduce risks?
  • Do you know what should be provided as part of the Pre-Construction Information?
  • Would you be able to assess the effectiveness of the management arrangements and systems of work?
  • Would you be able to recognise a suitably developed Construction Phase Plan? and
  • Are you familiar with the content and format of the Health and Safety File?

If any of the above questions result in a negative response, you should seriously consider seeking professional advice and assistance.

How can Royal HaskoningDHV help?

Clear leadership, ownership and partnership to ensure suitable management arrangements for construction projects from procurement to completion will be key to the client achieving adequate health and safety controls under CDM2015.

With over 125 years of experience in the field, our experienced professionals have a proven track record and the depth of knowledge to help you navigate the changes that the new regulations will bring and can provide help and advice on all aspects of construction health and safety risk management ranging from Coastal and Rivers to Infrastructure, Transport and Building.

As principal designer we will plan, manage and monitor the co-ordination of the pre-construction phase of your projects, including any preparatory work carried out for your project, including:

  • assisting you in identifying, obtaining andcollating the pre-construction information;
  • providing pre-construction information todesigners, principal contractor andcontractors;
  • ensuring that designers comply with theirduties and co-operate with each other;
  • liaising with the principal contractor for theduration of your appointment; and
  • preparing the health and safety file.

As principal designer or alternatively as an independent Project Safety Advisor we can also provide you with assistance with discharging your expanded client duties, covering programme, CDM management, HSE notifications, independent monitoring of CDM compliance and site health and safety arrangements.