The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007

1 June, 2007
by: Cripps

Twelve years after they first came into force, the CDM Regulations 1994 have been replaced by the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. The CDM Regulations 2007 incorporate the Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996 which amended CDM 1994. CDM 2007 came into force on 6 April and make significant changes to the old Regulations.

It is generally considered that CDM 1994 were not as effective in improving health and safety on construction sites as had been hoped. There was too much emphasis on paperwork to show that people’s obligations had been complied with, and not enough practical application of measures to reduce accidents and save lives.

It is essential for everyone involved in, or advising on, construction, development or refurbishment work in Great Britain to understand CDM 2007. The Regulations apply to almost all construction projects and criminal sanctions apply to a breach. There is also limited civil liability.

CDM 2007 applies to projects that would not have been caught by CDM 1994, and they apply to projects even if they were begun before 6 April, although there are transitional provisions for these projects.

CDM 2007 puts the client at the centre of duties and liabilities for construction health and safety to a greater extent than CDM 1994 did. It is important that one-off clients are aware of their duties. The Health and Safety Executive published summary guides on the responsibilities of the duty holders under CDM 1994, and it intends to offer additional guidance to one-off clients and small businesses on CDM 2007.

It is no longer possible for a client to nominate an agent to be the “client” for the purposes of the Regulations but, where there is more than one client, the clients may elect in writing that one of them is to be treated as the main client and, as such, is to be responsible for most of the clients’ duties. A client, who has taken part in a written election and is not the main client, must still comply with the clients’ obligations to provide information and documents they possess to those involved in the construction works.

The other duty holders under CDM 2007 are designers, contractors, the principal contractor and the CDM Co-ordinator (the new name for the old misleadingly-named planning supervisor). A client only needs to appoint a CDM co-ordinator and a principal contractor where a project is notifiable. The test for this has changed, and a project is now notifiable if it is likely to involve either more than 30 days of construction work or more than 500 person days of construction work. This means that nearly all commercial projects will be notifiable.

Whether or not a project is notifiable, as well as having individual duties, all duty holders must address the issue of health and safety competence, co-operate and co-ordinate with one another, and apply the principles of prevention set out in the Approved Code of Practice: “Managing health and safety in construction” published by the Health and Safety Commission. These duties are intended to allow pro-active enforcement of the Regulations by the Health and Safety Executive. The Approved Code of Practice sets out in detail how the Regulations may be complied with, and it is an important document as it has a special status. Unless there is clear evidence to the contrary, compliance with the ACoP will generally be accepted as evidence that the Regulations have been complied with. If the ACoP is not complied with, a duty holder must provide evidence of how it complied with the Regulations in a different way.


Whether or not a project is notifiable, clients must: manage arrangements, collate and supply information, and give time for preparation and planning. Where a project is notifiable, in addition, clients must: appoint a CDM co-ordinator and a principal contractor; ensure that a construction phase plan is in place before construction begins; and provide information for the health and safety file and ensure that the file is maintained after construction. If a client does not appoint a CDM co-ordinator and a principal contractor, the client must carry out the CDM co-ordinator’s and the principal contractor’s duties itself.


Whether or not a project is notifiable, designers must: not commence work unless the client is aware of the requirements of CDM 2007; make design information available to all the other duty holders; take into account the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992; and do their best to avoid foreseeable risks to health and safety. Where a project is notifiable, in addition, designers must: not commence detailed design work until the CDM co-ordinator is appointed; ensure that any initial design work, carried out before the CDM co-ordinator is appointed, is carried out in accordance with the designers’ duties; and co-operate with the CDM co-ordinator.


Whether or not a project is notifiable, contractors must: comply with various duties before starting work and comply with various duties associated with training workers and ensuring that they are competent. Where a project is notifiable, in addition, before starting work, contractors must: know the identity of the CDM co-ordinator and the principal contractor; read, understand and carry out their construction work in accordance with a sufficiently detailed construction phase plan; check that the project is properly notified to the Health and Safety Executive; and co-operate closely with the principal contractor.

CDM co-ordinator

A CDM co-ordinator is required only on a notifiable project. The CDM co-ordinator must: prepare the health and safety file; advise and assist the client to help it meet the client’s duties; make arrangements and take all reasonable steps to see that duty holders comply with their general duties to co-operate and co-ordinate; liaise with the principal contractor regarding the health and safety file, the construction phase plan and design development; identify and collect relevant project information and share it; and notify the project to the Health and Safety Executive.

Principal contractor

A principal contractor is required only on a notifiable project and is likely to be the main contractor. A principal contractor’s duties relate primarily to the construction phase of a project. The principal contractor’s role is to plan, manage and monitor the construction phase to ensure that, as far as reasonably practicable, the project is carried out without risk to health and safety.

Clients, contractors and the principal contractor each have a duty to ensure that site welfare requirements are met on construction sites. These requirements are in Schedule 2 to the Regulations and require sites to provide toilets, washing facilities, drinking water, changing rooms and lockers, and rest facilities.

The Regulations contain additional “Part 4” duties which are owed by contractors and any person who controls construction work including, for example, a client who imposes controls on how work is performed on site; an occupier who insists on a design feature which affects the construction work; and a bank providing development finance which insists on being consulted on key design or construction decisions, or whose consent is needed before a phase of construction work begins. These duties are limited to complying with Part 4 of the Regulations in so far as they affect the contractor or person exercising control or person carrying out construction work under their control, or they relate to matters within their control. The Part 4 duties deal with a range of matters, for example, site security, stability of structures, demolition, explosives, excavations, drowning, traffic and vehicles, fire and emergency procedures and routes, fresh air and lighting.

It is to be hoped that CDM 2007 plays its part in successfully reducing the number of accidents and deaths on construction sites.

Reviewed in 2015