The Health & Safety Executive's proposals to replace the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM 2007) are out for consultation now. What could the changes suggested mean for FMs?
8 May 2014
The proposed regulations would implement in Great Britain the requirements of EU directive 92/57/EEC on minimum health & safety requirements at temporary or mobile construction sites.
Between 45 per cent and 60 per cent of fatal and major injury accidents on construction projects take place on refurbs and minor work, many of which are not subject to notification to the HSE.
Yet the HSE's chief inspector of construction, Heather Bryant, following a site visit to a recent fatality in London warned that "deaths and injuries on UK building sites could increase as the industry comes out of the downturn".
The Health & Safety Executive says the proposed CDM changes are to improve worker protection, and deliver significant savings to businesses. The HSE says it wants to make it easier for employers, particularly those working on small projects, to understand what's required of them.
The body wants to get these changes right with a minimal burden on business. But the real measure of success will be whether clients and other duty holders give health & safety the priority it demands. This requires decisive leadership within each organisation from the top management.
Most clients' core business is not construction and is outsourced to construction professionals such as project managers, architects, civil, M&E and structural engineers from consultancy organisations and a contractor to manage and deliver the project.
While the landlord or occupier in turn will do the same for changes to its portfolio and buildings, property or facilities managers are usually responsible for managing it on behalf of landlord or user. The key proposed changes to CDM FMs need to take notice of include:
- Some additional client duties;
- Replacement of the CDM co-ordinator role with a new role of principal designer;
- Application of co-ordination duties required earlier;
- Introduction of a duty on information, instruction, training and supervision to replace the duty to assess competence;
- The threshold of notifiable projects is slightly altered;
- A construction phase plan is required on all projects (from the principal contractor);
- The placement of client duties for domestic projects with the first appointee;
- No transition or phasing-in period, so existing projects that are to be completed after April 2015 must fully comply;
- Removal of the domestic client exemption and transfer of these limited duties to the contractor/designer; and
- Replacement of the Approved Code of Practice (ACoP).
Current CDM regulations provide a framework to manage health & safety for all construction work. Under the regulations the wide definition of such work includes:
- Alteration, conversion, fitting out, commissioning, renovation, repair, upkeep, redecoration, some types of cleaning methods and demolition;
- Preparatory work - site clearance, exploration and investigation (not site surveys);
- Assembly of prefabricated elements to form a structure; and
- The installation, commissioning, maintenance, repair or removal of mechanical, electrical, gas or other installations, which are normally fixed within a building.
These rules have encouraged an integrated approach to planning and management from the design onwards. They stipulate minimum standards of health & safety provisions required during the building phase, consolidating the earlier CDM 1994 and Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996.
It has helped improve culture on medium-to-large projects and cut reportable accidents before the recession. But this has sadly not been the case with small construction, refurbishment and plant replacement projects, which are disproportionately represented in the serious and fatal injury profile of the industry.
It is also said CDM 2007 requirements go beyond the Temporary or Mobile Construction Sites Directive (TMCSD) in a number of ways. The most significant of these is the area of competence.
For changes to an existing building FMs normally procure an architect first, followed where necessary by specialists to carry out specific work such as asbestos R&D surveys, and employ other designers and a contractor. When the project is found to be notifiable to the HSE the FM may take on the role of the CDM co-ordinator or outsource to another individual or organisation to fulfil that role.
What could change
If changes go through as stated there is risk of a misunderstanding as to whether or not a principal designer and a principal contractor is appointed or not, and whether the scheme is notifiable to the HSE.
FMs as principal designers
FMs may need to prove they have suitable training to fulfil such legal duties (NEBOSH construction certificate or higher, and evidence of training on their latest H&S-CDM procedures). And with 2016 fast approaching, building information modelling (BIM) training will be help with the core requirements of the principal designer's duties.
The CDM document says "HSE believes that the competence of construction professionals should be overseen by... the relevant professional bodies and institutions". That is an opportunity for BIFM and its members with other professional bodies to get together with the HSE to set the bar.
The consultation process is open for responses until 6 June 2014.
The full document can be found at www.hse.gov.uk/consult/condocs/cd261.htm
Stephen Coppin, principal consultant, Parsons Brinckerhoff