Why Does the HSE Wish to Remove the CDM Coordinator?

David Carr provides some insight into what may be in the revised CDM regulatory package due to come into force in 2015.


HSEThe Government policy of 'copy out' from European Directives requires any change to existing Directive-based legislation to comply with this policy unless there are strong arguments for doing otherwise. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has stated that the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM) should be revised based on 'copy out' from the Temporary or Mobile Constructions Sites Directive 92/57/EEC (TMCSD). However, the package should avoid a reduction in standards, retain those aspects that add value or enhance them, particularly in regulating smaller projects.

The concerns expressed here are based on what is likely to be in the revised regulatory package, as the consultation document has yet to be issued. The consultation period, which was due to commence in June 2013, has still not commenced.

It is understood that the earliest that the revised regulatory package will now come into force is in 2015.

Proposed alternative to the CDM Coordinator

It is understood that, along with other changes, the HSE wish to remove the requirement for a CDM Coordinator (CDMC) to be appointed on notifiable projects from the Regulations. Given that the TMCSD requires someone to coordinate the health and safety aspects during design and planning, the proposed regulations need someone to do this, even if it is not a CDMC.

The title of this new duty holder is understood to be Principal Designer (PD). Whatever this organisation/person is called, they are likely to have similar duties to the existing CDM coordinator.

CDM Coordinator's Current Duties and Role

The duties of the CDMC are primarily to perform the function of the 'coordinator for safety and health matters at the project preparations stage' required by the TMCSD.

The CDMC is only required on notifiable projects, where the construction phase is 30+ working days or will involve 500+ person days/shifts.

The main duties, and an assessment of the effect of changing the CDMC to PD, are as follows:

Notify the project to the HSE, could be performed by the Client or the CDMC/PD, as it is only an administrative function.

Advise and assist the client with engaging or appointing competent and adequately resourced organisations. It is unlikely that the Principal Designer would be in a position to be able to provide this advice without any potential conflict of interest and potential issues relating to competence outside their normal design role.

Assist the client with ensuring that suitable management arrangements are maintained. The CDMC is the Client's friend, and assists the client with this monitoring function, providing independent advice on the performance of the designers and contractors. If the replacement for the CDMC is part of a designer organisation, it is not clear how this advice will be independent.

Identify and collect the pre-construction information and provide it designers, the principal contractor and other contractors, which could be performed by the lead designer (PD) or the Client, but independent advice on what is needed, as supplied by the CDMC, is appreciated by Clients.

Advise the client on the sufficiency of the time allocations. Independent advice on whether enough time and other resources have been allowed for by the Client, the Designers and/or the Contractors is also useful for the Client and for the efficiency of the project delivery.

Ensure that the design complies with the requirements of the regulations, and that the designers cooperate and coordinate their designs. Lead designers may be in a good position to ensure that the design is coordinated for the designers who are either part of their organisation or a sub-consultant, but what about other designers either directly engaged by the Client, or by Contractors who have design responsibilities?

If the lead designer is the PD, will they properly ensure design compliance and coordination? There is also the possibility if a design requires changing due to an interface issue, the PD is unlikely to be the designer who effects these changes, due to costs and inconvenience to them.

Ensure that the designers and the principal contractor (PC) cooperate, particularly for any design performed during construction, which could cause conflict between the PD and the PC; which is not the case if the CDMC ensures cooperation.

Assist the client with verifying the sufficiency of the construction phase plan to commence construction and the adequacy of the welfare provisions. If this duty is to be performed by the PD, someone in the designers' organisation will need to have a better than normal understanding of construction methods and safe systems of work to be able to perform this assessment of the PC's proposals.

Preparation of the health and safety file could be done by either the PD or the PC, or even the Client, but it is a concern that the contractor will just produce as-built, operational and maintenance information for the file and the designer will just produce design information for the file, as they do currently. This may not fully address the health and safety issues for the future use, maintenance, repair and eventual dismantling or demolition.


There has been criticism of the performance of CDMCs in the past, but also some accepted exemplary performances. The HSE seem to prefer to change the name of a duty holder, rather than addressing the real issues of competence and performance of this important function on a construction project.

There has been criticism, some of it justified, of the performance of CDMCs in the past, but also some accepted exemplary performances. The HSE seem to prefer to change the name o

The HSE propose that the replacement for the CDMC should be either part of the client or the architect/lead designer organisation. This, as described above, may present a conflict of interest.f a duty holder, rather than addressing the real issues of competence and performance of this important function on a construction project.


There also appears to be some reluctance of architects and consultants to take on this duty, due to a reasonable concern that this will involve them in accepting additional criminal liability. Some have also stated that they are concerned about their competence and resources, to perform these duties. Due to this, it is likely that if this proposal becomes law, the architects and consultants will sub-contract the performance of these duties to another organisation, probably ones that are currently providing the services of CDMCs.

It is this author's opinion that the proposal to remove the CDMC from the regulations is a retrograde step and could significantly reduce the health and safety performance of the construction industry. It is also more likely to increase overall construction project costs, rather than reduce them, and is entirely unwelcome during this time of recovery from a protracted recession.


David Carr, Managing Director

Callsafe Services


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