Duties of Designers
CDM (GB) Knowledge Base
In CDM the term "Designer" has a very broad meaning and includes anyone who prepares design drawings and design details, or who specifies the use of a particular method of work, or material. This provides the potential for anyone to become a designer by default. People included could be;
- Civil and structural engineers
- Building surveyors
- Building service designers
- Landscape architects
- Interior designers and shop fitters
- Temporary works engineers
- Heritage organisations who specify how work is to be done
- Anyone purchasing materials where the choice has been left open
Regulation 9 of the CDM2015 guidance states:-
- A designer must not commence work in relation to a project unless satisfied that the client is aware of the duties owed by the client under these Regulations.
- When preparing or modifying a design the designer must take into account the general principles of prevention and any pre-construction information to eliminate, so far as is reasonably practicable, foreseeable risks to the health or safety of any person-
- carrying out or liable to be affected by construction work;
- maintaining or cleaning a structure; or
- using a structure designed as a workplace.
- If it is not possible to eliminate these risks, the designer must, so far as is reasonably practicable-
- take steps to reduce or, if that is not possible, control the risks through the subsequent design process;
- provide information about those risks to the principal designer; and
- ensure appropriate information is included in the health and safety file.
- A designer must take all reasonable steps to provide, with the design, sufficient information about the design, construction or maintenance of the structure, to adequately assist the client, other designers and contractors to comply with their duties under these Regulations.
Why Designers have a Key Role in Health & Safety
Designers have a key role to play in CDM2015 as they are in a unique position to reduce the risks that arise during construction work. The earlier that decisions are made by them, the greater will be the affect on construction health and safety and the influence of later design choices. It is vital to consider health and safety in the design process from the outset.
Designers often consider health and safety in their designs by utilising the 'Hierarchy of Risk Control' during the design process. This process allows them to eliminate or mitigate risks to health and safety within their designs. Where it is not possible to eliminate particular risks, information about them must be passed to the Principal Contractor for inclusion in the Construction Phase Plan.
In arriving at design decisions concerning risk, the designer can take account of the costs of eliminating, or including, a design feature. These costs can be counted not just in financial terms but, for instance, in aesthetics, buildability, fitness for purpose, and environmental impact.
Designers' responsibilities extend beyond the design phase. They need to consider the safety of those people who maintain, clean, repair and eventually demolish their structures.
Duties of Designers - Checklist
The designers' duties on all construction projects are to:
- Ensure that the client is aware of the client's duties prior to commencing any design work.
- Ensure that personnel allocated to their design team from internal resources are competent and adequately resourced.
- Ensure that any designers or contractors that are engaged on the project are competent and adequately resourced.
- Ensure that the design and the designers' duties are complied with by any designers engaged by them, including any designers who are based outside Great Britain.
- Eliminate or reduce safety and health risks to constructors, users, maintainers, repairers, commissioners, testers, cleaners, demolishers, etc. when preparing the design.
- Co-operate and communicate with other designers, including temporary works designers, to ensure adequate co-ordination of the design.
- Provide information about the risks which cannot be satisfactorily addressed by their designs to the client, other designers and contractors.
On notifiable projects the designers' additional duties are to:
- Verify that the project has been notified and that the Principal Designer has been appointed as soon as possible after commencement of initial or preliminary design.
- Co-operate with the Principal Designer for the verification of design and designer compliance and the co-ordination of the design.
- Provide any information requested by the Principal Designer for the health and safety file.
Ensure that the client is aware of the client's duties
The designer has an absolute duty under CDM2015 to ensure that the client is aware of the client's duties prior to commencing any design work. This should be first thing that a designer does on first contact with the client and must be performed for all construction work. Whether the project is notifiable and the additional duties that this would cause the client to perform, would usefully be discussed at this time.
Competence and resources
Any design organisation has an absolute duty to ensure that personnel allocated to their design team from internal resources are competent and adequately resourced. This would apply to both employees and agency personnel employed on the project.
Designers who sub-contract design or arrange design work on the project to a designer who is based outside Great Britain has an absolute duty to ensure that the design and the designers' duties are performed in compliance with CDM2015. If the designer who sub-contracts or arranges design work outside Great Britain is themselves not located within Great Britain, the client must verify compliance.
Eliminate or reduce risks by design
So far as is reasonably practicable, the designer should eliminate or reduce safety and health risks to constructors, users, maintainers, repairers, commissioners, testers, cleaners, demolishers, etc. when preparing their design. Designers will be required to establish ground rules for determining that which will be regarded as reasonably practicable. What frequency of personnel access to the edge of the roof or pier on a bridge for maintenance purposes would constitute the need for permanent edge protection? Would it be sufficient to make provision for the simple attachment of guard-rails for such work or even fixings for safety harnesses? Considerable guidance has been provided by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and such bodies as the Construction Industry Research and Information Association (CIRIA), showing various options for designers when attempting to eliminate and reduce risk by design.
Whilst designers are concerned to fulfil their obligations under CDM2015, it should be stressed that the 1992 code of regulations dealing with workplace health and safety already imposes duties to design structures which have provision for such activities as cleaning windows, skylights, etc. The Building Regulations, Highways Agency specifications, etc. also specify items to be addressed by designers.
The designers' considerations for the reduction of risk by design do not relieve the constructor, maintainer, repairer, cleaner, etc. of their obligations to perform risk assessments and provide a safe and healthy workplace and system of work.
The designers' knowledge of the construction, use, maintenance, repair, testing, commissioning, cleaning and demolition/dismantling processes and of the health and safety legislation will provide an understanding of the risks that will be encountered. This information will be supplemented by guidance from the Health and Safety Executive, from European and British Standards and industry standards.
The designer will also require some knowledge as to the types and frequency of maintenance, testing, repair and redecoration activities. This will allow decisions to be taken about the resources necessary to overcome risks and make judgements on whether it is "reasonably practicable" to incorporate a particular facility into the design.
It is essential that designers have a sound knowledge of health and safety issues, as required by the regulations, to ensure compliance with their duties.
Designers may wish to produce a hazard inventory associated with the design elements for both construction and post-construction work such as maintenance, cleaning, etc.
Regulations 9 and 10 set out the duties placed on designers. These include the duty to eliminate, reduce or control foreseeable health and safety risks through the design process, such as those that may arise during construction work or in maintaining and using the building once it is built.
Significant risks are not necessarily those that involve the greatest risks, but those, including health risks that are:
- not likely to be obvious to a competent contractor or other designers;
- unusual; or
- likely to be difficult to manage effectively.
Information provided by the designer should be brief, clear, precise, and in a form suitable for the users.
This can be achieved using:
- notes on drawings - this is preferred, since the notes will then be immediately available to those carrying out the work. They can refer to other documents if more detail is needed, and be annotated to keep them up todate;
- written information provided with the design - this should be project specific, and should only contain information which will be useful to those constructing or maintaining the structure;
- suggested construction sequences showing how the design could be erected safely, where this is not obvious, for example suggested sequences for putting up pre-cast panel concrete structures. Contractors may then adopt this method or develop their own approach.
The information should be provided by the designer to whomever needs it, including the client, other designers and contractors.
Co-operate, co-ordinate and communicate
The CDM2015 regulations require that designers co-operate with other designers involved in the project. Under CDM2015 designers shall, so far as reasonably practicable, co-ordinate their designs with other designers so that interfaces between design organisations working on the project and design disciplines involved do not create unnecessary risks.
Designers must co-operate and communicate with other designers, including temporary works designers, to ensure adequate co-ordination of the design.
Designers also have an absolute duty to take all reasonable steps to communicate design information and information about the risks which cannot be satisfactorily addressed by their designs to the client, other designers and contractors.
Project notification and appointment of the Principals
On all projects, the designers must verify that the project has been notified and that the Principal Designer has been appointed as soon as possible after commencement of initial or preliminary design. It would be reasonable for the designer to accept that the Principal Designer has been appointed if they are in receipt of the project notification, although the designers are likely to have been informed of the appointment of both the Principal Designer and the Principal Contractor when they are asked by the Principal Designer for contact details for the project notification and for design co-ordination.
Co-operate & communicate with the PD & the PC
On notifiable projects, the designers must co-operate, and communicate with the Principal Designer (PD) and the Principal Contractor (PC), as required for other parties to the project noted for all construction work.
Co-operation is required with the Principal Designer so that the Principal Designer can verify of compliance of the design and designers and effective co-ordination of the design. The designers must also provide design information to the Principal Designer for inclusion within the pre-construction information and for the verification of compliance.
Designers must take all reasonable steps to provide design information requested by the Principal Designer for the health and safety file.
Designers must co-operate with the principal contractor to ensure that design information is effectively communicated to the principal contractor and for the co-ordination of any design changes and design undertaken by the construction team, including temporary works design.