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There appears a general consensus that working for a commercial competent supply chain and client, CDM2015 is reasonably straightforward to comply with. Although the changes are significant, good contractors perform similar duties that have kept them safe in the past.
A competent client will appoint a Principal Designer (PD) and Principal Contractor (PC) in sufficient time for the ground investigation to be undertaken by a contractor using sufficient resources in accordance with the regulations. Everyone knows where they stand.
In other situations, a commercial client may not fulfil their duties for making the appointments; or for providing all the information needed to safely operate the site.
In such circumstances, the contractor may elect to undertake the duties that are missing to get the work done; adopting the PD/PC roles. In effect, treating a commercial client like a domestic client. (Hyperlink to HSE http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg411.pdf)
Where a domestic client appoints only a contractor, the duties are automatically transferred if they do not exist elsewhere. Contractors may think life-of-project organisations like builders/architects/structural engineers are better suited to PD/PC duties, and this is probably true but may be out of the member’s control. Members could check whether any written agreements are in place before deciding whether to proceed. “
Contractors that do decide to take on a project in this way should recognise their additional duties (and competencies or otherwise), which can be discovered by looking at the regulations and the guidance. Some highlighted issues are presented below.
The contractor must ensure they have made the client aware of their own duties (either as commercial or domestic client), but also that they are taking on the additional roles (PD/PC) which may require extra resources. This should be done as part of the tendering process/offer of service, AND include details of when these roles will cease plus other limitations.
The contractor still needs to make wider arrangements to manage the site for the duration of the works by performing inductions, ensuring the site is secure, ensure suitable welfare arrangements are in place and generally comply fully with their part 4 duties under the regulations. They should also prepare a Construction Phase Plan (CPP) which will deal with how they intend to arrange the work and how they will manage foreseeable hazards both at and adjacent to the site.
The CPP should also identify any additional information that the contractor needs before starting work. If the client is not able to provide that information (e.g. services location, intrusive asbestos survey, ordnance assessment, etc.) then the contractor should arrange with the client for the work to be carried out.
Where the contractor carries out design work (e.g. temporary works including perimeter fencing, arranging traffic management, ground conditions assessment and alterations, excavation support, etc.) they should ensure they follow the principle of avoid the hazard or use a suitable control measure to minimise risk.
Without clear arrangements to the contrary, there is danger an early stage contractor could be assumed to be responsible for following phases of works. It is therefore important that where a contractor only is appointed, they clearly limit their role.
The following examples show where a contractor (PD/PC) might find unexpected resources required to comply with the regulations.
- Obtaining service drawings & checking for unexploded ordnance
- Managing extra contractors
- Dealing with unexpected visitors
- Maintenance of security or welfare where damage occurs
- Changing investigation method due new information, unforeseen site conditions, or consequential events
It is probably the role of PD that introduces most uncertainty to the contractor because the role is generally unfamiliar to site staff. For instance, would using a borehole instead of a trial pit represent a clear-cut reduction in risk against striking a service, and is this a designer’s decision under CDM 2015?
If you found this article helpful, you may find the AGS Client Guide on CDM2015 useful, to download for free please click here.