Article Safety

Construction Design & Management Regulations 2015 – implementation

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Article written by Tom Phillips, RPA Safety Services and Julian Lovell, Chair of AGS Safety Working Group and Managing Director of Equipe.

CDM2015 came into effect on the 6th of April 2015 and duty holders within the geotechnical sector are starting to grapple with the reality of implementation. With an increased emphasis on Client responsibilities, in an industry sector where the Client is rarely directly involved in the ground investigation phase, questions about how the regulations will be applied are being asked.

In conversation with the Health and Safety Executive, Tom Phillips of RPA Safety Services and Julian Lovell, Managing Director of Equipe and Chair of the AGS Safety Working Group attempt to clarify some of the questions consultants and contractors are raising.

Q. The definition of ‘construction’ in regulation 1, excludes site survey and in many cases our clients see ground investigation as site survey. Could you clarify the limits of site survey?

Site survey is restricted to non-intrusive works so taking levels, making measurements, site walkovers, gas monitoring and visually examining structures for faults would all be typical examples. If the works involve penetrative works, even with hand tools, the work is classed as construction and the regulations apply.

We are keen to stress though, that the regulations should be applied proportionally to the level of risk involved. A shallow, hand dug trial hole will require minimal paperwork in terms of a construction phase plan, as the risk is low, but duty holders will still need to consider the risks associated with such things as underground services, contaminants, ground stability, preventing falls into the excavation and they must plan how the work will be carried out, kept safe and made good. In many cases, simple repetitive work will be based on standard company procedures but these will need tailoring for the site and locality in question and the prevailing conditions.

Q. Consultants and contractors are finding it difficult to get clients to accept and fulfil their duties under regulation 15 (1), which states: ‘A contractor must not carry out construction work in relation to a project unless satisfied that the client is aware of the duties owed by the client under these Regulations.’ In many cases they are not employed directly by the client and have no contact with them at all.

To what extent does this prevent contractors from starting work and will they be held liable for client’s failures to make the correct appointments and satisfy their duties?

The regulations do not prevent geotechnical contractors working, even if the client has not fully complied with their duties. Key for the contractor, is to ensure they have made the client aware of the client’s duties under CDM. This can be done as part of the tendering process, or following appointment.

In such instances, the contractor still needs to make wider arrangements to manage the site for the duration of their attendance (appropriate to the role they are carrying out) despite a lack of formal appointment.

The contractor should therefore ensure the site is secure, ensure suitable welfare arrangements are in place and comply fully with their part 4 duties under the regulations. They should also prepare (or contribute to an existing) Construction Phase Plan 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 construction phase plan 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 as a separate part of the contractor’s contract.

Where the contractor is the main contractor on all or part of the site they should manage all work in the area they are responsible for unless a principal contractor is appointed and active. Where the contractor carries out design work (e.g. temporary works including perimeter fencing, arranging traffic management routes, ground conditions assessment and alterations, excavation support arrangements, etc.) they should ensure they follow the principle of avoid the hazard or use a suitable control measure to minimise risk.

Q. When a geotechnical contractor is appointed as Principal Contractor (PC) or Principal Designer (PD), in the early stages of a GI phase, or they pick up those duties by default, is there a danger they could be deemed PC and PD for subsequent phases?

Absolutely. Without clear arrangements to the contrary, there is every danger that a geotechnical contractor could be assumed to be responsible for following phases of works. It is therefore important that where a geotechnical contractor is appointed, or by default is expected to carry out the duties of the Principal Contractor and Principal Designer (a requirement on any project where there is likely to be more than one contractor), they clearly limit their role to their phase of works only. This will include limiting the Construction Phase Plan to the geotechnical phase. Where the existing contract paperwork is not clear on this issue the contractor should write to their client to confirm the extent of the contractor’s role.

Q. Regulation 2 defines a contractor as ‘any person (including a non-domestic client) who, in the course or furtherance of a business, carries out, manages or controls construction work’. Does this definition mean consultants may be classed as contractors?

The duty holder ‘contractor’ relates to those who: determine the manner in which the work is being done (this may also include a design element so they may hold dual roles), provide supervision or engage other contractors. This can include ‘consultancies’ in many instances.

As an example, where a consultant engages a drilling contractor and determines the nature and type of works or supplies supervision, they would both be deemed contractors and it will be the consultancy’s responsibility to ensure the client is aware of their duties. The client would then need to make the necessary appointments. Where a domestic client is involved, the consultancy (as a contractor) may be deemed to be principal contractor and principal designer by default, even if the client fails to make formal appointments. Where a commercial client is involved, any failure to appoint will result in the client carrying the role of principal designer and/or principal contractor.

Further reading:

HSE Publication L153 – Managing health and safety in construction – Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 –

CITB Guidance on CDM –

Article Business Practice

BIM Regional Hubs Events

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A BIM Focus

Learning or extending your Building Information Modelling (BIM) knowledge through the BIM Hubs

In line with the launch of the BIM Regional hubs this autumn CIC, in conjunction with the BIM Task Group are running a series of FREE half day workshops across the UK to help educate attendees on all things BIM.

These workshops will feature presentations from BIM Task Group members who will explain the Government’s BIM policy and how you can engage with the new BIM Hubs. There will be local case studies which will illustrate the experience some organisations have had in implementing BIM, for example what business considerations were there, how their information management process changed, the legal implications and many other relevant influences that can have an effect or be affected by the BIM context.

There will be an opportunity for Q&A with the BIM Task Group members which will enhance the understanding of BIM issues and explain any concerns you may have. There will also be a chance to network with fellow professionals who also have an interest in understanding BIM and its benefits.

The BIM Hubs themselves will help raise awareness and the benefits of BIM to the industry as a whole and facilitate the early adoption of BIM processes and working methods throughout the UK’s construction industry as well as providing a valuable link into the BIM Task Group and the Government. At these events you will get a chance to find out more about how the BIM hubs will work in your area with an invitation to be involved and shape its future operation.

These events will be of interest to anyone within the Built Environment such as Practising construction professionals, Members of professional and trade bodies, Contractors, Asset and Facilities managers, Clients and Academia.


Newcastle 25th September 2012 2pm – 5pm
Edinburgh 26th September 2012 10am – 1pm
Glasgow 26th September 2012 2pm – 5pm
Wrexham 1st October 2012 10am – 1pm
Manchester 2nd October 2012 10am – 1pm
Cambridge 18th October 2012 10am – 1pm
Coventry 22nd October 2012 10am – 1pm
Nottingham 23rd October 2012 10am – 1pm
Exeter 29th October 2012 2pm – 5pm
Bristol 30th October 2012 10am – 1pm
Cardiff 31st October 2012 10am – 1pm
Leeds 1st November 2012 2pm – 5pm
Hull 2nd November 2012 2pm – 5pm
London 5th November 2012 10am – 1pm
Northampton 6th November 2012 10am – 1pm
Belfast 8th November 2012 10am – 1pm

To book your FREE place at these events please go to if you have any further questions please contact

Please note places are limited and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

Article Safety

Unexploded Ordnance – a Construction Industry Guide

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As the representative of the AGS on the project steering group for the forthcoming CIRIA construction industry guidance on UXO, Andy O’Dea of Peter Brett Associates LLP updates us on the scope of the guidance and the benefits it will bring.

In the March 2005 issue (number 49) of the AGS Newsletter, you published a letter from my colleague at Peter Brett Associates LLP (PBA), Richard Thomas, on the controversial issue of unexploded wartime bombs (UXBs).  It transpires that this was one of the contributing factors to CIRIA commissioning a research project to produce definitive guidance on the issue for the construction industry.  PBA has part funded the project and I have been involved throughout, representing both the AGS and PBA on the project steering group.  The final report is nearing completion and is likely to be published in the coming months.  I thought it was timely for me to write to update the AGS on the scope of the report and the benefits it will bring.

The assessment of risk associated with Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) is controversial and fraught with difficulties.  For example, several thousand items of ordnance are removed from construction sites in the UK each year (of which some 5% are live).  However, in the period 2006/2007 (readily available HSE records), no reported injuries to construction workers were attributed to incidents involving UXO.  This is in spite of other risks or accidents in the UK construction industry resulting in 77 fatalities, 3,711 major injuries and 7,108 other reportable injuries. Make no mistake about it, the risk associated with UXO is overwhelmingly influenced by the consequences of an event rather than the likelihood of encountering or detonating a device in the first instance.

Three main issues drove PBA to get involved in the project:

  1. A lack of any consistency in the assessment and reporting of UXO risk across the industry.
  2. An absence of scientific or methodical processes in the ‘black art’ of UXO threat assessment.
  3. The perceived conflict of interest in a UXO specialist providing advice on required mitigation measures and then offering contractor services to mitigate the risk.


We are pleased to say that all three issues have been addressed by the project guidance.

We feel that the report is a comprehensive and extremely useful piece of work that will help to dispel many of the myths surrounding UXO and allow future UXO risk assessments to be supported by a consistent and rigorous approach that is underpinned by scientific reasoning.  The report provides a comprehensive introduction to UXO and outlines the duties and responsibilities of the parties to a construction project in the context of UXO risk.  A clear and concise flow diagram outlines the risk management framework; from preliminary risk assessment (that can be carried out by a non-UXO specialist) through to detailed risk assessment, where required, (to be conducted only by a UXO specialist) and on to risk mitigation and implementation.  Each element of the risk management framework is described in full detail in subsequent chapters of the report.  Advice on emergency response planning and the appointment of UXO specialists is drawn out in the later chapters.

The report is supported by a dozen or so relevant case studies and especially important issues are emphasised in highlighted boxes.  Example risk assessment reports, verification reports and clearance certificates are provided in the appendices along with the ‘nuts and bolts’ of UXO survey techniques, equipment and limitations.

The report has been through a rigorous consultation process and has been distributed widely across the industry for comment on a number of occasions.  Consultation responses have been received from developer clients, regulators, consultants, contractors, infrastructure bodies, government defence organisations, academia and professional bodies such as AGS.  A special note of thanks goes to those at the AGS who have given their time and expertise in reviewing the report and making the consultation process a success.

This report presents a major advance in helping to provide a consistent and robust approach to the assessment of UXO risk in the construction industry and is to be welcomed.  Undoubtedly, it is a first step and further guidance will follow in time.  However, CIRIA Report RP732 Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) – a construction industry guide, is a big step in the right direction.

Andy O’Dea
Senior Associate
Peter Brett Associates LLP
17 September 2008

Article Contaminated Land

Construction Waste… and how to make it disappear

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Half of construction waste already gets recycled, but the other half is still either being spread as waste (under various licensing exemptions) or simply landfilled. With the pressure to create less waste, and Site Waste Management Plans now a reality for England and Wales (and coming through the back door to Scotland) guidance on ‘when is an alleged waste not a waste’ has been published by commercial law solicitors Semple Fraser.

If correctly applied, the legal answer to that question can legitimately transform what is asserted (often by the regulators) to be ‘waste’ into a genuine non waste ‘product’.

The “CL:AIRE” advisory group on contaminated land is currently consulting on a new code of practice-( visit to view Code of Practice), which may affect the way the regulators seek to interpret and apply Some helpful pointers to the existing law can be downloaded from Semple Fraser’s website at

Article Business Practice Data Management Executive Safety

Establishing Ground Rules

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Concerns over the place of Ground investigations in relation to CDM led John Banks and Mouchel Parkman to raise queries with HSE and an APS Legal Adviser. We print below the critical exchanges for the benefit of all those who may encounter similar concerns/ problems.

From John Bans (Technical Director of Mouchel Parkman and Finance Director of APSt) to staff at Mouchel Parkman

“I have attached a copy of the legal advice received from The Association for Project Safety relating to the application of CDM Regulations to Ground Investigations. The reason for asking for a specific ruling was the attitude of the Contractor who despite being informed (via structure and correct ICE Conditions of Contract) that we expected them to be Principal Contractor, moaned about the fact once appointed.  The work is small in scale: 3 days trail pitting, then a break and then returning to undertake the boreholes for 3 weeks.

You will note that the ruling supplied states that it is the project that is important (building schools [and in fact most projects] generally takes longer than 6 weeks to construct)

I know I have started this before but note that:

  • All Ground Investigations, allied to a larger project will have a construction period of no longer than 6 weeks (and generally that is the only reason we are doing them), need a CDM Co-ordinator and Principal Contractor

The only exception is where we are undertaking Ground Investigations and there is no final project (seeing if a site is within Part 11A, etc)”


The APS Legal Advisors had responded to John’s enquiries as follows:
“The issue in this query centres around the definition of a project. This is defined in regulation 2 as “a project which includes or is intended to include construction work and includes all planning, design, management or other involved in a project until the end of the construction phase”.

The ground investigation is part of a larger project. The definition of a project extends to include the planning and design, which is taking place at the same time as the ground investigation. It would be artificial to treat the ground investigation works as separate from the project as a whole.

The difference between treating the ground investigation as part of a notifiable project, and treating it as a stand alone project which is not notifiable, need not be very great.  The ground investigation contractor would of course have the duties of a principal contractor, but contractors have duties under CDM2007 in any event if their work is not notifiable (see regulation 13).

Because of the limited nature of the works, the health and safety file would not need to be lengthy or elaborate. The health and safety plan would deal with the specific risks only. Similarly the health and safety file would not need to cover more than the residual risks arising out of the ground investigation works or which have become apparent as the result of those works.”

The Mouchel Parkman Compliance manager had also sought the views of the HSE at Rose Court via infoline and received the following.

“You are correct in every respect. The ground investigation works are part of the notifiable part of the project. It is not unusual for ground investigation works to take place early, perhaps long before the appointment of the Principal Contractor who will be undertaking the management of the main construction phase. However, it is still part of the same overall project.

As the project is notifiable, and the ground investigation is part of the notifiable project, there needs to be a Principal Contractor (PC) appointed. If the only work being carried out on site is the ground investigation, then I do not understand why the ground contractor thinks they are not competent to act as PC- for themselves. The role of PC is essentially to co-ordinate the construction work on site, to ensure that it is carried out safely. I assume the contractor feels confident enough to do their own work safely.  There will be a requirement to fence off the site, liaise and co-ordinate with the school/client to ensure safety to children, staff and the nearby public, and ensure welfare facilities. Their construction phase plan will only need to go as far as covering their involvement at the site. At the end of their work, presumable they relinquish the role of PC, which is subsequently taken up by the PC for the main construction phase plan.

If there will be other contractors working at the same time as the ground investigation contractor, I can understand their reluctance if they have not been in a position to manage other contractors before, and they may not have personnel capable or competent to do this task. Otherwise, acting as PC for their own work only, should not create any extra demands.

Ref: Article taken from APS newsletter/ October 2007

Article Business Practice


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In a bid to overcome skill shortages, 15,000 copies of NCE insite go to schools and colleges every term to tell students, teachers, parents and careers advisor’s the potential and variety of careers available in civil engineering, construction and the built environment.

The AGS is a patron of Insite and helps to sponsor a ‘Ground’ related page in each issue.

Do you have a project that will catch the imagination of young would-be geotechnical engineers?

A photograph with a teenage icon in the background (or foreground!)?

Is your remediation project saving the planet? (or the fish, the flora, the fauna …)

In short, anything with youth appeal is wanted. This is not an opportunity for self promotion. It’s an opportunity to communicate the excitement, the challenge, the variety and the satisfaction that keeps you here.

Contributions can be sent at any time – to the AGS for forwarding to the editor