Alexandra Reid explains how the new CDM regulations will impact FE building projects.

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015) come into force on October 6 as the latest update of the CDM Regulations. They have the goal of ensuring that health and safety issues are properly considered during a project’s development so as to reduce the risk of harm to those building, using and maintaining the developments.

Compliance with CDM 2015 is vital and failure to do so can have serious and far-reaching consequences. These include criminal sanctions, fines and even imprisonment.

A “client” under CDM 2015 is an organisation “for whom a construction project is carried out”. In the vast majority of cases, therefore, FE colleges will be “clients” for the purposes of CDM 2015. CDM 2015, perhaps unfortunately, assumes a level of industry specific knowledge for clients which FE colleges and other educational institutions may understandably not have.

This position can be contrasted with that of a client undertaking a “domestic” project where a lesser level of knowledge is assumed.

Specifically, under CDM 2015 the duties of FE clients are enhanced compared to those under the previous CDM Regulations published in 2007.

The new regulations will require FE colleges in their role as “clients” undertaking construction work to appoint duty-holders — client FE colleges must ensure that other duty-holders are appointed, for example designers and contractors, including a principal designer and principal contractor on projects involving more than one contractor. If a college fails to do this it will have to carry out these roles itself.

Under the new regulations the duties of FE clients are enhanced

Colleges must also ensure that the parties they appoint have the relevant skill-set — the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to manage health and safety risks.

Clients, themselves, must further ensure they are fully equipped to carry out their duties. They must also ensure compliance by others — colleges must ensure that their principal designer and principal contractor carry out their duties.

They must also ensure clear roles of others — that the roles, functions and responsibilities of the project team are clear; that sufficient time and resources are allocated and effective mechanisms are in place to ensure good communication, cooperation and coordination between all parties.

Colleges must prepare a health and safety file — colleges must ensure that their chosen principal designer prepares a health and safety file for the project.

The various duties required of an FE client coupled with the obligation to ensure compliance by others is potentially daunting. This is particularly the case since these duties cannot be transferred back to the principal contractor in the same way that they can for domestic clients.

This burden can, however, be eased by ensuring adequate assistance from the project manager/ project team by, firstly, appointing an adviser — a college can choose to appoint a “CDM compliance adviser” to assist and advise in respect of their duties. The college would still carry out the role of ‘client’ but would have guidance and support along the way.

Secondly, appoint a project manager/employer’s agent — a college can also choose to appoint a project manager or similar party tasked with assisting with carrying out its duties, similar to the role of a CDM compliance adviser, or choose to delegate those responsibilities entirely to their project manager. In these circumstances, the appointment letter between the college and project manager would need to very clearly set out the extent to which this role is being delegated and any fee arrangements would need to reflect this. Importantly, the project manager would need to be comfortable and have the expertise to carry out this role.

Finally, managing project meetings to ensure compliance — FE clients are recommended to arrange frequent, for example fortnightly or monthly, project progress meetings as well as other reporting requirements in order to ensure that all parties are carrying out their roles as required.