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Ask the Expert: Tom Hargreaves – CDM Regulations 2015

In January 2017, Tom Hargreaves, Senior Chartered Building Surveyor at Anderton Gables, offers advice regarding the role of the Principal Designer to Insider Media following the change in regulations and implementation of the role now nearly 2 years ago.

Complying with the CDM Regulations 2015 will help ensure that no-one is harmed during construction works, and that your building is safe to use and maintain. Effective planning will also help ensure that your work is well managed with fewer unexpected costs and problems arising.

Q – Who is the Principal Designer and when should they be appointed?

On a commercial project; the Principal Designer is an organisation or individual appointed by the client to take control of the pre-construction phase of any project involving more than one contractor.

Q – What is the Principal Designer responsible for?

Principal Designers have an important role with regards to influencing how risks to health and safety are managed throughout a construction project.

Design decisions made during the pre-construction phase have a significant influence in ensuring the project is delivered in a way that secures the health and safety of everyone affected by the work.

Principal Designers must:

  • Plan, manage, monitor and co-ordinate health and safety in the pre-construction phase
  • Help and advise the client in bringing together pre-construction information, and provide the information designers and contractors need to carry out their duties
  • Work with any other designers on the project to eliminate foreseeable health and safety risks to anyone affected by the work and, where that is not possible, take steps to reduce or control those risks
  • Ensure that everyone involved in the pre-construction phase communicates and co-operates, co-ordinating their work wherever required
  • Liaise with the principal contractor, keeping them informed of any risks that need to be controlled during the construction phase

Q – What are the challenges that face Principal Designers?

The HSE is clear that designers have a strong impact on early decisions and these can have a fundamental effect on the health and safety aspects of a project. The early influence and engagement of designers is therefore important, but we still find on many projects that we are an afterthought, and only brought in when the design phase is well under way.

Furthermore, as project decisions are developed, it is the designer that can ensure that the health and safety aspects of the design are maintained. The designer juggles with many parameters as the design develops and it is their ability to keep the conflicting issues in balance, and ultimately result in a solution, that makes them ideal to be at the centre of pre-construction consideration of health and safety. It is therefore important that the Principal Designer is acknowledged as a key member of the project team from the outset.

Q – How can the team at AG help?

Our team here at AG are experienced designers with the practice holding CHAS Principal Designer accreditation. We are also members of The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) and The Association for Project Safety (APS).

Our team are therefore able to provide commercially aware CDM advice to meet your project requirements.