Health and Safety

Working on a building site, any building site, is a dangerous occupation. It also has the potential to create and even promote dangerous situations that affect those only loosely associated with the building project; a delivery driver for example, or simply a passing member of the public.

Since 1994 there has been legislation that is fronted by the ‘Construction Design Management Regulations’. (CDM) These were last significantly updated in April 2007, and provide the frame work under which health and safety in construction operates. The umbrella legislation itself is the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The CDM regulations are additionally supported by an Approved Code of Practice (ACoP). The ACoP in turn is supported by a number of guidance notes targeted to specific duty holders (designers, contractors etc.).

Links to download the ACoP and guidance notes can be found below.

Whilst every person associated with a building project is required to carry out their duties in the safest possible way; from the building designer to the site labourer, the CDM regulations do not necessarily apply to all projects.

The CDM regulations do not apply when:

  • The project is predominantly domestic building or alterations, and the work is to the main residence of the client (the person who is paying and wants the work done). If the work is domestic in nature, but is to a property that is a holiday home, or perhaps a property to let; then the CDM regulations may apply.

Application of the CDM regulations may be considered under the following conditions –

  • If the perceived contract duration will exceed 30 working days.


  • If the perceived contract duration will involve more than 500 person hours.

When the CDM regulations apply:

Key Points

  • Although there are very onerous implications for Building designers and contractors; the ultimate responsibility for implementation remains with the client.
  • The client must appoint a CDM Co-ordinator to manage and oversee project related health and safety issues, and a Principal Contractor to plan and manage construction related health and safety issues.
  • The client must take steps to ensure that all parties to be involved on the building project are ‘competent’ to do so under the current CDM regulations.
  • The appointed design team must be given adequate time to design, resource and execute the building project.
  • The CDM regulations may apply to all construction work. Construction work covers building, alterations, demolition and maintenance.
  • All construction work that will exceed 30 days duration, or require in excess of 500 person hours, must be formally notified to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
  • All records, held by a third party, relating to the proposed building site (drawings and documentation) must be made available to the client / design team.
  • A Health and Safety file must be compiled and presented to the client on completion of the project. This should include all ‘As Built’ design drawings, related documentation, equipment operating manuals and other manufacturers literature,
  • Contractors must, either jointly or separately, provide adequate and suitable ‘Welfare facilities’ for the duration of the project.

These are only key points that relate to the CDM regulations. More detailed and comprehensive information is available within the following download PDF documents (Acrobat Reader software).