Published On: Thu, Apr 9th, 2015

Domestic building site health and safety the focus of new CDM Regulations

Hosking Associates is sending out a stark warning to homeowners and contractors to make sure they comply with new CDM Regulations

IMG_0491Hosking Associates is warning homeowners and tradesmen looking to commission building projects after 6th April 2015, to ensure they are aware of their legal duties – the health and safety specialist warns that non-compliance could affect the future sale of a property. Hosking Associates is sending out a stark warning to homeowners and contractors to be aware of changes to the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM), which will affect them from this month. CDM is a piece of legislation that aims to reduce accidents during construction projects via good design, planning and co-operation from concept to completion and ultimately decommissioning. It also specifies legal requirements on site safety standards and for the provision of welfare facilities such as access to toilets.

The full scope of the updated regulations, which came into force on 6th April 2015, will – for the first time – include construction work carried out for homeowners who will live in the property after work has been completed. Louise Hosking, Managing Director at Hosking Associates, said: “Of the 43 people who died on construction sites last year, three quarters were working on smaller projects. The new legislation recognises that large construction sites are no longer where most people are being badly injured or killed, and – as a result – focus is shifting to smaller projects including those within the domestic sector.

“The way a building project is organised can reduce risks to workers significantly. It is imperative that everyone involved – architects, engineers, builders and the homeowner, work together to meet the new standards. The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) commissioned a report last year that showed very few home owners consider safety when they choose their contractor and this may have to change. For some projects a health & safety file, which outlines how the work was undertaken and what was installed, will be required at the end of the work and if this isn’t provided it could affect the future sale of the property.”

Important points to note:

• From 6th April 2015, all builders, whatever their size, working in the domestic sector, will have to create a construction phase safety plan for all building projects.

• All domestic projects will have to meet the same basic standards for the provision of welfare facilities as commercial projects.

• Any domestic projects finishing after 6th April 2015, where there has been more than one contractor must have a health and safety file presented at the end.

• The health and safety file is a handover pack, which should include ‘as built’ drawings or specifications of components that have been installed. Conveyancing solicitors are likely to request this when property is bought and sold.

• For home owners, CDM duties are passed to the contractor where there is only one or the principal contractor for more than one.

• Where there is more than one contractor, a principal designer must also be appointed and they coordinate all matters relating to health and safety.

• If the principal designer changes or is not engaged to the end, the responsibility for the file moves on and may rest finally with the principal contractor.

• The principal contractor is responsible for operational site safety and passing information to the principal designer for the health & safety file.

“I would anticipate the HSE will start visiting home improvement sites more routinely and it will – probably – focus on the provision of welfare facilities and safe working practices initially,” adds Hosking. “If homeowners make it very difficult for their contractor or designer to comply, they could become responsible if this leads to an accident. Health and Safety offences that lead to death or significant personal harm can result in unlimited fines and imprisonment for those who made decisions or failed to make the decisions that led to this. Homeowners should therefore choose their contractors wisely, and push for the health and safety file.”

Billy Heyman, Managing Director at South West London building and refurbishment company, BTL Property (, adds: “Overall, we welcome the change to the CDM regulations, which will hopefully help improve health and safety standards on private domestic building projects (which is where the majority of construction workers are employed in the UK). “It is very important that the new standards are properly enforced, or pressure will be put on previously responsible builders who may become unable to compete with those builders prepared to cut corners. Irresponsible builders can probably save anywhere between 5-20% by not operating safely. Examples of where corners can be cut include: sites not having sufficient scaffolding, not providing adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), using untrained workers and not producing a site specific Construction Phase Plan (we estimate ½ a day to produce the document for a side return extension, for example). The last thing we want to see is an increase in ‘unscrupulous’ builders as a result of increasing red tape and slightly higher costs.”