Back to News
Principal DEsigner and Principal Contractor

Principal Designers and Contractors for Business Critical Environments – The importance of getting it right

Date: 11th August 2015
Tags: , , , ,

We’ve recently been looking at the changes to Construction (Design & Management) Regulations (CDM) and what’s needed to comply with the legislation and how they will affect our customers.

The first thing to note is that the changes place more responsibilities on the client with an obligation to ensure that H&S is managed effectively throughout the duration of the project and non-compliance which leads to serious incidents, now has the potential for unlimited financial penalties to be imposed.

Briefly the main changes are:

  • The role of CDM Co-ordinator has been removed and a new role introduced, a Principal Designer, who will be responsible for managing the overall design risk and the other designers. Other responsibilities include liaising with the customer and the principal contractor on all H&S matters.
  • Any project involving more than one contractor, including sub-contractors, will need a Principal Designer and a Principal Contractor, whether notifiable or not. These appointments must be documented and confirmed by the customer.
  • CDM 2015 will also apply to domestic projects
  • The F10 notification requirements have changed and it is now the customer’s responsibility to notify the HSE (previously done by the CDM-c).

What you need to do to ensure compliance

In our previous post we looked at the 6 things you need to do to ensure you comply with CDM, with two of the compulsory tasks being appointing a Principal Designer and a Principal Contractor.  We live and breathe data centres and business critical environments so we understand the importance of making sure you have the correct suppliers and contractor working within this environment.

This blog looks at the roles of the Principal Designer and the Principal Contractor and delves more deeply into what skills are required for working within business critical environments and suggests questions you should ask your chosen designer & contractor before you appoint them!

First off, the Principal Designer…

CDM Principal Designer for Critical Environments

What is a CDM Principal Designer?

A CDM Principal Designer can be an organisation or individual depending on the size of the project and head up the project design process. They are appointed by the customer to manage the whole pre-construction phase of any project that involves two or more contractors. Indeed, principal designers are responsible for managing all elements of health and safety risks that are presented at the preconstruction phase of the project.

In more detail, principal designers are required to work with the customer to plan, manage, monitor and coordinate health and safety taking into consideration all existing information that might affect design work carried out both before and after the construction phase has started.

On larger projects, where there is more than one designer, the principal designer is required to work with all of the designers and share all relevant information to ensure that any potential risks are mitigated.  This means that the principal designer assumes the role of coordinating clear communications across the design teams. Furthermore the principal designer has a duty to keep the contractor informed of any risks that need to be managed at the construction phase.

Whether working in a live upgrade or on new build projects, it is important to make sure you are working with a designer that really understands the environment, the potential risks and hazards, and more importantly how to mitigate them. The best place to start is by selecting a couple of companies and looking through their case studies and previous work (you can find ours here).  From this, you can really see what experience they have and the type of projects they have worked on.  You can also see their awards or any accreditations they have achieved which gives un-biased third party validation and assurance of their expertise. You should also be looking for suitable CDM and Lead Auditor qualifications. Armed with this knowledge you should then call and speak to the person that heads up their Health and Safety team, in our case Justin Busk; Head of Safety, Health and Environment (you can use our example questions below as a guide!) which will help give you a feel for their understanding and capabilities.

You may be tempted to use a supplier you have used previously but they may not have the level of expertise required or the experience, and for what is essentially 30 minutes on Google (or the search engine of your choice!) it could save you years’ worth of trouble with projects that weren’t properly assessed, the risks were not correctly controlled, or even resulted in injury to people or damage to property.

Questions to ask a potential Principal Designer

  1. How do they demonstrate the technical knowledge of the construction industry relevant to the project?
  2. How do they identify, eliminate or control foreseeable risks?
  3. How can they demonstrate organisational capability?
  4. How do they effectively manage their duties under CDM?

CDM Principal Contractor for Critical Environments

What is a CDM Principal Contractor?

For projects with more than one contractor, a principal contractor must be appointed by the client. The principal contractor needs to have the expertise to manage all health and safety risks throughout the construction phase as they assume responsibility for planning, monitoring and co-ordinating the project during construction, and in particular this includes managing any health and safety risks to workers on the project and the general public.

The specific requirements of a principal contractor include:

  • consulting with the client and principal designer to help plan and manage risks throughout the pre-construction and construction phases
  • Provide a construction plan before starting the construction, use the plan during construction, continually assess progress and document any amendments needed to keep it in line with project needs.
  • have measures in place for managing and facilitating operatives’ welfare and health and safety throughout the construction phase, including briefing, and where necessary training, workers about their health, safety and welfare as well as any site-specific conditions that may affect their work.
  • Check that anyone recruited to work on the construction phase has the skills and knowledge needed for their role and complies with health and safety standards.
  • Keep site visitors safe and prevent unauthorized access.

Once you have appointed your Principal Designer you then need to consider your Principal Contractor, this can be from the same organisation and makes sense, especially if the organization is providing both services. But again we would only recommend this if they have the correct technical knowledge and experience, and can demonstrate the organisational capability to carry out the role.

Questions to ask a potential Principal Contractor

  1. What experience do they have as a principal contractor?
  2. How do they identify, eliminate or control hazards and risks?
  3. How do they effectively manage their duties under CDM?
  4. How do they ensure effective co-ordination with designers?

If you have any questions about this article, would like to know more or would like to talk to us about CDM 2015 services call us on +44 (0) 345 204 3333 or download our brochure here.

[x]

Contact Us

Please fill in the form below and a member of the team will be in touch shortly.