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

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:

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:

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.

RoSPA Explained – Q&A with our Head of SHE

Keysource recently claimed a Silver RoSPA Occupational Health and Safety Award for the second year in succession. We caught up with Justin Busk, the company’s Head of Safety, Health & Environment.

Hi Justin, so who are RoSPA?

RoSPA stands for The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. The organisation has a long-standing objective to reduce injuries and ultimately save lives. Each year, around 2.7 million people go to A&E for treatment and RoSPA provides a number of resources to inform, educate and help to prevent accidents in the home and its surrounding area.

Can you tell us a little about the RoSPA Awards?

The RoSPA Occupational Health and Safety Awards are internationally recognised and provide businesses of all sizes the opportunity to showcase their health and safety initiatives. The Awards have been in operation for 59 years now and over that time the scheme has encouraged a commitment to raising health and safety standards across every industry.

How did Keysource get on at the 2015 RoSPA Awards?

Keysource received a silver award after being applauded for high health and safety standards during the past year. In fact, this is the second year in a row we have been granted this award, which is a testimony to the hard work and dedication of the Keysource Board and wider team.

So it must have been very busy twelve months for you?

Absolutely. It has been a hugely successful year for Keysource, including the launch of our own pro-active safety culture, ‘Safety First, Always’. Our number one priority is to ensure the safety, health and welfare of all our employees and all other persons who may be affected by our activities. This commitment extends to the trade contractors we employ, stakeholders that we work with, visitors to our projects and members of the public.

The initiative encourages our people to lead by example, embracing and championing our safety culture. All are encouraged to intervene on unsafe behaviour, acts or conditions and put safety first, always. All staff must ensure that suitable and sufficient risk assessments are at the core of our activities.

Is the business using its expertise in this area to help its customers and other organisations?

Indeed it is. We have launched a number of exciting SHE & Compliance Services to help companies protect and enhance their people, assets, critical environments and reputations. These include consultancy, compliance and auditing, management systems, and training and development. These professional services are all underpinned by key International and British standards, accreditations and approved memberships in the field.

Finally, tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a Chartered Health & Safety professional with more than twelve years of experience working with various blue chip clients in both the public and private sectors. My key specialisms include occupational safety, health & environmental management, specialising in construction design. I joined the Keysource senior management team back in 2013 to help support the continued growth of the business.

You can find out more about our SHE & Compliance Services or call us on +44 (0)345 204 3333.

Design consultancy for Midlands colocation provider

We have just completed a design project for the development of a new colocation facility for Space Data Centers in Nottingham. The IT facility, which will deliver up to 50 racks, will accommodate a combination of customers’ colocation equipment and managed IT services. It is designed to deliver capacity within the local area to both public and private organisations looking for professional and high performance facilities.

The design incorporates highly efficient modular M&E solutions to ensure the facility can scale with no disruption as the load increases, and a resilient infrastructure for concurrent maintainability with modular components to improve resilience. The facility was designed to Tier III specifications, with 2N electrical distribution and concurrently maintainable N+1 cooling and power infrastructure.

As lead design consultant Keysource also fulfilled the role of Principal Designer in line with CDM 2015 regulations. We worked closely with Space Data Centers to develop the brief and design and delivered all aspects of the layout and mechanical and electrical systems. We also provided strategic consultancy and business planning support, and will be supporting Space Data Centres through the construction phase and into operation.

Gary Digva, Director of Space Data Centres said:

Our facility will be a big step forward in the area for outsourced data centre services and it is vital that the design meets all aspects of best practice, resilience and efficiency so we can demonstrate our commitment to the highest levels of service. Keysource is the perfect partner for us on this project as the company has a wealth of experience and its in-house design and engineering teams can meet our exact requirements in a timely and flexible way.



The National Archives appoints Keysource to deliver data centre professional services

Following a competitive tender, The National Archives has appointed Keysource, the expert in business critical environments, to help reduce its energy consumption and carbon footprint in line with the Government’s strategic objectives.

Under the terms of the deal Keysource will be responsible for providing data centre professional services in relation to one of The National Archives’ sites in Kew, which houses most of the storage, network and server infrastructure used to deliver corporate and customer facing technology services.

The scope of the project focuses on Keysource developing a set of best practice principles and energy efficiency initiatives which can be implemented throughout the data centre. The four-week project, when completed, will enable The National Archives to tender out the required upgrade work identified during this initial piece of work.

Paul Davies, Head of Estates and Operational Security at The National Archives, said:

The quality of the Keysource bid clearly demonstrated their approach to professional services was well established in this environment and appropriate for our needs.  Their experience in previous project outcomes have delivered on objectives for best practice and energy efficiency.

Rob Elder, Director, Keysource, added:

We are passionate about the need for continuous improvement and the adoption of best practice.  We believe that there is a huge opportunity for organisations to benefit from the retrofit and upgrade of existing spaces and we are delighted to be supporting The National Archives as they are leading the way with this approach.

About The National Archives:

For the record, for good…The National Archives is a government department and an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). As the official archive of the UK government and England and Wales, The National Archives looks after and makes available to the public a collection of historical records dating back more than 1,000 years, including records as diverse as the Domesday Book and MI5 files.

CDM Regulations 2015 – What must you do to comply?

The new Construction Design Management (CDM) regulations 2015 are supported by a new guidance document (L153) and became effective from 6th April 2015, they superseded the previous code of practice document, ACOP L144, written for CDM 2007.

The guidance supports H&S legislation and therefore means all duty holders will be accountable. Duty holders who have responsibilities and duties are clients, designers, contractors and workers.

If you are unsure of what this means to you or how you can ensure you are compliant with the new CDM regulations, and following on from our last blog on how the CDM changes will affect the construction industry, we’ve put together a list of 6 things you need to do to make sure you are in line with the legislation changes.

What must I do to comply?

  1. Engage or appoint a competent specialist consultant (such as Keysource) to help guide and advise you.
  2. Understand that CDM 2015 applies to ALL construction, dismantling, alteration, renovation, installation, commissioning, maintenance and repair projects whether domestic, non-domestic, notifiable or non-notifiable.
  3. Ensure that if more than one contractor is involved in a project then a principal designer and principal contractor must be appointed by the client.
  4. Ensure that health and safety must be managed in accordance with a suitably prepared and developed construction phase plan on ALL projects, even those undertaken by a single-contractor on a domestic project.
  5. Ensure a health and safety file is prepared for ALL projects involving more than one contractor.
  6. Ensure that all stakeholders appointed have, or are in the process of gaining, the right skills, knowledge, training and experience.

Principal Designers and Principal Contractors for Data Centres

Appointing qualified competent and experienced professionals to fulfil these roles in critical environments is a legal requirement and fundamental to a successful project outcome.

For further information and to see how Keysource can help you with the CDM 2015 regulations please contact us today.


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