Contractors and the Construction Design and Management regulations 2015CDM Services
Management of Health and Safety on Construction projects is governed by the content of The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM15). CDM15 applies to all construction work, and this includes
- repair and maintenance.
While a Principal Contractor may be in the driver’s seat during the Construction Phase of a project, they may not have the resources to complete the construction, contracting out the development to other specialist contractors. The actual work of building and maintaining a structure will usually be aided by the Contractor.
Contractors come in many forms from sole traders to large businesses. A Contractor is anyone who controls and manages the work that construction workers do.
What is a Contractors Duty under CDM15?
Where a Contractor is engaged in a construction contract, his immediate duty is to plan, manage and monitor any work that is carried out without risk to health and safety. This is a phrase that is echoed through CDM15 from the responsibilities of the Client to those of the Worker. The Contractor has a duty, on projects with more than one contractor, to coordinate the work they do with other members of the construction team. Any instructions given by the Principal Designer or Principal Contractor should be considered promptly. On occasions where the Contractor is the only one on the project, it will be the responsibility of that sole Contractors to prepare the Construction Phase Plan.
What are the Contractor’s requirements under CDM15?
The role of a Contractor will depend on the number of other contractors on a project at any one time. If the project has more than one contractor involved, the Contractor must coordinate their work with the other Contractors involved. If they are acting as the only Contractor on site, then they must prepare a Construction Phase Plan and make sure that no unauthorised entry can be made. In some cases, Contractors may also have a design role in a project.
Managing the Work
Managing work as a Contractor will mean delivering the clients brief. During the pre-construction phase, information will be collated by the Principal Designer. This details will be provided to the Contractor along with other information that is put together as part of the Construction Phase Plan by the Principal Contractor. All this design and construction information will be used by the Contractor to plan the work, for example where there are overhead obstructions or any areas where digging is forbidden.
Competency of Workers
Workers who represent the Contractor should be competent in that they have the correct level of skills, knowledge, training and experience to carry out the role. Supervision and a point of contact should be provided by the Contractor to all workers in case of any work issues. There should be an adequate number of supervisors on site at any time that reflects the number of workers and the task they are doing. The Supervisor is an integral part of any construction and CDM15 as it is this role that transmits information between workers and the Principal Contractor or Principal Designer. The supervisor should have experience in the type of work being planned, and the degree to which the team need to be supervised will be dependent on the skills and knowledge of the team.
Tools and Equipment
It is the Contractors responsibility to provide workers with adequate plant, tools and equipment, including hand and power tools that are free from damage and suitable for the task at hand. Any materials used should be safe, maintained and disposed of safely. Any latent harm should be identified and the correct precautions taken. While recognised as the last line of defence in the hierarchy of control, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be provided that fits the user thus providing the correct level of protection. This may also include eye protection, respiratory protection and gloves while on task if identified during a risk assessment.
Information and Instruction
The Contractor should pass on relevant information and instructions to all workers. This information should be provided in sufficient time to allow all workers enough time to carry out the work. Using the Supervisor to brief workers or where tasks are considered high risk, a written ‘Safe System of Work’ should be used, with the planned method of construction or installation. The work carried out will need to be coordinated with other Contractors and the Principal Contractor. Where a Contractor intends to sub-contract part of the work, they should inform the Principal Contractor immediately. How information is exchanged between other Contractors, including the Principal Contractor, should be agreed before work begins to allow all parties to manage health and safety while on site and beyond.
Appointing Workers and Sub-contractors
All workers should have the necessary skills, knowledge, training and experience to complete a task or project safely, without risk to their health or the health and safety of others. This will include ensuring that the workforce is trained to an acceptable level for the work they do. As always, supervision is an essential means of monitoring the work and ensuring that the workers are following clear instructions.
Additional information, instruction, training and supervision will be needed to support those who are still developing their experience in order to become self-sufficient in construction practices.
When employing a sub-contractor or another trade to carry out part of the work, the competency and capabilities of the workers to be used must be established. References for the type of work to be carried out should be requested by the Principal Contractor, checking qualifications and training records. There are also Accreditation schemes that Contractors can use to be more accessible to Principal Contractors and Clients as part of a Pre-qualification Questionnaire. Sub-contract workers should be given all the relevant information they need to carry out the task safely; the workers should be briefed by the Contractor before any work starts, this should include ensuring that all access and egress including working platforms and scaffolds are as specified and fit for purpose. Sub-contractors should have their work monitored, and any shortcomings remedied.
Co-operating with Duty Holders
As stated previously, Contractors play a key role in communicating with Principal Contractors and other workers and contractors on site. All work carried out by a Contractor on site could affect the health and safety of not only workers but of parties such as members of the general public. To ensure health and safety apply to all, it will require proper coordination of the work; this can only succeed if a good communication flow is achieved and everyone involved in the project co-operates to reach a collective objective.
What Additional Duties Does A Contractor Have Under CDM Regulations?
How Contractors can consult with Employees
There must be a collaboration between the Contractor as an employer and the workers that are on task to get individuals to work safely.
Involving workers in the decision-making process with regards to health and safety tends to lead to practical solutions.
- Speak to workers about their experience and knowledge about a task or job.
- Increase the potential commitment and buy-in from workers to any Health and Safety topics.
- Are more easily fostered by the workforce,
When experienced workers are consulted on matters of health and safety, it will be easier to:
- Spot workplace hazards
- Implement realistic controls
- Avoid controls being seen as a burden or barrier to completing a task.
Consultation is a proven means of managing Health and Safety on construction projects.
Consultation is about employers giving information to workers that is part of the Construction Phase Plan. It also requires the Contractor as an employer to listen to workers and consider their experience in the field. Any previous issues that workers may have come up against in previous jobs may have had a solution that has not been considered on this project.
Consultation with the workforce should cover:
- The hazards associated with their own work
- The hazards associated with the work of others on the project
- Environmental risks that modern construction techniques may harbour,
- The way these risks are managed
- How information and training can be used to protect relevant workers from specific risks.
Preparing the Construction Phase Plan
Preparing the Construction Phase Plan is the responsibility of the Principal Contractor and should be made up of the following:
- Description of how health and safety will be managed during construction and will contain information that is relevant to all Contractors working on the project.
- Should be available to anyone who wants to see it and therefore the information contained in it should be clear and easily understood with all superfluous information removed.
- Should consider issues such as logistics, working at height, hazardous substances, demolition and groundworks.
- Should be developed before any site is set up or work begins.
While it is the duty of the Principal Contractor to develop the Construction Phase Plan, it is the responsibility of the Client to ensure that the Construction Phase Plan is in place before the work begins.
Providing Welfare Facilities
Welfare includes the provision of toilets, both lit and ventilated and suitable for both sexes. With more and more female staff working on Construction sites, male and female bathrooms are thankfully becoming more common, but are open to abuse if not managed correctly.
Washing facilities with hot and cold water, soap or skin detergent with a means of drying hands should be close to the toilet facility. Separately, but just as important are rest facilities which should be a room with tables and chairs provided and with drinking water and cups as a bare minimum.
Where workers will need to change clothes or dry their workwear, a separate changing/drying room with lockers should be provided. It should be noted that while the lockers should be provided by the Principal Contractor, it is commonly the responsibility of the Contractor to supply their own key and lock.
The supply of Welfare Facilities is part of CDM15. Where one Contractor is charged with a Construction Project, the Welfare Facilities should be suitable and sufficient for the size of the project and should be available from when construction starts until the end of the project.
Where more than one contractor is working on a project, it is the Principal Contractor who is ultimately responsible for ensuring that welfare facilities are provided. It is the Clients responsibility to ensure that suitable arrangements are made for workers by the Principal Contractor.
Providing a Site Induction
Suitable site inductions should be provided by the Principal Contractor, this may be in groups or given to individuals as they start work. Where there is only one Contractor on site, Site Inductions are still a necessary part of the Construction Phase and should cover all the health and safety risks associated with the site. While each Site Induction will differ from project to project, typical topics that should be covered are:
- The Commitment to Health and Safety by the Contractor
- Basic details of the project and the anticipated outcome
- What is the management structure on the site – who are the relevant contacts within the organisation
- What are the site-specific health and safety risks (overhead electricity, trees on site, watercourses nearly, railways )
- How will health and safety on site be controlled via site rule, how will pedestrians and vehicles be segregated, what is the minimum PPE standard, how will deliveries to site be managed, how will temporary electricity be provided, how will hazardous substances be stored)
- What are the procedures for accidents and who is responsible for first aid
- How are accidents on site recorded and how will RIDDOR events be reported to HSE
- When and what will be the subjects of training, toolbox task and task briefings.
- How will the workforce be consulted with
- What is each individual’s responsibility for health and safety while on site
There is a requirement under CDM for Contractors to consult and co-operate with other duty holders, such as the Principal Designer, Principal Contractor, other Contractors, designers and suppliers of goods, labour and materials. It is not the responsibility of one element of the Project supply chain to ensure that health and safety on construction sites are realised it is only when all parties work together that the requirements of the CDM Regulations be realised. Contractors are in a position where they will be pulling lots of elements together to give the Client a structure that shows attention to detail and will be safe to use beyond the construction phase.