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Accreditation for CDM 2015 Dutyholders and Advisors

CDM 2007 FAQs: Designer Role

Am I a designer?

To be a designer you have to be in a trade, business, or undertaking that involves you in preparing designs. In CDM 2007 the term "designer" relates to the function performed, rather than the profession or job title. So, for a construction project there could be "traditional" designers, such as architects, structural engineers, and civil engineers, a design and build contractor etc. Building services engineers/consultants and quantity surveyors etc are also designers. You will also be a designer if you prepare drawings, specifications, and bills of quantities.

Can you summarise what I should be doing as a designer?

The main designer duties under the Regulations are:

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Do designers have any additional duties if the project is notifiable?

Yes. Where the project is notifiable, designers should not commence work (other than initial design work) unless a CDM Co-ordinator has been appointed. They must also provide the CDM Co-ordinator with any information about aspects of their design which will help him discharge his CDM 2007 duties, including information that may be needed for the health and safety file.

What is 'initial' design work?

Initial design work' includes feasibility studies to enable the client to decide whether or not to proceed with the project, and any work necessary to identify the client's requirements or possible constraints on the development. Designers should encourage the appointment of a CDM Co-ordinator at the earliest opportunity.

The following examples illustrate what is beyond preliminary design, and hence that which should not be progressed in the absence of a CDM Co-ordinator:

What would be reasonable for me to do to ensure that the client will be aware of his duties under the new CDM 2007 Regulations?

This depends upon the knowledge and experience of the client, and also the complexities of the construction project. As a designer, you need to have a knowledge of the client duties as they affect the project, so that you can give the client proper advice. You need to let the client know that you cannot begin work until you have made him aware of his duties. You also need to be reasonably satisfied that the client has understood the advice that you have given.

I'm a bit confused about whether I should be using design risk assessments, design risk reviews, or some other means of documenting my risk procedures. Can you help me?

Your aim is to eliminate hazards from the design (so far as is reasonably practicable), and reduce risks from any remaining hazards - giving priority to collective protective measures before individual protective measures. The consideration of hazard and risk is integrated within the design process, so there is no need to carry out a separate "design risk assessment". A design review may also be useful as a means of checking that the principal aim of eliminating hazards or reducing risks is achieved. A design practice or design team may choose to develop their own arrangements to make sure that designers are aware of their responsibility to eliminate hazards and reduce risks. The nature of these arrangements will depend on the size of the design practice/team, and the type of work undertaken.

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The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSWR) required risk assessments, so why don't I have to do specific design risk assessments?

Reg 3(1) of MHSWR does require employers and the self-employed to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of risks to which their own employees are exposed at work, and also the risks arising out of, or in connection with, their work activity (e.g. designs) to which others may be exposed. The purpose of the risk assessment is to identify measures needed to comply with relevant health and safety law.

However, the risk assessment of a design should be integral to, and evolve with, the design work itself. Every design is different, and every design will require a degree of calculation, assessment, review, and the proper exercise of judgement. If a designer is complying with Reg 11 of the new CDM 2007 Regulations, then as the design is worked through to completion any hazards will be eliminated and residual risks (to those who may be affected by them) reduced, so far as is reasonably practicable. This is, in effect, the application of risk assessment to the design. There is no legal requirement for a risk assessment to be in writing or recorded, however, Reg 3(6)(a) of MHSWR does require the significant findings of the assessment to be recorded where an employer employs five or more people. In terms of design, the significant findings of the assessment will be the finished design, together with all relevant drawings, and any accompanying notes.

Reg 3(3) of MHSWR requires any assessment to be reviewed if no longer valid, or if there have been significant changes. Most design practices already do this, by a systematic process of design review throughout the development of the design. Designers may choose to record the reasons why a design was modified or revised so that any subsequent designers are aware of what was decided.

Para 113 of the CDM 2007 ACOP states that "compliance with Reg 11 of CDM 2007 will usually be sufficient for designers to achieve compliance with Regs 3(1), (2), and (6) of MHSWR as they relate to the design of the structure".

How and what information do I have to pass on?

You should inform others about project specific significant residual risks. This should focus on risks that may not be obvious to those who use the design.

One good way of communicating this information is using notes on drawings, if you are not sure what information should be passed on talk to the CDM Co-ordinator or contractor about what they need to know.

Do designers have to eliminate all risks?

No. Designers should avoid hazards where possible, but there will be many situations where it is not possible to avoid all hazards. Where hazards cannot be avoided, the designer should reduce the risks associated with the hazard.

The amount of effort put in to avoiding hazards and reducing risks should be proportionate to the degree of risk. They are not required to spend time, money and trouble on low risk issues.

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If I am a designer working for a domestic client, do I have to comply with CDM 2007?

Yes. You will need to comply with the duties placed on designers in parts 1 and 2 of the Regulations (There are no duties on designers in parts 4).

What paperwork do designers need to produce to show that they have complied with the Regs?

Designers need confirmation they have informed the client of his duties, confirmation of risk analysis throughout the design process (drawings and notes) and a hazard register to pass on prior to site start.

Are designers risk assessments still required and if yes in which format?

No. A summation of the hazards, particularly a drawn one is best but certainly no pre-formatted tabularised document.

Some designers still call the summary of their CDM Reg 11 thinking / actions the "design risk assessment", some call it a "register"; however the content is fairly similar - what's in a name?

The name is not really the important issue, making sure you consider issues, recording some notes on your actions and having a method to publish hazards that others need to be aware of is the point. The name hazard register might be appropriate.

I have heard a lot about design for construction issues but nothing about designing for ongoing maintenance of the building. How do you see the new CDM regulations improving the safety of maintaining new buildings or refurbishments?

Access cleaning and maintenance are as important. Architects must consider how buildings are accessed and carefully consider materials. See industry guides and Coniac guide on access.

How do designers ensure that preparatory safety works e.g. scaffolding, temporary welfare facilities etc are carried out properly?

Designers as part of the consultant team just have to point out that welfare should be provided. They should not get involved with scaffold design at all, just allow for the principle if it is to be used on not. Other specialists should undertake the design.

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