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Health & Safety Matters: CDM: are you aware of the responsibilities?

The new CDM (Construction Design and Management) Regulations have been in force since April but Bob Towse, head of technical and safety at the HVCA, is worried some contractors may be unaware of what this means to them.
CDM Regulations were first introduced 13 years ago but since April 6 this year the rules have been clarified and building services contractors need to understand their responsibilities.

CDM 2007 applies to all members of the construction supply chain including clients, and places clear legal duties on all. The new regulations supersede the 1994 CDM and the Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) regulations, which were set in 1996.

There is a fair amount of confusion because many specialist contractors believe, wrongly, that the regulations only apply to builders, main contractors and the like. However, the definition of 'construction work' stated in CDM 2007 includes: 'the installation, commissioning, maintenance, repair or removal of mechanical, electrical, gas, compressed air, hydraulic...services...fixed within or to a structure'.

Not much doubt there, then. Specialist building services firms are clearly subject to the new rules and, therefore, have to adhere to very strict health and safety guidelines to protect both their workers and those of others engaged on site.

The rules apply to all new projects and those already underway on April 6. There is a strong emphasis on competence and contractors have 12 months - until next April - to ensure they have someone with the required qualifications to act as a CDM co-ordinator on site.

Workers carrying out general maintenance of services are not covered by the new rules, although, CDM does extend the responsibilities of the system designer beyond the construction phase. They will be held responsible if the services they design subsequently prove difficult to maintain safely.

It is only natural to think: 'Oh, great, just what we need another set of regulations!' But the new CDM is a welcome simplification of our health and safety laws. CDM supersedes everything else, including the plethora of unique competence schemes developed by individual clients and main contractors. Now they should have no need to require contractors to show any proof of competence other than their CDM approvals.

The HVCA and its sister association the Electrical Contractors' Association (ECA) have developed a set of core criteria covering all the important aspects of health, safety and site welfare demanded by the new CDM regulations.

These include the need for contractors to have a health and safety policy; to ensure appropriate training and qualifications are in place for individual workers; to monitor and review processes; to have a clear accident reporting strategy and follow-up procedures; to put risk assessment methodology in place and make adequate provision for the welfare of their employees.

The full set of 12 criteria are set against standards to be achieved by the contractor and which allow the client or main contractor to make an assessment of their competence.

If you are already competent in these areas or carry out the required training to get to that level, you have nothing to fear from CDM 2007.

For more information on complying with the CDM Regulations and the core criteria contact Bob Towse on 020 7313 4900 or visit www.hvca.org.uk


For more information
contact Bob Towse on 020 7313 4928 (btowse@hvca.org.uk)
1 September 2007

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