CDM Regulations Explained: Construction Design Management Update

CDM Regulations

CDM Regulations Explained: Construction Design Management Update

As an office design and fit out company, it’s important we keep up to date with the latest health and safety regulations.  The CDM regs are a crucial set of rules we have to follow. If you work in construction, it’s extremely likely you’ve come across these regulations before, however if it is your first time you’ve heard about these regs, don’t worry, here’s CDM regulations explained:

What is CDM?

The Construction Design Management (CDM) regulations were designed to help improve health and safety in the construction industry.  The regulations describe specific duties each member at a construction site is required to do by law. From start to finish of any building project, each member (clients, designers, contractors, principal contractors, principal designers and workers) is legally bound to do their role.

These safety regulations were introduced by the Health and Safety Executive to:

  • improve and manage health & safety on-site
  • ensure correct personnel is assigned to the right task
  • benefit planning and management of construction projects
  • discourage any bureaucracy

The CDM regs first came into effect in 2007 but since then, they have been updated.

CDM 2007 regs were altered in April 2015 – what you need to know

In the 2007 regulations there were specific rules for:

  • Clients
  • Designers
  • Principal contractors
  • Contractors
  • Workers
  • CDM Coordinators

However from April 2015 there have been changes and there was a time period offered to give projects time to transition to the new changes. By October, all construction projects had to abide by the new changes.

We’ve created a summary of the main changes you need to be aware of:

The Principal Designer has replaced the CDM Coordinator

A CDM Coordinator was expected to be appointed on any notifiable building projects. They were responsible for managing health and safety matters.

Now the CDM Coordinator has been removed and the Principal Designer role has been created in its place. The Principal Designer will come from the design team on site, they will usually be a Structure Engineer, Service Engineer or an Architect.

The PD has adopted many expectations the CDM Coordinator originally had. The PD is responsible for:

  • Managing risk assessment during the design phase of construction
  • Keeping the Principal Contractor up-to-date with any changes on-site
  • Preparing the Construction Phase Plan
  • Helping the client with the Construction Phase Plan
  • Supervising other designers to ensure they fulfil their role correctly
  • Organising the health and safety file

Domestic Client Exemption removed

Under the 2007 regulations, domestic clients had no responsibilities. In order to avoid complications, the duties of domestic clients have now been taken over by the contractor/principal contractor.

Updates on the approved code of practice (ACOP)

Rather than offering practical advice on how to implement the CDM regulations effectively, the rules will be written.

Easier understanding of the regulations

From confusion caused by the original CDM, it’s been decided the regulations will be simplified to help understanding.

Increasing threshold for notifying projects

In the original regulations, the HSE had to be notified if a construction project was going to last more than 30 days OR involve more than 500 days of person labour. However this has been changed to “more than 30 working days and more than 20 workers simultaneously”.

Issues caused by the new changes

Overall, the new changes appear like they have been designed to improve the 2007 regulations, however some complications have arisen, especially in relation to the Principal Designer role.

As the Principal Designer role is almost completely new in some respects, people need to be trained to enter the PD position to fulfil their role correctly. Also there are still some confusions on what the PD actually does.




Although the 2015 regulations offered a time period for companies to transition from the 2007 regs to the new standards, it doesn’t offer enough time for some of the changes.

Since the new regs were introduced, it’s clear the HSE are trying to fix any complications or confusions.


At Elm Workspace, health and safety is a high priority for us. As we keep up-to-date with the latest information, we’ll share any more updates about the Construction Design Management regulations in the future.

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