property renovations, self builders and renovators, renovation sites, principal contractor, principal designer

New Changes In UK’s Health And Safety Laws You Need To Know

Starting 6 April 2015, homeowners performing their own property renovations and home builds are now covered by revised CDM regulations that focus on regulations intended for health and safety on renovation sites.

For the most part, the new rules on Health and Safety Management won’t get in the way of self builders and renovators. But for some special cases, the rules may disrupt and bring confusion into the process we’ve been accustomed to.

The most important rule introduced in the CDM, probably, is the one giving the Principal Contractor and Principal Designer the chief responsibility for meeting the CDM regulations when it comes to domestic building projects.

Under the new rules, the Principal Contractor (PC), who is responsible for Health and Safety on the site itself, will be the main contractor, and the Principal Designer (PD), responsible for planning and building-in risk management at the design stage, will be your designer.

New Responsibilities of a Principal Contractor:

  • Create and implement an overall safety planning based on the “Construction Phase Safety Plan;”
  • Keep an open line of communication with hired tradesmen to keep track of potential safety issues in their areas of specialisation
  • Notify HSE in case construction takes more than 500 days to finish
  • On-site supervision such as purchasing and hire-ins

Now that we are on the topic of procurement, the procurement process for materials also received drastic rule changes from the new CDM.

I highly recommend hiring a main contractor in the meantime while we’re all still figuring out the new rules, so that he or she will be saddled with the role of PC. But if you’re planning to hire trade contractors and subcontractors on your own, then the only option for you is to take the PC role yourself.

If you’re entirely doing DIY projects , you can breathe easy since the new rules do not apply to you! A project classed as DIY, doesn’t fall under the CDM regulations

property renovations, self builders and renovators, renovation sites, principal contractor, principal designer

With the new rules, it’s important to create a design which would consider health, safety, and future maintenance

New Responsibilities of a Principal Designer:

  • Create a design which would consider health, safety, and future maintenance
  • Co-ordinating with the client (if you have one) and principal contractor

There a few things that need to be clarified in these new responsibilities imposed to Principal Designers.

First question: Would the rules still apply if you are designing your own home?

Second question: How about companies using their own products? Who will be considered as a Principal Designer within the company?

In this second question, I know that by the letter of the law the system company would be treated as the principal designer, however, I know for a fact that most of them are generally unwilling to take on the responsibility, unless it is turnkey.

For more info on HSE guidelines for safety, you may access their handy Construction Phase Plan (CDM 2015) here: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/cis80.pdf

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