‘Health and safety is everyone’s responsibility’ is an adage we all hear and say. It is a truth that is not always demonstrated by our working practices. The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM) confirm the actions we should all take to ensure our safety and the safety of others, whether we are working in a client organisation, as part of a design team or as a contractor on site.
For the quality professional CDM give us some basic parameters to aid the ISO 9001 requirement of demonstrating our ability to consistently meet customer and regulatory requirements where we, or our supply chain, are involved in design and construction.
The ISO 9001 PDCA cycle is evident in CDM with the construction phase plan establishing the objectives for a project and the resources needed to deliver results in accordance with customer requirements and the organization’s policies, and identify and address risks and opportunities.
The CDM Regulations, which were updated in 2015, apply to the design and construction process on all projects, where construction is to take place (however small), from concept through completion and ultimate de-commissioning.
So long as the work is not DIY, the regulations will apply.
Construction work does not only refer to new build projects but also includes the altering, fitting out, commissioning, renovation, repair, upkeep, redecoration or other maintenance.
Therefore even if we have a small team of facilities management contractors working in our premises our quality procedures need to address the requirements of the CDM regulations.
Construction industry players
The construction industry has three main groups of players (under CDM they are referred to as duty holders): the client, designers and contractors; and ensuring that there are clear requirements to define the responsibilities of these roles will be the cornerstone of the management systems. CDM and ISO 9001 both confirm that we need to address the competence of persons doing work under our control that affects the performance and effectiveness of the quality management system; it is necessary to assure that these persons are competent on the basis of appropriate skills, knowledge and experience.
The client is anyone for whom a construction project is carried out, and has an important role to play to ensure that the people and organisations they appoint have the skills to manage health and safety risks. This applies to both:
- Single contractor projects where the client will appoint the contractor and/or designers directly
- Projects involving more than one contractor where the client is required to appoint, in writing, a principal designer and a principal contractor.
Most clients, particularly those who only occasionally commission construction work, will not be experts in the construction process. For this reason, they are not required to take an active role in managing the work. However, the client is required to make suitable arrangements for managing the project so that health and safety is secured.
To be suitable, the arrangements should focus on the needs of the particular project and be proportionate to the size of the project and risks involved in the work.
If a client requires assistance in making these arrangements, the principal designer should be in a position to help with this. Clients could also draw on the advice of a competent person, if they are required to appoint such a person under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
If a client decides not to appoint a principal designer or a principal ontractor where required, the client must fulfil those duties.
Designer and principal designer
A designer is an organisation or an individual who prepares or modifies a design for a construction project (including the design of temporary works), or arranges for or instructs someone else to do so.
Within CDM the principal designer has an important role in influencing how the risks to health and safety should be managed and incorporated into the wider management of a project. Decisions about the design taken during the pre-construction phase can have a significant effect on whether the project is delivered in a way that secures health and safety. The principal designer’s role involves coordinating the work of others in the project team to ensure that significant and foreseeable risks are managed throughout the design process.
The principal designer’s work should focus on ensuring the design work in the pre-construction phase contributes to the delivery of positive health and safety outcomes. Bringing together designers as early as possible in the project, and then on a regular basis, to ensure everyone carries out their duties, will help to achieve this.
The principal designer’s role can continue into the construction phase when design work is carried out and when gathering and preparing information for the health and safety file.
Principal designers must ensure that:
- Everyone involved in working on the pre-construction phase cooperates with each other.
- Designers comply with their duties. Appropriate checks should be made to ensure designers are dealing with design risks appropriately. This can be done as part of the design process and through regular progress meetings.
- Designers provide information about elements of the design that present significant risks that cannot be eliminated.
Within ISO 9001 design and development planning is similar to the requirements of CDM, creating an asset that is safe to build, maintain, use, refurbish and finally demolish.
CDM and ISO 9001 both ask the organization to consider issues that support delivery of a product that is better aligned to meeting requirements, with some examples shown in the following table.
|ISO 9001:2015||CDM 2015|
|(8.3.2) addresses the nature, duration and complexity of the design and development activities and the level of control expected for the design and development process by customers and other relevant interested parties.
Confirms the required process stages, including applicable design and development reviews and the need to control interfaces between persons involved in the design and development.
Notes that documented information is needed to demonstrate that design and development requirements have been met.
|Confirm that the designer advice will depend on the knowledge and experience of the client and the complexities of the project. The designer will also detail significant risks that cannot be eliminated with information about unusual or complex risks that are more likely to be missed or misunderstood by contractors or others on the project rather than risks that are well known and understood.
Address the nature and extent of design work, and that there may be a need to carry out design reviews, to enable the project team to focus on health and safety matters alongside other key aspects of the project.
Note that the level of detail covered should remain proportionate to the scale and complexity of the design work.
CDM support the quality professional, confirming the requirements that need to be addressed in the management processes and procedures and ensuring that the needs of ISO 9001 paragraph 8.3.4 design and development controls are met with some examples shown in the following table.
|ISO 9001:2015||CDM 2015|
|(para 8.3.4) asks that reviews are conducted to evaluate the ability of the results of design and development to meet requirements.
Also asks that validation activities are conducted to ensure that the resulting products and services meet the requirements for the specified application or intended use and that any necessary actions are taken on problems determined during the reviews, or verification and validation activities.
|Confirm that reviews are likely to continue throughout the project although their frequency and the level of detail covered should remain proportionate to the scale and complexity of the design work.
Notes that appropriate checks should be made to ensure designers are dealing with design risks appropriately. This can be done as part of the design process and through regular progress meetings.
Contractor and principal contractor
The principal contractor is the organisation or person that coordinates the work during the construction phase of a project involving more than one contractor, so it is carried out in a way that secures health and safety. Appointed by the client, the principal contractor must possess the skills, knowledge, and experience, and (if an organisation) the organisational capability to carry out their role effectively given the scale and complexity of the project and the nature of the health and safety risks involved.
Contractors include sub-contractors, any individual, sole trader, self-employed worker, or business that carries out, manages or controls construction work as part of their business.
There are two vital documents to be created for the project, that sit neatly with the ISO 9001 requirement for planning, within the PDCA cycle, confirming that harnessing CDM will assist the quality professional to plan for success by determining:
- Plan – what will be done, establish the objectives of the system and its processes, establish the resources needed to deliver results in accordance with client requirements and the organization’s policies, and identify and address risks and opportunities
- Do – what resources will be required to implement what was planned and who will be responsible
- Check – when it will be completed, monitor and (where applicable) measure processes and the resulting products and services against policies, objectives, requirements and planned activities, and report the results
- Act – how the results will be evaluated and the actions required to improve performance, as necessary.
The first of these is the construction phase plan which starts its life during the pre-construction phase and before setting up a construction site. The principal contractor must draw up a construction phase plan, which is required to set out the health and safety arrangements and site rules and needs to be suitable for the size and complexity of the project.
The second is the health and safety file which is prepared by the principal designer containing information appropriate to the size and complexity of the project which is likely be needed during any subsequent construction activity on the same structure.
The health and safety file will confirm typical records to be maintained from the very start of a project, as 7.5.1 documented information determined by the organization as being necessary for the effectiveness of the quality management system.
The construction phase plan will confirm the basic ISO 9001 requirements from a safety and health perspective; it will ensure that:
- Customer and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements are understood
- The risks and opportunities that can affect conformity of products and services are identified
- The focus on enhancing customer satisfaction is maintained.
The principal designer must assist the principal contractor in preparing the construction phase plan by providing to the principal contractor all information the principal designer holds that is relevant to the construction phase plan including pre-construction information obtained from the client and any information obtained from designers.
During the project, the principal contractor must provide the principal designer with any information in the principal contractor’s possession relevant to the health and safety file, for inclusion in the health and safety file.
Construction works become ‘notifiable’ if they will:
- last longer than 30 (actual) working days and have more than 20 workers working simultaneously at any time, or
- exceed 500 (actual) person days.
For these contracts the client must notify the relevant enforcing authority (the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) or Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR)) in writing, using form F10, before the construction phase begins.
- Managing health and safety in construction. Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. Guidance on Regulations. Series code L153
- BS EN ISO 9001:2015. Quality management systems. Requirements
Original article written by Mike Short, reviewed by Andy Harper and Kevin Rogers on behalf of the CQI, Construction Special Interest Group, and accepted for publication by the Competency Working Group on 7 March 2018