Roles And Responsibilities Of Clients and Their Contractors

When embarking on a construction project, understanding the roles and responsibilities of each party involved is critical for a smooth process, compliance with legal requirements, and, ultimately, the successful completion of the project. The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015) provides a legal framework for managing health, safety, and welfare on construction projects in the UK. This includes clearly defining the duties of various stakeholders, such as the client, principal contractor, contractor, and designer.

This comprehensive guide will delve into clients’ and their contractors’ specific roles and responsibilities under the CDM 2015 regulations. Whether you’re a business planning to engage contractors for construction projects or a professional working within the industry, this guide will provide the essential understanding you need to ensure all parties comply with their respective obligations, contributing to a safer and more effective construction environment.

Construction (Design and Management) (CDM 2015) Regulations

Businesses often engage contractors for construction projects at one time or another to build, convert or extend premises and demolish buildings. The CDM 2015 Regulations apply to all construction projects.

All projects require the following:

  • Clients to check the competence of all their appointees; ensure suitable management arrangements for the project; allow sufficient time and resources for all stages; and provide pre-construction information to designers and contractors. There are special arrangements under regulations for domestic clients (see later in this section);
  • Designers to eliminate, reduce or control hazards and reduce risks during the design and construction stage and the maintenance and use of a building once it is built. They should also provide information about the remaining risks; 
  • contractors to plan, manage and monitor their work and that of employees; check the competence of all their appointees and employees; train their employees; provide information to their employees; comply with the requirements for health and safety on-site detailed in Part 4 of the Regulations and other Regulations such as the Work at Height Regulations, and ensure there are adequate welfare facilities for their employees;
  • Everyone, including workers, to: assure their competence; cooperate with others and coordinate work to ensure the health and safety of construction workers and others who may be affected by the work; report obvious risks; take account of the general principles of prevention in planning or carrying out construction work, and comply with the requirements in Part 4 of CDM 2015 and other relevant regulations for any work under their control.
Client Roles And Responsibilities

For even small projects, clients should ensure that contractors provide:

  • Information regarding the contractor’s health and safety policy
  • Information on the contractor’s health and safety organization detailing the responsibilities of individuals; 
  • Information on the contractor’s procedures and standards of safe working; 
  • The method statements for the project in hand; 
  • Details on how the contractor will audit and implement its health and safety procedures; 
  • Procedures for investigating incidents and learning the lessons from them.

Smaller contractors may need some guidance to help them produce suitable method statements. While they do not need to be lengthy, they should set out those features essential to safe working, for example, access arrangements, PPE, control of chemical risks, and fire precautions. 

Copies of relevant risk assessments for the undertaken should be requested. These need not be very detailed but should indicate the risk and the control methods to be used. 

The client, principal designer, designer, principal contractor, and others have specific roles under CDM 2015 Regulations. 

Contractor And Client

Roles And Responsibilities Of Clients and Their Contractors

1. client

In the context of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015), the client is the party for whom a construction project is carried out. This could be an individual, a company, a local authority, or another organization. The role and responsibilities of the client are particularly crucial in ensuring the overall safety and successful execution of the project.

Here are the roles and responsibilities of the client:

  • Project Management: The client is responsible for effectively managing the project. This entails allocating adequate time and resources to the project, ensuring safety regulations are adhered to, and confirming that construction is carried out as safely as possible. The client should also ensure that efficient communication and coordination processes are in place for all parties involved in the project.
  • Welfare Regulations Compliance: The client must ensure that all welfare requirements, as outlined in Schedule 2 of the CDM regulations, are met. This includes providing suitable and sufficient sanitary and washing facilities, drinking water, and places for rest, among other provisions.
  • Appointment of Principal Designer and Principal Contractor: If the project is likely to have more than one contractor, the client must appoint a principal designer and a principal contractor in writing. The principal designer manages the pre-construction phase, focusing on eliminating health and safety risks in the design, while the principal contractor oversees the project’s construction phase. If the client fails to appoint a principal designer, they must take on the duties of that role themselves.
  • Provision of Pre-Construction Information: The client is responsible for providing all relevant information to each designer and contractor involved in the project. This pre-construction information may include details about the site, existing structures, and any significant design and construction hazards.
  • Health and Safety Management: The client should take reasonable steps to maintain and review health and safety arrangements throughout the project. This involves regularly checking and confirming that the measures are still effective and adapting them as necessary.
  • Regulatory Compliance Monitoring: The client must ensure that the principal designer and principal contractor comply with their duties under the CDM regulations. This involves overseeing their activities and intervening if non-compliance is indicated.
  • Construction Phase Plan Oversight: The client is responsible for ensuring that a construction phase plan is drawn up by the principal contractor (or the contractor if only one is used) before the construction phase begins. This plan outlines the health and safety arrangements, site rules, and specific measures concerning high-risk activities.
  • Health and Safety File Management: The client must ensure the principal designer prepares and maintains an appropriate health and safety file for the project. This file should include information on any asbestos present, as required under the Control of Asbestos Regulations, and should be kept available for inspection. If ownership of the project changes, this file should be passed on to the new client.

It’s important to note that domestic clients, who have construction work carried out on their own homes, automatically transfer their duties to the contractor or principal contractor unless there is a written agreement to the contrary. However, they are still expected to cooperate with their contractor and provide information about the property when needed.

Role Of Client

2. principal contractor

The principal contractor plays a significant role in construction projects, particularly in managing the construction phase, ensuring overall safety, and coordinating various project elements. Appointed by the client, the principal contractor can be an individual or organization primarily responsible for the construction work. Their duties are under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015).

Here are the roles and responsibilities of the principal contractor:

  • Construction Phase Management: The principal contractor coordinates and manages all construction activities. This involves ensuring that the construction work is carried out as safely as possible, considering the known hazards and risks, and applying suitable control measures.
  • Preparation of Construction Phase Plan: The principal contractor must prepare a comprehensive plan before setting up the site. This plan should provide a framework for managing the health and safety aspects of the project during the construction phase. It must be reviewed regularly and revised to accommodate project or working conditions changes.
  • Coordination of Legal Requirements and Implementation of Plan: The principal contractor should ensure effective coordination of legal requirements and the construction phase plan among all people on-site. This involves actively monitoring work practices and procedures to ensure compliance with health and safety regulations and the plan’s directives.
  • Site Health and Safety Rules: The principal contractor must establish necessary site health and safety rules and ensure all workers adhere to them. These rules should be clear, understood by all workers, and enforced consistently.
  • Site Induction: Suitable site induction must be provided by the principal contractor. This induction should inform all workers about the site’s health, safety, welfare arrangements, emergency procedures, and site-specific risks.
  • Control of Site Access: The principal contractor should control access to the site to prevent unauthorized entry. This may involve implementing security measures like fencing, signage, and possibly security personnel.
  • Provision of Welfare Facilities: Throughout the construction phase, the principal contractor must meet the welfare requirements outlined in Schedule 2 of the CDM regulations. This includes clean and accessible toilets, handwashing facilities, rest areas, and drinking water.
  • Liaison with the Principal Designer: Regular communication must be between the principal contractor and the principal designer. This is crucial in managing the construction phase plan and updating the health and safety file. Information sharing and decision-making should be collaborative to ensure the safety and welfare of everyone involved in the project.
  • Health and Safety File Management: The principal contractor is responsible for updating, reviewing, and revising the health and safety file as necessary. This document should reflect any changes during the construction phase and must be updated with the most recent information regarding the project’s health and safety.

By fulfilling these duties, the principal contractor helps to ensure that the construction project is executed safely and successfully, in compliance with relevant regulations.

Contractor Roles And Responsibilities

3. contractor

A contractor in a construction project plays an essential role in ensuring that the construction work is completed safely and effectively. Contractors can be organizations or individuals undertaking or managing construction work as part of their business. Under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015), contractors have specific duties and responsibilities.

Here are the roles and responsibilities of the contractor:

  • Ensure Client’s Awareness of Duties: Before starting construction work, the contractor must ensure that the client is fully aware of their duties under the CDM 2015. This involves having open conversations about responsibilities and ensuring the client understands their health and safety regulations obligations.
  • Planning, Management, and Monitoring of Construction Work: The contractor must plan, manage, and monitor the construction process to ensure it is conducted safely. This involves identifying potential hazards, planning work to mitigate these risks, and constantly monitoring operations to ensure adherence to safety standards and procedures.
  • Construction Phase Plan: If no principal contractor is assigned, the contractor is responsible for drawing up a construction phase plan before setting up the site. The plan provides a framework for managing health and safety during construction and must be revised to account for changes.
  • Provision of Information and Instructions: The contractor must ensure that all workers receive appropriate information and instructions to do their jobs safely. This includes delivering a suitable site induction, explaining emergency procedures, and sharing information about risks identified by risk assessments.
  • Health and Safety Training: The contractor must provide any other health and safety training required by the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations. This may include training in safe equipment use, safe manual handling practices, and first aid.
  • Control of Site Access: Work should not begin until measures have been put in place to control access to the site and prevent unauthorized entry. This may include physical barriers, signage, and security protocols.
  • Provision of Welfare Facilities: The contractor must ensure that welfare facilities, as stipulated in Schedule 2 of the CDM regulations, are available for their employees and others under their control. These facilities could include toilets, washing facilities, rest areas, and access to drinking water.
  • Compliance with Directions and Site Rules: Contractors must comply with directions given by the principal designer or principal contractor and adhere to any site rules. This helps maintain a uniform approach to safety and management throughout the project.
  • Worker Consultation: Contractors must consult their workers about health and safety issues. This encourages a collaborative approach to safety management and ensures workers have a voice in matters that affect their well-being.

By complying with these roles and responsibilities, the contractor plays an integral part in ensuring the safety and success of a construction project.

Understanding the roles and responsibilities of clients, principal contractors, contractors, and designers under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015) is pivotal for successfully executing any construction project. When fulfilled effectively, these roles help ensure the safety, health, and welfare of all those involved in the project, from initial conception to completion.

Moreover, they help to ensure regulatory compliance, minimize risks, and create a culture of proactive health and safety management, ultimately leading to better project outcomes. Therefore, it’s essential for all stakeholders to thoroughly understand and adhere to their duties as outlined in the CDM 2015 regulations for a safe, efficient, and compliant construction environment.

This resource is provided by Contractor Compliance, a contractor management software for health and safety professionals.