3rd November, 2021

CDM 2015 Documents Explained

There are several documents required under CDM 2015. In this blog post, we look at which documents are required, and when. CDM 2015 has been around for a while, and the regulations apply to all construction projects in Great Britain. So, what documents do you need for your construction project?

CDM 2015 Documents Explained header image

CDM stands for the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015. This latest version of the regulations has been in force for over six years and applies to all construction projects in Great Britain.

There are three crucial documents required for construction projects under CDM 2015. The pre-construction information, the construction phase plan, and the health and safety file. These three documents contain the important health and safety information required at each stage of a construction project.

There were some slight tweaks between the previous 2007 version and the current 2015 version of the regulations. But these documents should sound familiar. The pre-construction information, the construction phase plan, and the health and safety file were also needed under the previous version of CDM. But WHEN we need them, and WHO is responsible for producing them, well, that has changed.

So even if you have been familiar with CDM for many years, it's worth a quick refresh to make sure you are up to speed with the latest CDM document requirements.

To simplify, let's look at each document individually.

The Pre-Construction Information

When is it required? The pre-construction phase.

Who's responsible? The client.

cdm client

The pre-construction information document is required on every construction project. No matter how big, small, short or long. It is the first CDM document to be produced, as it is required before work starts on site. But it's needed even earlier than construction work starting.

It's required at the very start of the project. It's not just contractors that need this information to work safely, but designers too. The information included in the pre-construction information is needed for designers and contractors planning the work. It will tell them where hazards are on site, and what unusual risks or constraints might impact the design and the construction work.

Ultimately, the responsibility for providing this information falls on the client. It is one of the CDM 2015 client duties.

(4) A client must provide pre-construction information as soon as is practicable to every designer and contractor appointed, or being considered for appointment, to the project.

But the client will often have help putting the information together. When a principal designer has been appointed by the client, the principal designer will assist the client in the development of the pre-construction information.

You can find out more about the appointments a client must make, and client duties under CDM, in the free CDM duty holder guide for clients.

The pre-construction information should be available on every construction project. It's a legal requirement under CDM for projects of all sizes. No matter how small, and regardless of whether or not a principal designer is appointed. This was also the case under the old CDM 2007 regulations, however, the CDM coordinator (now extinct) would assist the client. Now, this is one of the duties of the principal designer instead.

The pre-construction information includes information about the project, arrangements and the client brief. It should also include health and safety information about hazards on the site. This will be information like surveys and plans already in the client's possession or obtained by the client. It may also include information from any existing health and safety file.

Still unsure about what you need to include? Find out more in our blog post what is the pre-construction information?

The Construction Phase Plan

When is it required? The construction phase.

Who's responsible? The principal contractor.

cdm principal contractor

Like the pre-construction information, the construction phase plan is also required on every construction project.

Previously, under the old 2007 regulations, the construction phase plan was only required on notifiable projects. However, under the 2015 regulations, things have changed. The construction phase plan must now be produced on any project, regardless of size or duration.

The principal contractor is responsible for producing the construction phase plan unless there is only one contractor involved in the project, in which case, the sole contractor must create it.

You can use the information provided in the pre-construction information to help develop the construction phase plan. The hazards present on the site will need to be addressed, along with arrangements for managing health and safety during the project.

The construction phase plan must be developed before work starts on site. This document contains information on how health and safety will be managed on the site, throughout the construction phase.

You might not know all your plans from the start, for example, later activities in the project. And, of course, things can change during the project. So you can revise and add information to the construction phase plan document as you progress through the project. E.g. if new trades start and additional activities or arrangements need to be addressed.

(4) Throughout the project the principal contractor must ensure that the construction phase plan is appropriately reviewed, updated and revised from time to time so that it continues to be sufficient to ensure that construction work is carried out, so far as is reasonably practicable, without risks to health or safety.

Got questions about the construction phase plan? Find out more in Construction Phase Plans Explained (What, When, Who And Why).

The Health and Safety File

When is it required? Project completion.

Who's responsible? The principal designer.

cdm principal designer

The health and safety file is the final document to be produced under CDM. This document gets handed over to the client on project completion for them to keep. It contains health and safety information needed for future use, cleaning and maintenance of the building or structure.

Unlike the other two documents covered in this post, the health and safety file isn't required on every construction project. It must be produced on any project with more than one contractor (including subcontractors). This is whenever there is a principal designer appointed since the principal designer must be appointed on any project with more than one contractor.

So, if you need a principal designer, you'll need a health and safety file too.

It is the principal designer's duty to develop the health and safety file. But not alone. They will produce the file with information gathered from the project team.

The principal designer should start preparing the file during the pre-construction phase. The file will then be developed throughout the project and handed over to the client on completion.

Find out more about what needs to be included in CDM Health And Safety File Contents (What You Should Include).

(5) During the pre-construction phase, the principal designer must prepare a health and safety file appropriate to the characteristics of the project which must contain information relating to the project which is likely to be needed during any subsequent project to ensure the health and safety of any person.

The principal contractor, other contractors and designers all need to provide relevant information to be included in the health and safety file. On some projects, the principal designer's appointment ends before project completion. In these cases, the file passes over to the principal contractor, who must then complete the file and hand it over to the client on completion.

Need help creating your health and safety file? Use the health and safety file template for your project.


When Needed: Duty Holders:
Pre-Construction Information All Projects Client, Principal Designer
Construction Phase Plan All Projects Principal Contractor or Sole Contractor
Health & Safety File Projects with more than one contractor Principal Designer, Principal Contractor

Need help creating documents for your CDM projects? Use our CDM document templates to get you started.

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This article was written by Emma at HASpod. Emma has over 10 years experience in health and safety and BSc (Hons) Construction Management. She is NEBOSH qualified and Tech IOSH.

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