16th June, 2020

CDM Client Duties Everyone Needs To Know

Every construction client should know about their legal CDM duties under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations. But it might surprise you to know that even if you're not a client, if you're a contractor or designer, you need to know about CDM client duties too.

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Every construction project has a client. It's the person who is having the construction work carried out. The person (or business) who says what they want to be done, appoints designers and contractors, pays the bills etc. Whatever type of construction work that's involved, maintenance, new build, refurbishment, demolition, the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM) apply.

And everyone needs to be aware of client duties under CDM, not just clients. When we say everyone, we mean everyone involved in construction projects. We don't mean that they should start teaching CDM client duties at primary school! But certainly, if you are involved in a construction project of any shape or size, even if you are not the client, you need to be aware of the CDM client duties:

Get help understanding and complying with client duties in the free CDM duty holder guide for clients.

It goes without saying that every construction client should know about their legal duties under CDM. After all, the client has to make sure they carry out their duties on the project. And as you can see in the list above, there are quite a few duties to be aware of.

But if you're not a client, and you're a designer or a contractor for example, then you don't need to worry about client duties, right? After all, you have your own CDM duties to worry about. Wrong! You do need to know about CDM client duties. In fact, it is your duty to, under the very same regulations.

9.—(1) A designer must not commence work in relation to a project unless satisfied that the client is aware of the duties owed by the client under these Regulations.

15.—(1) A contractor must not carry out construction work in relation to a project unless satisfied that the client is aware of the duties owed by the client under these Regulations.

So, you see, even though you will have your own CDM contractor duties or CDM designer duties to comply with, one of these responsibilities is to be satisfied that the client is aware of their duties too. In addition to your duties, you must also be aware of the client duties, and make sure the client is aware of those duties.

CDM domestic clients

You might even need to assist the client with their CDM duties, CDM is a team game after all. Everyone works together to create a safer project. In some cases, you might even need to carry out the client duties, when you're not the client, as is the case for domestic clients.

7.—(1) Where the client is a domestic client the duties in regulations 4(1) to (7) and 6 must be carried out by—

  1. the contractor for a project where there is only one contractor;
  2. the principal contractor for a project where there is more than one contractor; or
  3. the principal designer where there is a written agreement that the principal designer will fulfil those duties.

To comply with CDM, everyone involved in the project, in some way, should be aware of the client duties, and make sure that the client is aware. Because if the client is not aware of their duties, and doesn't comply with them, then it's not just the client at fault. And this could lead to CDM breaches and fines, not just for the client, but also for contractors and designers involved with the project.

Even if you are only involved in the planning stages, or acting as a subcontractor, you must check that the client is aware of their duties before starting work on the project.


Have all these duties got your head in a spin? Download our FREE CDM client duties fact sheet for a quick refresher!

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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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