3rd August, 2021
Painters and decorators are often familiar with CDM from working on larger construction projects, perhaps under a principal contractor. But what about smaller projects, like painting a hallway or a room in someone's house? How does CDM apply to painting and decorating work?
Painters and decorators don't always work on construction sites. And they don't always work on projects with other builders and contractors. Sometimes, a client will contact you to work on their home, their office, or a rental property, for example. They might fancy a change of colour, or it might just need a touch-up.
CDM stands for the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations. It's a set of health and safety regulations that apply to construction work and places rules and duties on everyone involved, from clients to designers and contractors. CDM aims to make construction work safer, and it's a legal requirement. Failure to comply with CDM can lead to fines, prosecutions and even prison time.
The question of whether CDM applies, as always, comes down to the definition of construction work. If the work is construction work, then CDM applies. Does CDM apply when you are working in occupied buildings or someones home? Let's take a look.
It's not unusual for painters to think that if they are working on their own, in a customers house, that no construction work is happening. There's no builders, no structural alterations, no plant or machinery. It's just a simple coat (or two) of paint. But actually, the CDM regulations set out information for what gets defined as construction work. And it covers more than you might think.
construction work means the carrying out of any building, civil engineering or engineering construction work and includes—
- the construction, alteration, conversion, fitting out, commissioning, renovation, repair, upkeep, redecoration or other maintenance (including cleaning which involves the use of water or an abrasive at high pressure, or the use of corrosive or toxic substances), de-commissioning, demolition or dismantling of a structure;
As you can see, redecoration comes within the definition of construction work. What does this mean? It means even if no other contractors or construction work is involved in your project, as a painter and decorator, you need to be aware of CDM. It applies to your work, even if no other contractors are involved.
Any, and every, construction project with more than one contractor needs to have a principal contractor.
If you are working as a painter and decorator for a client, and no other contractors are involved in the project (and you won't be appointing any subcontractors) then a principal contractor is not needed.
If there are any other contractors or subcontractors involved, then you must have a principal contractor.
If you're appointing these subcontractors yourself, like a scaffolder for access scaffolding or a plasterer for patching up, then it might make sense for you to be the principal contractor. If there are other aspects of the work that you're not involved in, or the client is managing the project, or a builder is involved, then someone else might be the principal contractor.
The principal contractor will have overall control of the project and has some extra responsibilities, such as preparing the construction phase plan, organising the works and managing health and safety on site.
Find out more about the principal contractor role in our free CDM duty holder guide for principal contractors.
If you are the only contractor, then slightly different rules apply. You don't need a principal contractor, and instead, you must prepare the construction phase plan and are responsible for health and safety on site.
Find out more in CDM for only one contractor.
What about domestic projects, like working in someone's house? Are you not exempt from CDM?
No, you're not. But this is a common misconception. Under previous versions of CDM, there were some exemptions on domestic projects. But in the latest version of CDM, the only member of the team who has any exemptions is the domestic client themselves - and this can mean extra duties for the rest of the project team. So if anything, there's more to think about on domestic projects, not less.
Domestic clients have their client duties transferred to other members of the project team - that could be you. And on top of this, as a contractor, you still have the same CDM duties as any other project.
In fact, on a domestic project with multiple contractors, the principal contractor role can be appointed automatically. So make sure you know and understand the project structure before you start work to make sure that everyone understands their CDM duties.
Now we know that CDM will apply to your projects, how do you comply with it as a painter and decorator?
First of all, you will be glad to know that CDM is proportional. That means that if you are working on a small project, e.g. redecorating a room, then you're not expected to have the same procedures in place as a large construction project, like a big demolition project.
If you have good health and safety systems in place, you are probably well on your way to complying with CDM. But, there are a few extra duties you should be aware of, whether you are a principal contractor or a contractor. The good news is, we have some free CDM guides to help you.
If you're working on a construction project with other contractors, the principal contractor should provide you with the construction phase plan, site induction and rules. They will manage health and safety during the construction, and you will comply with your contractor duties.
If you're the only contractor, then don't forget you will have some additional responsibilities on top of your contractor duties.
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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