16th December, 2020

Do You Need A Construction Phase Plan For Small Projects?

There is a lot of confusion around the need for a CDM construction phase plan on small projects. In this post, we discuss why and when you need a construction phase plan, changes for small projects and provide information on our easy to use construction phase plan tool.

Do You Need A Construction Phase Plan For Small Projects? header image

The construction phase plan is a document that is required under the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations, also known as CDM. It's a document that is usually created by the principal contractor and tells everyone how to work safely on the construction site, the arrangements in place and the procedures to follow. But there is a lot of confusion around whether a construction phase plan is required on smaller projects. For example projects with only one contractor, domestic projects, and projects that are not notifiable.

Yes, you do need a construction phase plan on small projects. The CDM regulations require a construction phase plan to be produced on every construction project. That's right EVERY construction project. Even the tiniest construction projects, no matter how small, require a construction phase plan.

Let's not forget that the definition of construction under CDM covers all sorts of construction work, including maintenance, refurbishment, demolition, and even certain types of cleaning!

What about projects with only one contractor? Or only one man? Yes, they still need a construction phase plan. Usually, on projects with more than one contractor, a principal contractor is appointed, and they are responsible for producing the construction phase plan. On projects with only one contractor, it becomes that contractors responsibility to develop the plan.

(5) If there is only one contractor working on the project, the contractor must draw up a construction phase plan, or make arrangements for a construction phase plan to be drawn up, as soon as is practicable prior to setting up a construction site.

What about domestic clients, and projects in peoples homes? Yes, a construction phase plan is still required for these projects. Domestic clients have exemptions, but for the rest of the project team, contractor and designers, CDM still applies in full.

You need a construction phase plan on:

If the rules are so simple, that you need a construction phase plan on every project, where does the confusion come from?

Well, in previous versions of the regulations, like CDM 2007, the construction phase plan was only required on notifiable projects. So it was usually only needed on bigger projects, and it would always be completed by the principal contractor. If you were a contractor that always worked on shorter projects, or under a principal contractor, you didn't need to worry about producing a construction phase plan. But in the latest version of the regulations, CDM 2015, construction phase plans are now needed on all projects.

If you're not sure what a construction phase plan is, or what it needs to contain, find out more in Construction Phase Plans Explained (What, When, Who And Why)

Why do you need a construction phase plan on small projects?

Now we have established you need a construction phase plan on all construction projects, you might be wondering why. Why under the 2007 regulations were construction phase plans only needed on bigger projects, and now they are necessary on all projects?

Construction phase plan folders

Well, the answer is fairly straight forward, whatever size your construction project, health and safety is still an important consideration. Accidents happen just as much on small projects as they do on large ones. In fact, you can even be at more risk on a smaller site as it might not have the same procedures and controls in place as a larger site.

The size or duration of a project is not an indication of the risk level. You may carry out a short project such as demolishing a building over 5 days, that is a much higher risk over a longer duration project installing partitions over 2 months for example.

Some smaller projects can be low risk, of course. There is no one size fits all approach to risk management, and the health and safety risks should be approached on a project by project basis. It's understandable if you are carrying out a small amount of maintenance work, that you may think producing a full-blown construction phase plan is overkill.

And maybe you would be right! But not just because your project is small, or short. But because the work you are doing is low risk. The key here is that the construction phase plan should be proportionate to the scale and complexity of the project and the risks involved.

Just because your project is small, doesn't mean the risks are. But if the work you're carrying out is low risks, then, of course, your construction phase plan will be much more straightforward as it will require fewer arrangements to manage those risks. You don't need to pack your plan full of information and procedures that are not relevant or don't apply to your project. You should only include the specific arrangements that you need.


If you need help creating your construction phase plan, you can use our construction phase plan template to create the perfect document for your project.

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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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