Does CDM Apply To Landscaping Work? header image

9th April, 2018

Does CDM Apply To Landscaping Work?

The CDM regulations apply to all construction projects, no matter how long, in both residential and commercial sectors.

But are landscaping works construction projects? And does CDM apply?

The definition of construction work under CDM includes...

2. Interpretation

“construction work” means...

(b)the preparation for an intended structure, including site clearance, exploration, investigation (but not site survey) and excavation (but not pre-construction archaeological investigations), and the clearance or preparation of the site or structure for use or occupation at its conclusion;

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015

So certainly, when landscaping works are involved for the preparation of a site for an intended structure, then CDM will apply.

And, if the works are part of a construction project, then the landscaping contractor will have contractor CDM duties, and must comply with the site rules and cooperate with the principal contractor, principal designer and other CDM duty holders.

What about landscaping works carried out on there own, no building being constructed, and no other contractors involved?

You might think that CDM would not apply in these situations.

Maybe not in terms of some soft landscaping activities.

However, hard landscaping (work on the structure of the garden or grounds) would almost certainly come under the definition of construction work under CDM.


Because the term structure does not just apply to buildings.

Let's take a look at the definition of a structure under CDM...

2. Interpretation

“structure” means...

(a)any building, timber, masonry, metal or reinforced concrete structure, railway line or siding, tramway line, dock, harbour, inland navigation, tunnel, shaft, bridge, viaduct, waterworks, reservoir, pipe or pipeline, cable, aqueduct, sewer, sewage works, gasholder, road, airfield, sea defence works, river works, drainage works, earthworks, lagoon, dam, wall, caisson, mast, tower, pylon, underground tank, earth retaining structure or structure designed to preserve or alter any natural feature and fixed plant;

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015

How can landscapers comply with CDM?

In the cases where CDM does apply to your project, as a landscaping contractor, there are things you will need to do to comply.

Where you are the sole contractor, or working under a Principal Contractor as part of a bigger project, you will need to comply with contractor duties (see our free guide to CDM contractor duties).

If you will be using subcontractors then you may need to carry out the duties of the principal contractors (see our free guide to CDM principal contractor duties).

Where you are also responsible for the for some or all of the design, you will have CDM designer duties (see our free guide to CDM designer duties). If there are multiple contractors, this may mean that you are the principal designer, or that the client needs to appoint one (see our free guide to CDM principal designer duties).

Whatever your CDM role, you need to make sure that the client is aware of their own duties under CDM, and ensure that the project is notified if necessary.

cdm landscaping excavation

A common sense CDM approach

If you're new to CDM, hearing about appointments and notifications can all sound a little scary. It's important to remember that the purpose of CDM is to improve safety.

You will already be doing most of the things you need to do to comply with CDM. Like planning how to carry out your work safely, communicating with the client and other contractors, and assessing risks.

The HSE has advised that where good health and safety practice is being followed the differences between a project where the CDM Regulations apply and one where they do not are likely to be minimal.

The CDM documents you create for your project should be proportionate to the project. So, if it's not relevant to the landscaping work you are carrying out, then it shouldn't be included in your paperwork.

For example, when you are gathering pre-construction information from the client, information on any underground services is certainly going to help make sure you don't get any unexpected surprises during the work.

You probably check this sort of information, it's just that under CDM it has a name.

Your inductions, toolbox talks, and the information you provide to your team should always be relevant so that they are effective.

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