28th October, 2020

The History Of The CDM Regulations

The CDM Regulations have been in force in the UK construction industry now for over 25 years. But like many things, they have changed and developed over time, with big updates in 2007 and 2015. Have they got better over time? Let's take a look at the history of CDM.

The History Of The CDM Regulations header image

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (known as CDM) have been around since 1994 when the first version of the regulations was introduced. And the regulations are still going strong over 25 years later. Some roles (the planning supervisor, the CDM coordinator) have come and gone along the way. The current 2015 version was not the first time you needed a construction phase plan, but it was the first introduction to the role of the principal designer.

While role and requirements might differ through each version, as tweaks and changes are made, the fundamental idea of improving health and safety in construction remains.

Let’s take a look at the history of the CDM Regulations.


Step back in time to 1994. Back in the olden days, we still used landlines, not many people had a mobile phone, you couldn't stream movies through the internet and if you were out you had to record the TV onto tapes.

CDM 1994 was the first version of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations, and, actually, CDM 1994 came into force in March 1995 but let us not confuse things! Introducing the roles of the planning supervisor and the principal contractor, this first version also introduced the need to notify the HSE of your project. With no online notification form in these days, you would send your form in the post or fax it if you were up with the latest technology!

7.—(1) The planning supervisor shall ensure that notice of the project in respect of which he is appointed is given to the Executive in accordance with paragraphs (2) to (4) unless the planning supervisor has reasonable grounds for believing that the project is not notifiable.

This first version of the regulations introduced CDM roles and responsibilities, much less on the client compared to the rest of the project team, and introduced the health and safety plan (now known as the construction phase plan).

While the principal contractor role has stood the test of time, the planning supervisor is confined to the history books, as it was removed after this set of the CDM regulations.


Fast forward to 2007 and after more than 12 years the next generation of CDM comes into force. This set of the CDM regulations now includes welfare requirements combining the prior Construction (Health Safety and Welfare) Regulations under the CDM umbrella.

Gone is the planning supervisor, and in its place, is the new CDM coordinator role. There are some similarities with the two roles, although the CDM coordinator is expected to taking a more hands-on approach in carrying out CDM duties. In another similarity, the CDM coordinator role only lasted for one version of the regulations.

20.—(1) The CDM co-ordinator shall—

  1. give suitable and sufficient advice and assistance to the client on undertaking the measures he needs to take to comply with these Regulations during the project (including, in particular, assisting the client in complying with regulations 9 and 16);
  2. ensure that suitable arrangements are made and implemented for the co-ordination of health and safety measures during planning and preparation for the construction phase

Unlike the previous version of the regulations, which only applied to notifiable projects, CDM 2007 applies to all construction projects no matter the size or duration, apart from those with domestic clients. None-notifiable projects have fewer duties, like not needing to appoint a CDM coordinator or develop a construction phase plan.

CDM 2007 introduced the pre-construction information, and the health and safety plan becomes known as the construction phase plan. More emphasis is placed on client duties, with the exception of domestic clients and their projects.


Only 8 years this time before the next version of CDM is introduced. This time the CDM coordinator gets the chop and a new duty holder is introduced, the principal designer. This puts the main responsibility of CDM compliance during the planning stages of the project within the design team. However, once again, more emphasis is placed on the client compared to the previous version, who is now also in charge of notification to the HSE, and of course, the appointment of a suitable project team.

From appointment requirements to domestic projects and notification, here are 10 differences between CDM 2007 and CDM 2015.

The principal designer takes on the responsibility of health and safety at the pre-construction phase, ensuring that CDM compliance is taken care of up until work starts on site. The principal contractor remains responsible during the construction phase. The only exception to this in on single contractor project, where the sole contractor will take charge.

11.—(1) The principal designer must plan, manage and monitor the pre-construction phase and coordinate matters relating to health and safety during the pre-construction phase to ensure that, so far as is reasonably practicable, the project is carried out without risks to health or safety.

Documentation, appointment and notification requirements are tweaked slightly, and the exemption for domestic projects is gone. Projects with domestic clients are no longer exempt. Domestic clients still get a free pass, but unlike the previous 2007 version, other duties holders must still fully comply with all the requirements on domestic projects.

In this latest version of the regulations, notification no longer triggers additional duties. Regardless of CDM notification requirements, all construction projects must comply in full with CDM 2015.

Get a deeper dive into CDM with our free CDM duty holder guides, and check if your project complies with the current regulations by using the CDM compliance checklist.

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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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