7th December, 2021

Construction Phase Plans Explained (What, When, Who And Why)

What is a construction phase plan? When is it required, and who writes it? A construction phase plan is a document required under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM). In this blog post, we explain the what, when, who, and why, of construction phase plans.

Construction Phase Plans Explained (What, When, Who And Why) header image

If you work in construction or become involved in a construction project for the first time, you are likely to hear the term 'construction phase plan'.

But what is a construction phase plan? When is it required, and who writes it?

Let's answer all those questions and more.


What is a construction phase plan?

A construction phase plan is a health and safety document required under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations - often referred to as CDM.

The CDM Regulations apply to every construction project, regardless of size or duration, commercial or residential.

Sometimes referred to as the construction phase health and safety plan, or the CPP, the construction phase plan is a document required by the CDM regulations on all projects. That's right - every construction project needs a construction phase plan.

The construction phase plan is a health and safety management document for the project. It outlines the plan for how the work will be completed safely. It will include details of the project, the type of work, the team and emergency arrangements.

What does a construction phase plan contain?

The contents of the plan should be specific to the project. Because every construction project is different. Different sites. Different teams. Different work. Your construction phase plan should detail how you will manage health and safety issues on your site.

How will you deal with the hazards and risks involved? How will you manage the contractors? How will you deal with unique challenges, like site constraints or unusual design features?

It is good practice to refer to your standard procedures, but do not include them all within your construction phase plan as it will drown out the site-specific information that your workforce needs to know.

The construction phase plan is not a catalogue of risk assessments and method statements for individual tasks and activities on the project. These are separate documents required by all contractors involved in the project.

construction hard hats

Here are the key headings that you are likely to cover in your construction phase plan:

Project Description

In this section, you will outline the scope of the work and project information. You should also include details of the project team, including the management team (client, principal designer, designers, principal contractor, and other consultants), along with subcontractors and key suppliers.

Project Management

The construction phase plan is a health and safety management document, and this should be an extensive section setting out management arrangements for the work.

The management structure of the project should be detailed, for example, the site manager and other people with health and safety responsibilities. You should also include arrangements for management procedures such as inductions, training, security, welfare, accident management and liaison between the parties on site.

You will also provide information on the project safety goals, site rules, along with your fire and emergency procedures.

Arrangements for Controlling Safety Risks

In the section before, you looked at the general management of the project. Now, you need to go into more detail on any significant safety risks.

Give extra consideration to any activities that are likely to increase the risk of accidents on site.

Identify safety risks, and plan how to control the risks adequately. This will include arrangements for dealing with services, structures, excavations, fragile materials, lifting operations, and plant or equipment on site.

Thought should be given to traffic routes and deliveries, planned storage of materials on the site, and any risk to the public.

Arrangements for Controlling Health Risks

Just like safety risks, health risks should be identified and controlled.

This section of the construction phase plan details how you will manage health risks throughout the project.

Consider any hazards that are likely to put the health of operatives, visitors or members of the public at risk. It could include health risks such as asbestos, contaminated land, radiation and hazardous substances.

You can also cover activities like manual handling, exposure to noise, dust and vibration in this section.

The Health and Safety File

The health and safety file is a different document required under CDM. Unlike the construction phase plan, it isn't required until the end of the project. However, information for the file gets collected throughout the project.

In this section, outline the arrangements for gathering information for the health and safety file. You can also specify the proposed layout of the file and the format of the information needed.

Use the construction phase plan review to check you have covered the contents needed for your plan.

When is a construction phase plan required?

Before 2015, you only needed construction phase plans on notifiable projects. However, following an update to the regulations in 2015, construction phase plans are now required on all construction projects.

Yes, that's right, ALL construction projects.

For every type of project, from residential to commercial. And any duration, from work lasting only a matter of hours to more than a year. If it's construction work, a construction phase plan is needed.

residential construction project

So, no matter what size project you are working on, if it falls under the definition of construction work, you must make sure there is a construction phase plan in place.

You must prepare your construction phase plan before work begins on site. You can't start work without one.

When should a construction phase plan be updated?

You're probably going to need to update your construction phase plan at some point. Construction projects can take time to complete, and sometimes things change. Or things come up that you didn't (or couldn't) plan for when you started.

And in construction, that's totally normal. But don't forget that when things change, it might introduce new risks or hazards. Or you might need to update your management arrangements.

The construction phase plan should be updated as necessary throughout the project as work progresses and things develop, for example, if plans or arrangements change. And you must let your team know about the changes.

(4) Throughout the project the principal contractor must ensure that the construction phase plan is appropriately reviewed, updated and revised from time to time so that it continues to be sufficient to ensure that construction work is carried out, so far as is reasonably practicable, without risks to health or safety.

As some project details may not be known or finalised at the commencement of construction work, the construction phase plan should be viewed as a live document. Update your plan as necessary throughout the project.

The important requirement is that the construction phase plan is up to date for the construction work that is about to take place, and you don't start any part of the work before it is properly assessed and planned.

Who produces the construction phase plan?

On construction projects with more than one contractor, the principal contractor must produce the construction phase plan.

12.—(1) During the pre-construction phase, and before setting up a construction site, the principal contractor must draw up a construction phase plan, or make arrangements for a construction phase plan to be drawn up.

Not every construction project has more than one contractor, especially smaller ones. On projects with only one contractor, you still need a construction phase plan. But it is the sole contractor who has to write the construction phase plan.

15.—(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.

Whether it is the principal contractor, or the single contractor preparing the construction phase plan, it needs to be developed before work starts on site.

principal contractor

Check out all the duties of principal contractors and contractors in our free CDM duty holder guides.

Why have a construction phase plan?

As we have already mentioned, the construction phase plan is a legal requirement under CDM. So one reason to have a construction phase plan is to comply with the law.

But in addition to legal requirements, the construction phase plan can also make your project safer and run smoother.

The key benefit of the plan is to improve safety planning and management for the project. By setting out the health and safety arrangements and requirements for the project, the entire team can work together to reach high safety standards and project safety goals.

In addition to the health and safety benefits, the plan helps you share information, rules and requirements with the rest of the project team. And getting everyone on the same page from the start of the project reduces confusion and delays later on.

One of the duties assigned to clients by the CDM regulations is to ensure that a suitable construction phase plan is in place before activities commence on site.

(5) A client must ensure that— [...]

  1. before the construction phase begins, a construction phase plan is drawn up by the contractor if there is only one contractor, or by the principal contractor; [...]

Therefore if a project starts without a construction phase plan in place, then at least two duty holders have breached the CDM regulations - the principal contractor (or sole contractor) and the client.

Need help creating your construction phase plan? Use the fully editable construction phase plan template for a professional document created by health and safety professionals, adaptable 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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