Who is the CDM 2015 principal designer? header image

20th August, 2015

Who is the CDM 2015 principal designer?

CDM 2015 (Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015) introduced a new role of Principal Designer, but who is this?

CDM 2015 defines the principal designer as the designer with control over the pre-construction phase of the project.

So, to meet this definition, the Principal Designer must be a designer, and also be appointed, and in control of the pre-construction phase of the project.

This seems to make sense because before you build something, you will usually design and specify what it is you plan to build (or demolish). This will usually be done with the assistance of architects, structural engineers and perhaps a whole range of designers and specifiers for various aspects of the project.

CDM 2015 states that the Principal Designer should be in overall control of this pre-construction phase of the project, to coordinate the overall design, and manage the risk associated.

The Principal Designer must have the right skills and experience to be able to perform the role. They should have...

  • a technical knowledge of the construction industry, relevant to the project
  • an understanding of how health and safety is managed through the design process
  • the skills to be able to oversee health and safety during the pre-construction phase of the project and the ongoing design.

One of the key responsibilities is to oversee design decisions, particularly in regard to health and safety.

Why do we need one role to do this? Can't everyone just take responsibility for the health and safety aspect of their own design?

Well, in a word, no.

While each designer does have a duty under CDM 2015 to manage and minimise health and safety design risks, each designer does not just impact on their own aspect of the project. Design work can overlap.

For example, the architect might come up with the overall layout, and the structural engineer then needs to make sure that the loads can be managed and the building supported for the loads that will be imposed by the new structure. The structural engineer might find a problem during the ground investigation that means part of the layout needs to be redesigned, as part of the ground on the site is not suitable for the proposed structure. This, in turn, will affect everyone's design work.

It is important there is one designer that can take control at this stage of the project, to coordinate and communicate health and safety information, in much the same way as the Principal Contractor does during the construction phase.

So, who is the CDM 2015 Principal Designer?

They are:

  • a designer as defined under CDM 2015
  • appointed on the project
  • in control of the pre-construction phase

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