The role of the Principal Designer as designated by the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015, does more than simply replace the now irrelevant role of CDM coordinator, it situates the Principal Designer at the core of a construction project in a triangle of shared responsibilities and duties with the Client and the Principal Contractor to ensure the Health, Safety and Welfare of all those included in or affected by the Project at hand.
The Principal Designer is appointed by the Client and should be engaged from the planning stage of the Pre-Construction Phase to work in harmony with the Principal Contractor towards eliminating, reducing or controlling general risks and site-specific risks in a manner compliant with the CDM 2015 Regulations and all other regulations that may be appropriate; for instance, in general terms, elements of The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992; and, for instance, in site-specific terms, The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. The open and easy flow of information between the Designers, the Client and the Contractors is a vital element in the construction of an environment where Health, Safety and Welfare can be managed with care.
On information provided to them by the Client, the Principal Designer will prepare and issue Pre-Construction Information to the Principal Contractor, which highlights general and site-specific risks that have been identified as pertinent to the Project. The Principal Contractor will then return to the Principal Designer a Construction Phase Plan that has assessed the identified risks and where appropriate provides Method Statements for the management of those risks. Terminating the Pre-Construction Phase, the Principal Designer will assess the competence of the Construction Phase Plan created by the Principal Contractor and communicate their satisfaction to the Client and the Principal Contractor so that work may commence. In some instances, the Pre-Construction Phase may overlap the Construction Phase, but particular attention must be paid to compliance with the CDM 2015 Regulations and a general sense of prevention for the benefit of Health, Safety and Welfare during that transition. It is the duty of the Principal Designer to monitor from time to time the progress of the Project as it relates to compliance. This is an organic process that must be maintained throughout the duration of the Project and as such must take into account any design changes made to the Construction Phase Plan. Any significant and reportable incidents occurring during the Construction Phase must be intimated to the Principal Designer by the Client or the Principal Contractor, so that any new risks may be managed appropriately, and recorded in the Health and Safety File. Where an incident is deemed ‘reportable’, all steps should be taken to report the incident to the Health and Safety Executive as quickly and in as detailed a manner as possible. The Health and Safety File is a collection of documents that grow as a project progresses; it must be maintained by the Principal Contractor, and from time to time will be monitored by the Principal Designer. At the end of the Project the Health and Safety file will be presented to the Principal Designer who will assess it before presenting it to the Client.
On all projects with more than one contractor, the Client must appoint a Principal Designer to oversee the Pre-Construction Phase. If the Principal Designer stops work on a project at the end of the Pre-Construction Phase they will pass the Health and Safety File on to the Principal Contractor and from then on the Client takes on the responsibilities and duties of Principal Designer.
Clients are advised to discuss their project with a Principal Designer early on in its planning.