CDM Regulations 2015: a summary of role and duty changes

12 May 2015

The Construction, Design and Management (CDM) Regulations 2015 has changed the nature of some of the roles at the heart of construction projects. Here are the main role and duty changes you should be aware of:

1. Clients 

Definition: Organisations or individuals for whom a construction project is carried out 


  • Make suitable arrangements for managing a project. This includes making sure: – other duty holders are appointed – sufficient time and resources are allocated 

Making sure:

  • Relevant information is prepared and provided to other duty holders 
  • The principal designer and principal contractor carry out their duties 
  • Welfare facilities are provided

2. Domestic clients 

Definition: People who have construction work carried out on their own home, or the home of a family member that is not done as part of a business, whether or not for profit.


Duties are normally transferred to the contractor, on a single contractor project; or the principal contractor, on a project involving more than one contractor. However, the domestic client can choose to have a written agreement with the principal designer to carry out the client duties. 

3. Designers 

Definition: Who as part of a business, prepare or modify designs for a building, product or system relating to construction work.


  • When preparing or modifying designs, to eliminate, reduce or control foreseeable risks that may arise during construction and the maintenance and use of a building once it is built. 
  • Provide information to other members of the project team to help them fulfil their duties. 

4. Principal designers


Appointed by the client in projects involving more than one contractor. They can be an organisation or an individual with sufficient knowledge, and experience.


  • Plan, manage, monitor and coordinate health and safety in the pre-construction phase of a project. This includes identifying, eliminating or controlling foreseeable risks and ensuring designers carry out their duties. 
  • Prepare and provide relevant information to other duty holders. 
  • Liaise with the principal contractor to help in the planning, management, monitoring and coordination of the construction phase. 

5. Principal contractors 


Contractors appointed by the client to coordinate the construction phase of a project where it involves more than one contractor.


Plan, manage, monitor and coordinate the construction phase of a project, including:

  • Liaising with the client and principal designer
  • Preparing the construction phase plan
  • Organising cooperation between contractors and coordinating their work 
  • Ensuring suitable site inductions are provided
  • Ensuring reasonable steps are taken to prevent unauthorised access
  • Ensuring workers are consulted and engaged in securing their health and safety 
  • Ensuring welfare facilities are provided.

6. Contractors

Definition: Those who do the actual construction work and can be either an individual or a company.


  • Plan, manage and monitor construction work under their control so that it is carried out without risks to health and safety 
  • For projects involving more than one contractor, coordinate their activities with others in the project team – in particular, comply with directions given to them by the principal designer or principal contractor 
  • For single-contractor projects, prepare a construction phase plan. 

7. Workers

Definition: The people who work for or under the control of contractors on a construction site.


They must: 

  • Be consulted about matters which affect their health, safety and welfare 
  • Take care of their own health and safety and others who may be affected by their actions 
  • Report anything they see which is likely to endanger either their own or others 
  • Co-operate with their employer, fellow workers, contractors and other duty holders.
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For further information please contact Andrew Thornton, Partner, Construction on +44 (0)20 7528 4489