• 6 October 2015

CDM 2015, are you “competent” to work in construction?

6 October sees the implementation of every aspect of CDM 2015 to construction in the UK, without exception. The underlying emphasis by HSE in its goal to secure health and safety in construction is to ensure everyone at every level, and whatever the task, is “competent”.

Under previous construction regulations there were “stages” for assessing competence and many organisations exist offering some form of membership to achieve compliance, primarily amongst contractors. Although such organisations may yet provide a form of assurance of compliance, in the event of enforcement only a Court can decide if the duties and requirements of CDM 2015 regarding competence have been met. And now all other dutyholders, particularly designers, principal designers and principal contractors, must be competent to comply with CDM 2015.

Paragraph 7 in “Managing health and safety in construction”, the Legal Guidance, L153, published by HSE to accompany the regulations states;

“Anyone responsible for appointing designers (including principal designers) or contractors (including principal contractors) to work on a project must ensure that those appointed have the skills, knowledge and experience to carry out the work in a way that secures health and safety. If those appointed are an organisation, they must also have the appropriate organisational capability. Those making the appointments must establish that those they appoint have these qualities before appointing them. Similarly, any designers or contractors seeking appointment as individuals must ensure they have the necessary skills, knowledge and experience.” Training for health and safety is an important element in acquiring knowledge and can be provided by International Workplace Limited for all Dutyholders under CDM 2015.

Advice on how to go about assessing competence is given also in L153;

“When appointing a designer or a contractor, sensible and proportionate enquiries should be made about their organisational capability to carry out the work. Only enquiries for information that will address the anticipated risks and capability of the supplier should be made – excessive or duplicated paperwork should be avoided because it can distract attention from the practical management of risks. Those making appointments will find the standard health and safety questions in PAS 91:2013 (Publicly Available Specification) Construction related procurement. Prequalification questionnaires3 a useful aid. Using PAS 91 standard questions is one way of helping to assess organisational capability.”

PAS 91 has provided the foundation for all the “membership” schemes presently available and it would seem reasonable, in light of the HSE Guidance, to suggest construction Clients might prefer to establish their own criteria for competence based on using PAS 91 for pre-qualification. L153 will enhance the status of PAS 91 as the preferred route to establish organisational capability and individual competence above membership of “approved

There is a temporary drawback to this as PAS 91 has not been updated to reflect the changes to Dutyholders and Duties under CDM 2015, particularly the removal of the CDM Co-ordinator role and the introduction of the Principal Designer, in practice the “Health and Safety Co-ordinator for Pre-construction”. Although there is no published information on a revision date this is likely to be quite soon.

In the meantime Clients could draw on the competent advice they should have under Regulation 7 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, and adapt PAS 91 to cover each of the new Dutyholders in CDM 2015.

International Workplace has partnered with the BIFM to produce a new Guidance Note on the updated CDM Regulations 2015, which was launched in the summer. To download a copy, click here.  To ensure that you are up to date with these regulations we are running our popular CDM Workshop on 22 October.