• International Workplace
  • 14 January 2015

The International Workplace response to CDM update

As CDM Coordinator of the Year, we wanted to give our members our views on the situation and provide you with advice for the coming months.

Jay Bishop, International Workplace Health and Safety Consultant, offers her views:

Changes to competency requirements are interesting. Guidance documents state that reliance should not be placed on an industry certification card or similar being presented. Guidance states that the following could also be used to demonstrate competency:

  • Showing a portfolio of work from previous jobs
  • Providing references
  • Showing time-served elsewhere
  • Workplace assessments

In this regard, I think International Workplace’s “Core Competency Assessments” will be of great use to people wishing to prove competency based on experience and existing skill, without the need to formally qualify workers at great expense as a form of workplace assessment.

It will be interesting to see if, and how, the CSCS and other industry certification schemes adapt to this concept.

Currently, a large proportion of the major construction companies and projects require a worker to have an appropriate “industry card” to gain access to their sites. The response from the major construction companies in how they modify their competency requirements for big projects will probably lead the way in regards to removing reliance on competency cards and allowing for skills and experience, and so I really hope to see a positive response from them in this regard.  

A change in widely accepted competency proof throughout the industry could potentially open up the construction market for smaller companies or individuals who have great skills and experience, but have previously been unable to afford the formal qualifications required to gain an industry card, and therefore access to larger projects.

Jay went onto discuss specific requirements of the forthcoming new CDM Regulations:

Since the new regulations place increased requirements on a project if there is more than one contractor involved, I think it will be particularly interesting to see how people define “more than one contractor”.

Regulation 15 defines a contractor as:

  • Anyone who directly employs or engages construction workers (self-employed persons or agency workers) or ‘manages construction’;
  • Any business that carries out, manages or controls construction work as part of their business; or
  • an individual, sole trader or a self-employed worker can be a contractor too.

On this basis, I would interpret this as meaning that there is nearly always going to be “more than one contractor” on a project. The CITB Principal Contractor Guidance clearly states that a contractor, who engages another contractor to provide scaffolding to their project, is a principal contractor. So more often than not, the controlling contractor will in fact be the principal contractor.

On occasion, yes, there may be companies that have employees or workers who can perform all the functions required on a project, but as soon as a single element of the work is carried out or controlled by any other person, it becomes a “more than one contractor” project. This is going to require all persons involved in projects to clearly state whether they will be using any subcontractors to fulfil their contracts.

Personally, I like this change. Too often I have seen projects been carried out by “one contractor” who actually engages various subcontractors to carry out different elements of the work and actually considers the site the responsibility of the subcontractor on site at the time, glossing over and sometimes ignoring their overall responsibilities as the project manager and controller. This will be especially important in the domestic sector.

Contractors in charge of the works will now be required to actively manage, monitor and coordinate their projects (even when a particular phase of works at site is solely down to another subcontractor they or someone else have engaged) and not be able to get away with assuming a subcontractor will suitably manage the site for them during.

Commenting on the news that domestic projects are included in the new CDM Regulations, Jay said:

I think it is great that domestic projects are included in the new CDM Regulations. Not only does this bring us in line with required European legislation that the 2007 Regulations failed to comply with, but the domestic arena is the one in which we more typically see less planning and more risk taking.

Whilst the requirements for health and safety essentially remain the same, the CDM requirement for domestic clients will hopefully lead to such projects being more carefully scrutinised prior to deployment (if only because people don’t want to fall foul of new legislation) which may ultimately lead to improved planning and coordination on domestic projects, which can only lead to safer sites and projects.

Training around the new Regulations is going to be essential for organisations and individuals with duties under these laws.

Our next one-day workshop focusing on CDM takes place on Wednesday 25 February. To find out more, call our training team on +44 (0) 871 777 8881 or book your place online.