Everything You Need To Know About Principal Contractor Duties

The principal contractor has a very important and central role with CDM 2015. The principal contractor has duties in the pre, during and post-construction phases.

It's very important that these duties are met, if they are not it could result in fines or lengthy delays to the project. Not to mention putting site workers at risk.

Remember:  A principal contractor is required to be appointed by the client on any project involving more than one contractor.

They must have the skills, knowledge, experience and, where relevant, organisational capability to carry out the work. 

Principal Contractor Duties in the pre-construction phase

From the beginning of the project, the principal contractor has a role to play in ensuring health and safety and minimising foreseeable risks.

There several things that they will be required to do, such as:

Co-ordinate with the Client & Principal Designer

Early involvement in the project gives you the opportunity to discuss construction methods. It will also help the designers consider health and safety in the design. 

Early on would also be a good time to check that the Client is familiar with CDM 2015. As if they are not, making sure they are is one of the first things you should do.

Make sure you establish what type of client you are working for. As some of the client duties might be transferred to you or the Principal Designer. 

If you are the principal contractor, you also need to double check that a Principal Designer has been appointed. If so, use this opportunity to talk with them early on. You can discuss construction methods and share any information that could impact health and safety.

If the project is notifiable it will also be best to check the Client has completed and submitted an F10 notification form.

 

Review the pre-construction information

Make sure the client and the principal designer have given all the information they have, and that it is all you need. At a basic level you should have information about:

  1. The project, including client expectations and key dates
  2. The planning and management, including resources and time allocated at each state
  3. Cooperation and coordination arrangements, including methods of communication
  4. Health and safety hazards of the site, including how design and construction hazards will be addressed
  5. Any relevant information from an existing health and safety file

Just make sure you have all the information you need to create your construction phase plan.

Create a construction phase plan

If you have all the information you need you should be able to build your construction phase plan. This needs to set out how health and safety will be managed throughout the project.

The following areas need to be covered in the construction phase plan:

  • Project information including description and key dates
  • Key members of the project team and contact information
  • Health and safety aim and expectations
  • Site rules
  • Arrangements for cooperation and coordination of work
  • Arrangements for involving workers
  • Site induction arrangements
  • Provision of welfare facilities
  • Fire and emergency procedures
  • Control of site safety risks
  • Control of site health risks

You need to create this plan before any work starts.

Set the contractors up

As the principal contractor, you need to vet the contractors. Ensure they have the right skills, training, and experience for the project before you appoint any.

Make sure they have all the information they need to ensure a smooth project. It's also important they are told with enough time to plan and action any required work.

It's best to provide contractors with the following information:

  • Details of key dates, including for preparation and lead times
  • Details of the project team including who oversees the site
  • Site rules and induction arrangements
  • Welfare facility arrangements
  • Details of any unusual or significant risks
  • Details of any sequence constraints
  • Emergency procedures
  • Arrangements for reporting - near miss, incidents, unsafe behaviors etc

Principal Contractor Duties in the Construction Phase

Once the project has started the principal contractor plays a key role in ensuring health and safety is maintained and key milestones are met.

Provide welfare facilities

These must be available on site from the commencement of work and remain until the construction work is completed. You must also ensure those provided are of suitable size for the project and work force. 

Ensuring the welfare facilities are also kept clean and hygienic will also be important.

Welfare facilities on site should include:

  • Toilets - lit and ventilated, suitable for men and women
  • Washing facilities - next to the toilets, including hot and cold running water, soap, and a way of drying hands
  • Supply of drinking water and cups
  • Facilities for rest including tables and chairs
  • Changing rooms and lockers where required

Provide site inductions

Anyone that is working on site needs to have a suitable and thorough site induction before they start work.

The induction needs to be a specific as possible, whilst highlighting any risks and any control measures.

The induction should include:

  • Project details
  • Management details and arrangements
  • Management commitment to health and safety
  • First aid arrangements
  • Accident and incident reporting requirements
  • Arrangements for health and safety briefings and toolbox talks
  • Consultation arrangements
  • Workers responsibilities
  • Site specific risks and arrangements

Management of the construction phase

Probably the most important duty a principal contractor has. They must plan, manage and monitor the construction phase.  Coordinating matters relating to health and safety during the construction phase. 

This means being on top of any health and safety risks, and planning on how to reduce or eliminate them. It's important to note that you must adhere to the general principles of prevention during the construction phase.

Also, don't forget about the Principal Designer. They will probably start needed relevant information for the creation of a health and safety file.

As the project continues you need to ensure that only authorised personnel can access the site.

 

Keep contractors and workers engaged

For a project to run smoothly, everyone needs to work together and be aware of any changes or milestones. It's your job to ensure this.

If you have done your induction right this should be easy to do. Just make sure that anything that impacts the project is communicated to all workers it will impact in a timely manner.

Regular on-site meetings and consultations with workers and contractors will also help maintain a solid working relationship.

Just make sure that it is a two-way commutation. Let workers express their views, they may raise some points you are not aware of.

Principal Contractor Duties In the post-construction phase

You may be dusting your hands thinking job done at this point. Almost, you've got a couple of more things to do.

Help create the health and safety file

You have a duty to provide the principal designer any information that could impact health and safety. 

It's important to include anything you feel could impact the building or future works.

Deliver the health and safety file

If the principal designer has finished before the project is completed, it's down to you (principal contractor) to create the health and safety file and deliver it to the client.

The principal designer should have updated the file as much as possible, whilst also highlighting areas of missing information.

Once the file and project are complete, hand it over to the client.

Now you're done!

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