CDM 2015: Everything You Need to Know About Roles & Duties

Health and safety is the most important thing when it comes to construction projects. Period. The Construction (Design and Management) or CDM regulations were introduced to guarantee that these issues are at the forefront of everyone’s mind as projects progress.

The main aim of these regulations is to ensure that the risk of harm to those who are involved throughout the project, being it building or maintaining, is the lowest it possibly can be. CDM regulations were first introduced in 1994 and were revised in 2007 and again most recently in 2015.

The introduction of CDM 2015 rolled out some changes to the 5 key duty holders and their CDM roles and responsibilities. CDM 2015 requires all duty holders to work seamlessly and safely together so it’s vital that each understand their roles and responsibilities. 

In this blog we will detail who these duty holders are and what their main duties are.

Summary of CDM Duty Holders and Main Duties


CDM Duty holders:

Who are they?

Summary of role/main duties

Clients are organisations or individuals for whom a construction project is carried out.

Make suitable arrangements for managing a project. This includes making sure: other dutyholders are appointed;

sufficient time and resources are allocated.


Make sure: relevant information is prepared and provided to other dutyholders;

the principal designer and principal contractor carry out their duties;

welfare facilities are provided.


Domestic clients are 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 for profit or not.

Domestic clients are in scope of CDM 2015, but their duties as a client 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.


Designers are those, 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.


Principal designers** are designers appointed by the client in projects involving more than one contractor. They can be an organisation or an individual with sufficient knowledge, experience and ability to carry out the role.

Plan, manage, monitor and coordinate health and safety in the pre-construction phase of a project. This includes: identifying, eliminating or controlling foreseeable risks;

ensuring designers carry out their duties.


Prepare and provide relevant information to other dutyholders.

Provide relevant information to the principal contractor to help them plan, manage, monitor and coordinate health and safety in the construction phase.



Role of The Client in CDM 2015

Clients are required to have CDM duties as they are in overall control of the project, they control payments and appointments of key personnel and can set deadlines and project milestones.

The main duty of the client is to make sue that all required duty holders are appointed, all relevant information is prepared and duly provided to other duty holders. Clients must also make sure that welfare facilities are provided for those working on the workers on site.

The Client must also ensure that the Principal Designer and Contractor carry out their duties efficiently under CDM 2015.

Example of Client CDM Fails

failure to provide pre-construction information and not appoint duty holders with relevant skills knowledge and experience..

CDM Fail.

Role of The Principal Designer in CDM 2015

For everything up to work starting on the site Principal Designers play a vital role. They need to ensure effective planning, management and co-ordination of health and safety in the pre-construction phase. It is their role to ensure once work starts that all involved in the project have the lowest chance of injury by identifying, eliminating or controlling foreseeable risks.

Their role also involves preparing and providing relevant information to other duty holders throughout the project. Principal Designers must also ensure that Designers carry out their duties and keep in contact with the Principal Contractor to help in the planning, management and monitoring of the construction phase.

Examples of Principal Designer Fails

Failure to produce design risk register, failure to produce health and safety file

CDM Fail.

The Role Of Designers In CDM 2015

All Designers must eliminate, reduce or control foreseeable risks that may arise during construction or maintenance when preparing or modifying designs, they must also provide relevant information to other members of the project team.

The Role Of Principal Contractor In CDM 2015

Principal Contractors are responsible for planning, managing, monitoring and coordinating the construction phase of the project, including preparing the construction phase plan, organising cooperation between Contractors and coordinating their work and liaising with the Client and Principal Designer.

They must ensure that suitable site inductions are provided, prevent unauthorised access, provide welfare facilities and consult and engage workers on health and safety matters.

Example of Principal Contractor Fails

Failure to produce a construction phase plan and implement part 4 of cdm 

CDM Fail.

The Role Of Contractors In CDM 2015

Any work that is under the control of each contractor must be planned, managed and monitored to ensure it is carried out without risks to health and safety. This involves adhering to any instructions given to them by the Principal Designer or Principal Contractor. Contractors must also ensure efficient communication and co-ordination with others in the project team.

Example of Contractor Fails

failure to follow PC rules and produce CPP when only one contractor

CDM Fail.

The Role Of Workers In CDM 2015

Even with efficient planning and risk management without the proper co-operation from workers every project will struggle. It is important to ensure that workers are kept in the loop with everything and kept engaged as best as possible with all things health and safety.

Workers obviously need to manage their own health and safety and those who may be affected by their actions. It will also be important to create an environment where they feel comfortable reported anything they see which could impact the project and the health and safety of others.

If you require further clarification or any support with CDM 2015 feel free to get in touch with us and we will do our best to help.

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