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HSE indicates changes to CDM will be more significant than expected

The HSE is planning a “complete overhaul” of the Construction Design Management (CDM) Regulations ““ including removal of provisions relating to competence, and introducing duties for domestic projects ““ rather than the fine-tuning indicated by its review last year.

This is according to the Association for Project Safety (APS), which called the changes ““ revealed by the HSE in a presentation to the North West CDM Support Group on 25 February ““ “unnecessary and drastic”.

The meeting was attended by APS president Richard Habgood, who noted from the presentation that the HSE intends to make the following changes: removal of both regulation 4, relating to competence, and the Approved Code of Practice (ACoP); introduction of CDM duties for all projects on which more than one contractor is working; replacement of the design-phase duties of the current CDM coordinator with a new “˜project preparation manager’.

Designer, principal contractor and contractor duties appear to be remaining more or less unchanged, says the APS, adding that the project notification threshold will remain the same as under CDM 2007, even though this differs from the European Union’s Temporary & Mobile Construction Sites (TMCS) Directive.

One of the most contentious changes is likely to be the introduction of CDM duties for all projects, commercial or domestic, where more than one contractor is working on a project. According to the APS, on these projects, one of the contractors will have to take on the equivalent duties of the CDM coordinator for the construction phase.

At the presentation, the HSE said it would be concentrating on improving the construction industry’s understanding of the TMCS Directive, reducing pre-qualification bureaucracy and replacing the ACoP with a series of guidance notes.

Although the exact detail of the new regulatory package will not be known until May 2013 at the earliest, when it is presented to the HSE Board, the APS suggests that the Government’s policy on revising the Regulations “demands a complete overhaul based on a copy-out of the Directive, irrespective of the quality of the existing CDM Regulations”.

It adds: “These proposed changes fly in the face of the HSE’s own CDM review and the Government’s acceptance of the recommendations in Professor Ragnar Löfstedt’s report, both of which suggested the CDM 2007 Regulations were working well, were not broken, and only required minor changes in the way they were understood and being implemented.

“While there is still quite a way to go with finalising the revised Regulations, an industry consultation period still to be had, and a likely implementation date not until October 2014, the wheels could yet come off the trolley with the Government’s approach to Europe uncertain and the TMCS Directive itself due for review by the EU next year.”

When contacted by SHP for a response, the HSE’s chief inspector of construction, Philip White, said: “It is a matter of public record that the HSE has been asked to revise the regulatory package that comprises the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007, the accompanying Approved Code of Practice, and supporting guidance. To that end, we’ have been’ talking to a wide variety of stakeholders in various forums prior to the public consultation planned for’ later this year.

“The HSE is committed to maintaining, or improving standards of worker protection, and we have been at great pains to tell stakeholders that this principle underpins the work we are doing to revise the package. At the same time, we have to set our proposals in the context of broader reforms to the health and safety system as a whole, and the factors that are shaping these reforms.

“We plan to put our proposals to the HSE Board in the spring.’ In the meantime, we will continue to tell stakeholders what is planned and listen to their comments, and will keep them’ informed of developments.”

The APS concluded: “While a desire for a reduction in bureaucracy and a drive for simplicity should be applauded, it should greatly concern the Government and the general public that these unnecessary, drastic changes could seriously undermine and set back the excellent progress made in health and safety risk management by the construction industry.”

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