Health and Safety for Domestic Projects – Part 1


We exhibited at a national show recently and enjoyed two days of chatting to people about our fantastic kitchen service. We also brought a flyer about health and safety regulations in our industry. There was very little understanding of the health and safety standards that we were speaking about, so here is the first part of two short blog posts on the Construction and Design Management Regulations (CDM) 2015, from our point of view.

The CDM Regulations have been around since 2007. At that time they related only to larger construction sites that met specific criteria. The CDM Regulations imposed duties on clients, architects, designers and contractors of all types, at every stage of the construction process. At that time our domestic work did not come under the CDM Regulations however because we work with larger contractors on private developments we obtained CHAS (Construction Health and Safety) accreditation from 2013 onwards, to ensure that our processes met the most stringent tests in the construction industry. This qualifies us to work with larger contractors and our domestic clients have also benefitted from the safety procedures that were introduced by us at that time.

In April 2015 all domestic refurbishment projects came into the scope of CDM. This has introduced increased duties for clients, designers and contractors. We know there was a ‘grace period’ while the new regulations filtered down through the industry, and now the Health and Safety Executive is making spot-checks on domestic projecst to ensure that they are being run according to CDM.

So what has changed?

Because most accidents occur on smaller sites, the Regulations were extended in April 2015 to include all sites, even domestic refurbishment projects such as replacement bathrooms or kitchens. Clients also have specific additional duties.

A. What does CDM 2015 mean for clients?

Clients are responsible for:

  1. Notifying the HSE of any works that will take more than 30 days and involve more than 20 workers, or where the project exceeds 500 person days of construction work.
  2. Monitoring all aspects of health and safety during the project unless they formally pass this duty to a named individual or entity. This is what should happen in practice, as long as the people or organisations engaged to work on the project have an established CDM framework in place. It is important to ensure that all contractors engaged to work on a project are ready work to the same processes.

Where a client is not able to carry out their duties, they can assign these duties to the Principal Designer by written agreement.

B. What does CDM 2015 mean for designers, architects and occupational therapists?

When a person is appointed by the client to take control of the pre-construction phase of any project, they are a designer. All designers should carry out their work with health and safety in mind. This might include planning ways in which to protect workers from injury when they are working at height, or moving and handling heavy objects, or controlling access to site in the pre-construction phase to ensure adequate safety.  On each project, a Principal Designer should be appointed. They should have a good working knowledge of the health and safety implications of the designs they are producing, since designers have an important role in influencing how risks to health and safety are managed. The Principal Designer is responsible for:

  1. Planning and coordinating health and safety in the pre-construction phase.
  2. Helping and advising the client in bringing together pre-construction information and providing the information contractors need to carry out their duties safely.
  3. Working with any other designers on the project to eliminate foreseeable health and safety risks to anyone affected by the work and, where that is not possible, reducing or controlling risks.
  4. Liaising with the Principal Contractor to keep them informed of risks that need to be controlled.

On a domestic project where the client does not appoint a Principal Designer, the role of Principal Designer will automatically be assumed by the designer in control of the pre-construction phase – this could be any designer working in the project, or the architect. It is important to establish exactly who is taking responsibility for this role.  Make sure this person understands their responsibilities under CDM 2015, and that you discuss CDM responsibilities when you are choosing a designer or architect. Do not assume that someone else is taking on these responsibilities. Ensure that the Principal Designer is named in writing (an email will do), as this information must be transferred to the Construction Phase Plan in the health and safety file which is maintained by the Principal Contractor – see Part 2 for more details.

In part two we’ll talk about the responsibilities of Contractors, appointing a Principal Contractor, and making sure they know how to work to the CDM Regulations. Go straight to part two using this link.

Ready to talk about your kitchen project? Contact our MD Richard Smithies on