Health and Safety for Domestic Projects – Part 2


In part one of this series we talked about the latest health and safety regulations covering domestic refurbishment projects, including new kitchens and bathrooms. The new law was introduced in April 2015 and is known as the Construction Design and Management Regulations 2015, or CDM.

Under CDM 2015 clients and designers of all kinds including occupational therapists and architects have new duties. If you missed Part 1 you can read it by using this link.

This time we are explaining the duties of contractors. Contractors are engaged to work on the construction phase of the project. There is usually more than one contractor working on any domestic project, as it will often include electricians, builders and companies like ours who install kitchens or bathrooms. Each one of these individuals or entities is a contractor.

What does CDM 2015 mean for Contractors?

All contractors have duties under CDM. They should be properly insured, they should inspect and PAT test their equipment regularly to the intervals specified by the Health and Safety Executive and they should be appropriately qualified (in the case of electricians/plumbers) and/or trained (where formal qualifications do not exist). They should also be appropriately experienced. Contractors’ working practices should be assessed to identify areas of risk and to ensure that appropriate control measures are put in place. In the case of our own kitchen installers, we check their insurance and testing records. We also make sure they have appropriate Fire Safety, Asbestos Awareness and Manual Handling training. We have first-aid trained installers, and we specify a range of personal protective equipment that should be carried and worn on site in accordance with the Risk Assessment and Method Statement that each installer agrees to work to. These include a first aid kit and a portable fire extinguisher. We have also assessed and controlled the risks associated with hand-arm-vibration and hazardous substances used on site such as adhesives and solvents.

For every project a single Principal Contractor should be appointed by the client to control the construction phase of any project involving more than one contractor. If only one contractor is involved in a project they automatically assume the responsibilities of Principal Contractor. Principal Contractors have an important role in managing health and safety risks during the construction phase so they must have the skills, knowledge, experience and, where relevant, organisational capacity to carry out this work.

The Principal Contractor must:

  1. Liaise with the principal designer to share any information relevant to the planning, management, monitoring and coordination of the pre-construction
  2. Plan, manage, monitor and coordinate the entire construction
  3. Take account of the health and safety risks to everyone affected by the work; client, workers and the general public, and take appropriate measures to control and reduce risk.
  4. Liaise with client and Principal Designer for the duration of the project to ensure that risks are managed.
  5. Prepare a written Construction Phase Plan (CPP) before work begins, implement, review and revise as work progresses.
  6. Have ongoing arrangements in place for managing health and safety through the construction phase (ie, written health and safety policy, risk assessment and method statement (RAMS)).
  7. Consult with workers about their health, safety and welfare and ensure that suitable welfare facilities are provided and maintained throughout the construction phase.
  8. Check that anyone they appoint has the skills, knowledge, experience and, where relevant, the organisational capability to carry out their work safely and without risk to health.
  9. Control access to the site and provide a site-specific induction.
  10. Maintain a health and safety file during the construction phase, containing all relevant plans, drawings and health and safety documentation, and pass it to the client at the end of the project.

Why comply with CDM 2015?

  • It’s the law.
  • The new regulations will reduce the number of accidents and injuries on domestic sites.
  • The Health and Safety Executive now carries out spot-checks on domestic refurbishment sites.
  • Clients may be prosecuted and charged HSE’s costs if an accident occurs, or the site is not found to be compliant.
  • Clients may need the H&S file to prove that the site has been run according to CDM Regulations.
  • Clients need access to plans and drawings in case of later home alterations, when the next contractor needs to establish where services are located.

Our installers have to take at least two weeks off work per year to fulfill their training and equipment testing obligations, and our office staff continually carry out assessments and inspections to  monitor health and safety to keep us compliant and protect our clients. This is another reason for selecting a quality organisation like Design Matters . We recommend that you only engage suppliers that understand the CDM Regs and are competent to take on the role of Principal Designer and Principal Contractor.

Any questions? Contact us on