A construction company has recently been fined £20,000 plus costs after pleading guilty to breaching the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (“CDM Regs”). In this update, we revisit what the CDM Regs are and what happened to cause a breach of the CDM Regs in this particular case.
What are the CDM Regs?
The CDM Regs were first introduced in 1994, and were revisited and amended in 2007, and again in 2015. The aim was simple, to improve health and safety in construction. The CDM Regs seek to achieve this by focussing the attention of the project team on the health and safety aspects of the project, to improve the planning and management of projects, to facilitate the early identification of hazards, and to place responsibilities and efforts where they can most benefit health and safety.
The CDM Regs apply to all types of construction projects, including new build, demolition, refurbishment, extensions, conversions, repair and maintenance. Irrespective of the size of the project, the regulations still apply.
The CDM Regs are complex and detailed, but some of the features of the CDM Regs include:
— The appointment of “Dutyholders” – including personnel such as the Principal Contractor who have specific duties that they must carry out under the CDM Regs, as well as requirements to help other dutyholders through mutual cooperation and coordination.
— An onus on most projects for the client to appoint a Principal Designer and Principal Contractor in writing.
— Giving notice of certain projects to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
— A requirement to have CDM specific documents at different phases of the project, including Pre-Construction Information, a Construction Phase Plan and a Health and Safety file.
— Provisions relating to general requirements for all construction sites
The recent CDM Regs prosecution
In this particular case, concrete footings were being poured at a site and due to the soft ground, vehicles could not get close enough to the work, so a concrete pump with a 52m boom was used. During the pour, the ground beneath one of the pump outriggers collapsed, causing the concrete pipe and boom to strike the employee, dislocating and fracturing his hip, fracturing his spine and tearing ligaments and muscles. He was also later diagnosed with a brain injury.
The HSE’s investigations found failings relating to the planning, management and monitoring of the project. Although some work had been done to stabilise the ground in the area where the pump was set up, no checks had been made as to the load that the ground could sustain, and no consideration had been given to the size or type of spreader plates that would be required to support the vehicle outriggers.
Axio (Special Works) Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching the CDM Regs and were fined £20,000, plus a victim surcharge of £170 and costs of £5,285.70.
This incident is a poignant reminder of the importance of the CDM Regs and its safeguards to avoid disasters. Amidst the current coronavirus crisis, it is paramount that construction businesses still prioritise other key health and safety requirements.
Our highly experienced Construction and Regulatory team can help you ensure you comply with the CDM Regs, when negotiating contracts and/or if you are under investigation by the HSE for CDM Regs-related breaches. Please do get in touch.