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Role of the Client

The aim of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 is to improve the overall management and co-ordination of health, safety and welfare throughout all stages of a construction project and therefore to reduce the large number of serious and fatal accidents and cases of ill health which happen every year in the construction industry.

Who will be a Client under CDM 2015?

CDM 2015 defines a Client as anyone for whom a construction project is carried out. This definition includes both ‘Commercial’ Clients and ‘Domestic’ Clients (i.e. Clients for whom a construction project is carried out which is not done in connection with a business).

“In some circumstances, it may not be clear who the client or clients are. Any uncertainty should be resolved as early as possible by considering who:

  • ultimately decides what is to be constructed, where, when and by whom;
  • commissions the design and construction work (the employer in contract terminology);
  • initiates the work;
  • is at the head of the procurement chain; and
  • appoints contractors (including the principal contractor) and designers (including the principal designer).

If there is still doubt about who the client or clients are, all the possible clients should agree that one or more of them is treated as the client for the purposes of CDM 2015. It is in the interests of all those involved to identify and agree who the client or clients are. If not, they may all be considered to have client duties under CDM 2015.” (L153 – HSE Guidance on the CDM Regulations 2015).

The Regulations apply in full to Commercial Clients, but for Domestic Clients, the effect is to pass the Client duties on to other duty holders. This includes the Principal Designer and the Principal Contractor duties falling to the Designer and Contractor in control of the pre-construction and construction phases, where the Domestic Client does not make these appointments.

“The Client has a major influence over the way a project is procured and managed. Regardless of the size of the project, the Client has contractual control, appoints Designers and Contractors, and determines the money, time and other resources available.” (L153 – HSE Guidance on the CDM Regulations 2015).

What must a Client do?

On all projects Clients will need to ensure that the following duties have been fulfilled.

Make suitable arrangements for managing a project

Most Clients, particularly those who only occasionally commission construction work, will not be experts in the construction process. Therefore, they are not required to take an active role in managing the work but they must ensure that they make suitable arrangements for managing the project so that health, safety and welfare are secured.

Assembling the Project Team

The Client is responsible for appointing Designers (including a Principal Designer) and Contractors (including a Principal Contractor) and ensuring the roles, functions and responsibilities of the Project Team are clear.

Maintaining and reviewing the Management Arrangements

The Client must maintain and review their arrangements to ensure they remain relevant throughout the life of the project.

Provide Pre-Construction Information

The Client has the main duty for providing pre-construction information. Pre-construction information is information already in the Client’s possession (such as an existing health and safety file, an asbestos survey, structural drawings, etc) or which is reasonable to obtain. This must be provided as soon as practicable to each Designer (including the Principal Designer) and Contractor (including the Principal Contractor) who is bidding for work on the project or has already been appointed. For projects involving more than one Contractor, the Client should expect the Principal Designer to help bring the pre-construction information together and provide it to the Designers and Contractors involved.

The Construction Phase Plan

The Client must ensure that a Construction Phase Plan for the project is prepared before the construction phase begins. The Plan outlines the health and safety arrangements, site rules and specific measures concerning any work involving the particular risks listed in Schedule 3 of CDM 2015. For single Contractor projects, the Contractor must ensure the plan is prepared. For projects involving more than one contractor, it is the Principal Contractor’s duty.

The Health and Safety File

A Health and Safety File is only required for projects involving more than one contractor. The Client must ensure that the Principal Designer prepares a Health and Safety File for their project. Its purpose is to ensure that, at the end of the project, the Client has the information that anyone carrying out subsequent construction work on the building will require to be able to plan and carry out the work safely and without risks to health.

Responsibility for Notification

Where a construction project must be notified, the Client must submit a notice in writing to the relevant enforcing authority (HSE, Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) or Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR)). This is the F10 Notification and can be done on the HSE website. Clients may, for practical reasons, agree that one of the other duty-holders for the project complete this notification. Where this is the case, the Client should confirm this in writing with the relevant duty holder.

Contact us if you have any further questions relating to the role and responsibilities of the Client, or to find out how you can ensure that you remain compliant and have met all the obligations and requirements of The CDM Regulations 2015.