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CDM Regulations & their impact on duty holders – Part 3: Principal Contractor

12 Feb 2019

The third and final primary duty holder under the CDM is the principal contractor. The principal contractor is appointed by the client to control the construction phase of a project that involves more than one contractor.

As with the appointment of a principal designer, the appointee must possess the requisite skills, knowledge and experience required to carry out their role in relation to the size and complexity of the project.

A principal contractor should be appointed prior to the start of the construction phase and ideally should be appointed as early as possible so they that can have early involvement in the planning of the construction phase of the project.

As the CDM is worded so that health and safety issues are taken into consideration during a project’s development, the principal contractor has less onerous responsibilities than those of the client and the principal designer. That being said they are responsible for controlling the project during the construction phase and should be doing the following:

  • Prior to the construction phase commencing, prepare the construction phase plan which the principal contractor is then responsible for implementing and revising the plan as necessary during the life of the project;
  • Work with the principal designer and inform them of anything relevant to the principal designer in the planning of the pre-construction phase;
  • Take into account the health and safety risks posed to everyone affected by the project and plan and manage measures to control them;
  • Work with the client and principle designer during the life of the project to ensure that all risks are effectively managed;
  • Manage health and safety during the construction phase;
  • Ensure that those they appoint to work on the project have suitable skills, knowledge and experience to carry out any work without causing risk to health and safety of themselves or others;
  • Ensure those working on the project have proper inductions to the site and its rules;
  • Take steps to secure the site so that there is no access by anyone not authorised to be there;
  • Take responsibility for ensuring that anything in the principal contractor’s possession that is relevant to the health and safety file is passed to the principal designer;
Rebecca Weir

In the event a principal designer’s appointment finishes before the end of a project, a principal contractor will become responsible for the health and safety file for the rest of the project. The principal contractor will therefore adopt the principal designer’s responsibility for reviewing, updating and advising the file and then passing it to the client at the culmination of the project.

As with the principal designer, where a client does not correctly appoint a principal contractor or a principal contractor does not acknowledge their appointment, the client runs the risk of adopting the obligations placed on the principal contractor.

As well placing obligation on the three primary duty holders, it is worth remembering that the CDM applies to all involved with a construction project and everyone must take steps to undertake their work in ways that eliminate, reduce or control foreseeable risks that could arise both during construction and ultimately during the life of the building thereafter.

If you require assistance with appointment documents for contractors or for more information on your obligations under the CDM please contact Rebecca Weir, or call 0191 232 8345.