A principal contractor is the contractor with control over the construction phase of a project involving more than one contractor. They are appointed in writing by the client (commercial or domestic) to plan, manage, monitor and coordinate health and safety during this phase.
A principal contractor, in close cooperation with the client and the principal designer, has an important role in influencing how the risks to health and safety are managed during construction work. This includes ensuring standards are understood and followed.
A principal contractor must be appointed in writing by the client where a project involves more than one contractor.
The principal contractor should be appointed by the client as early in the project as possible and before the construction phase begins. This is so that the principal contractor can:
The effort devoted to planning should be proportionate to the complexity of the project and the level of risks involved.
A principal contractor must be able to demonstrate that they have the skills, knowledge, experience (SKE) and, where an organisation, the organisational capability to carry out the work they are being appointed for. The level of SKE should be proportionate to the scale and complexity of the project and the nature of the risks to health and safety.
Examples of demonstrating SKE might include:
Examples of demonstrating organisational capability might involve:
Guidance on what a principal contractor needs to do to carry out their duties on both commercial and domestic projects under CDM 2015 is available on the roles and responsibilities of a principal contractor page.