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CDM roles and duties

What you will find on this page

Information about CDM 2015 roles and duties in the context of the entertainment industry, including planning, managing and coordinating construction work as part of an event/production.

What you should know

As illustrated in the graphic below, CDM 2015 defines a number of roles with different duties within construction projects.

The three main CDM roles are CDM client, designer and contractor. For projects involving more than one contractor, the additional roles of principal designer (PD) and principal contractor (PC) are required to plan, manage, monitor and coordinate the work.

These roles and their duties can be integrated into the overall safety management process for an event/production. Organisations and/or individuals may hold more than one role. For example, by being both a designer and a contractor.

CDM 2015 is not about creating unnecessary and unhelpful processes and paperwork. It is about choosing the right team and helping them to work together to ensure health and safety. To this end, CDM role holders may discharge their duties with the assistance of those who work under their control forming a part of their project team.

Getting the right project team in place

Anyone appointing organisations/individuals to work on a project must take reasonable steps to satisfy themselves that those appointed have the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to undertake their roles. An appointed organisation should also have the organisational capability to carry out the work in a way which secures health and safety. Organisational capability means the policies and systems an organisation has in place to set acceptable health and safety standards which comply with the law, and the resources and people to ensure the standards are delivered.

Reasonable steps will depend on the scale, complexity and type of work to be undertaken.  Ask them to:

CDM roles and duties

Who is a CDM client?

A CDM client is anyone for whom a construction project is carried out. This could be an event (show) organiser who commissions the building of a stage or a production company who decides what construction work is required for a TV programme.

There may be more than one client (organisation/individual) involved in construction work for a production/event. In these situations they will all have client duties unless one or more of them elect in writing to be the client/s for the purposes of CDM.

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:

  • initiates the event/production involving construction work;
  • instructs the design and construction work;
  • decides what is to be constructed, when and by whom;
  • appoints construction contractors; and
  • heads up the construction procurement. 

It is also possible for separate construction projects to be undertaken by different clients at the same venue. For example, exhibitions and trade fares with ‘space only’ plots. These ‘space only’ plots are rented to exhibitors who independently procure their own structures.

For further guidance, see ‘Assigning CDM roles and duties to existing common management arrangements’ and FAQs.

What must a CDM client do in relation to managing the construction elements of an event/production?

Many clients are not experts in construction work. As a CDM client, although you are not expected to actively manage or supervise the work yourself, you have a big influence over the way the work is carried out and how much money, time and resource is available. The decisions you make have an impact on the health, safety and welfare of workers and others affected by the work.

Proportionate to the scale, complexity and risks of a project, the main CDM client duties include:

  • Making suitable arrangements to ensure that construction work is carried out safely;
  • Ensuring there is proper cooperation and coordination between those involved in the planning, design and management of construction work;
  • Ensuring that pre-construction information is provided to the right people at the right time to help with designing the structure/s and construction planning;  
  • Ensuring a suitable document (referred to in the regulations as a construction phase plan) has been drawn up before construction work begins onsite;  
  • Ensuring that arrangements  for the provision of suitable welfare are put in place for construction workers, by the Principal Contractor/Contractor;
  • Ensuring that the project is notified to HSE if construction work lasts longer than 30 working days and has more than 20 workers working simultaneously on it or exceeds 500 person days;
  • Coordinating with other independent construction projects onsite.

In the context of event management, a CDM client will discharge these duties with assistance from their production and site management team. See ‘worked examples’ for guidance on how this may be done.

Pre-construction information

Pre-construction information provides the health and safety information needed by designers and contractors (including the PD and PC) to enable them to carry out their duties. 

The assembly and dissemination of this information is the duty of the CDM client (assisted by the PD).

Pre-construction information is defined as information in the client’s possession (or which is reasonably obtainable by or on behalf of the client), which is relevant to the construction work and is of an appropriate level of detail and proportionate to the risks involved.

This would include information about the project, the planning and management of the project, plus health and safety hazards of the site/venue, including design and construction hazards, and how they will be addressed.

For example, a theatrical production design team would need information about the venue within which they were constructing the set, including permissible floor loadings, fly-bar and rigging and any factors about the ‘get in’ which would limit the size of scenic elements. Similarly, the project team on a festival site may need information to help them avoid underground/over ground services.

This information should be gathered and added to as the design process progresses and reflect new information about risks to health or safety and how they should be managed.

For further guidance on pre-construction information see L153: Managing health and safety in construction, appendix 2.

Who is a CDM designer?

The term ‘designer’ has a broad meaning in the entertainment industry, ranging from conceptual to technical designers of structural components. However, CDM designer relates to the function performed, rather than the profession or job title. This means that some people who use the title ‘designer’ may not have duties under CDM 2015.

A CDM designer is an organisation or individual who prepares or modifies designs for construction projects, or arranges for, or instructs others to do this. Designs include drawings, specifications and design calculations.

CDM designers will include temporary structure contractors, structural engineers and others who become actively involved in structural design work.

What does the CDM designer role involve?

Proportionate to the scale, complexity and risks of a project, designers involved in technical design work must:

  • Have the necessary skills, knowledge, and experience relevant to the work they are doing;
  • Ensure that the person/company they are doing the work for are aware of  their CDM 2015 duties;
  • Take account of pre-construction information provided during design work. Provide information to assist others;
  • eliminate foreseeable health and safety risks to anyone affected by the project (if possible);
  • take steps to reduce or control any risks that cannot be eliminated. Health and safety risks need to be considered alongside other factors that influence the design such as cost, fitness for purpose, aesthetics and environmental impact. For example, how a theatre set can be designed to limit the amount of work at height required during construction;
  • Cooperate and coordinate with others.

Further guidance on CDM designers and help with deciding whether your design role gives rise to duties under CDM 2015

Who is a CDM contractor?

A contractor is anyone who, in the course or furtherance of business , carries out, manages or controls construction work.  This means that an individual, a self-employed worker (freelancer) or a business that carries out, manages or controls construction work as part of their business during an event/production, can be a contractor.

This also includes companies that use their own workforce to do construction work on their own premises. The duties on contractors apply whether the workers under their control are volunteers, employees and/or self-employed (freelance).  

What does the CDM contractor role involve?

Proportionate to the scale, complexity and risks of a project, contractors must:

  • Have the skills, knowledge and experience relevant to the work they are doing, and if they are an organisation, the organisational capability to carry out the work safely and without risk to health;
  • Ensure that the organisation/person they are doing the work for is aware of  their CDM duties;
  • Cooperate and coordinate with others. Where more than one contractor is involved, comply with the directions of the organisation/person planning, managing and monitoring the project;
  • Plan, manage and monitor the way they carry out their own construction work;
  • Take account of the general principles of prevention when planning the build and breakdown of a structure;
  • Check that all workers they employ or appoint have the skills, knowledge, training and experience to carry out the work, or are in the process of obtaining them;
  • Provide appropriate supervision, instructions and information to their workers;
  • Not start work until steps have been taken to prevent unauthorised access to areas where construction is taking place;
  • Take reasonably practicable steps to ensure  that suitable welfare is in place for their workers
  • Ensure general requirements for construction sites are fulfilled e.g. stability of structures, good order, safe traffic routes, fire prevention, emergency procedures etc.
  • Managing construction safety
  • Managing construction health risks
  • If they are the only contractor, draw up a document or make arrangements for a document to be drawn up (referred to in the regulations as a construction phase plan) before construction work starts and keep it up to date as work progresses.

Planning, managing and coordinating construction work undertaken as part of an event/production

CDM 2015 refers to two main phases of a project. These are:

When these phases involve more than one contractor, a CDM client must appoint an organisation (or individual) to plan, manage, monitor and coordinate each of these phases of the work. These roles are called the CDM principal designer (PD) and principal contractor (PC). If the client does not appoint anyone, they must fulfil the duties of these roles themselves.

In many event and entertainment workplaces the same organisation may fulfil both of these co-ordinating roles.

Who is a principal designer (PD)?

A PD is the organisation (or individual) in control of the pre-construction phase. They have the duty to plan, manage, monitor and co-ordinate the pre-construction phase of a project involving more than one contractor. For example, the period before the build and breakdown phases of an event/production. In practise, this duty is likely to continue into the construction phase of an event/production when further design and/or modification work is carried out and when gathering information for projects.

In the context of event management, a CDM client may often act as their own PD, assisted by their production and site management team.  See ‘worked examples’ for guidance on how this may be done.

They should have:

  • the technical knowledge of construction in the entertainments industry, which is relevant to the project;
  • The understanding and skills to manage and co-ordinate the pre-construction phase, including any design modification work carried out after construction work begins.

What does the PD role involve?

Proportionate to the scale, complexity and risks of a project, a PD’s main duties include:

  • Helping and advising the client about bringing together preconstruction information.
  • During the pre-construction phase, ensuring coordination and cooperation amongst the project team;
  • Work with any other CDM designers on the project to eliminate foreseeable health and safety risks to anyone affected by the work and, where that is not possible, take steps to reduce or control those risks;
  • Ensuring CDM designers comply with their duties;
  • Liaising with the PC about design matters;
  • Preparing a health and safety file for subsequent projects.

Much of this can be achieved by bringing together designers and others in the project team as early as possible in the project and then on a regular basis. This can be done as part of the normal design process for an event/production.

Who is a principal contactor (PC)?

A PC is the organisation (or individual) in control of the construction phase. They have the duty to plan, manage and monitor the construction phase of a project involving more than one contractor. In particular, they coordinate matters relating to health and safety during the build and break down of structures.

Similar to the PD role, in a production/event setting, a client may often act as their own PC, assisted by their production and site management team. See ‘worked examples’ for guidance on how this may be done.

What does the PC role involve?

Proportionate to the scale, complexity and risks of a project, a PC’s main duties include:

  • Taking reasonably practicable steps to ensure construction work is carried out without risks to health or safety;
  • Taking into account the general principles of prevention when planning the build and breakdown of a structure;
  • Ensuring everyone working onsite receives appropriate health and safety information to help keep them safe (draw up site rules that are appropriate to the site and the activities and provide a suitable site induction);
  • Taking any necessary steps to prevent unauthorised access to areas where construction work is being done;
  • Providing suitable welfare arrangements for those engaged in construction work;
  • Making arrangements for worker engagement and consultation;
  • Ensuring general requirements for construction sites are fulfilled e.g. stability of structures, good order, safe traffic routes, fire prevention, emergency procedures etc.
  • Managing construction safety
  • Managing construction health risks
  • Drawing up a document or make arrangements for a document to be drawn up (referred to in the regulations as a construction phase plan) before construction work starts and keep it up to date as work progresses.

What happens when there are two or more independent construction projects taking place onsite?

Many events/productions are likely to have only one CDM client / client group who give rise to one PD and PC.  However, there may be occasions where two or more construction projects are taking place at the same event, but are commissioned, planned, managed and monitored independently of one another. Examples of this are ‘space only’ plots within an exhibition site. Whatever the circumstances, it is essential that there is clarity over who is in control during the construction work in any part of the site at any given time. 

Where it is not possible for one PC to be in overall control, PC’s for each project involved must:

  • Cooperate with one another;
  • Coordinate their work; and
  • take account of any shared interfaces between the activities of each project (e.g. site perimeters  and  shared traffic routes).

Find out more

Assigning CDM roles and duties to existing common management arrangements in the entertainment industry.

Updated 2016-01-19