Are you a designer?

Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015) - What you need to know

Who is a designer?

A designer is an organisation or individual whose work involves preparing or modifying designs for construction projects, or arranging for, or instructing, others to do this. Designers can be architects, consulting engineers and quantity surveyors, or anyone who specifies and alters designs as part of their work. They can also include others if they carry out design work, such as contractors or tradespeople eg an electrician who designs the layout and specification of an electrical installation or even commercial clients where they become actively involved in designing in relation to their project.  

Why is a designer important in ensuring construction is carried out in a way that avoids harm?

A designer has a strong influence, particularly during the very early planning and design stages of a project. Their decisions can affect the health and safety of not only those contractors and workers carrying out the construction work, but those who use, maintain, repair, clean, refurbish and eventually demolish a building.  Decisions such as selecting materials or components of a building can avoid, reduce or control risks involved in constructing a building and maintaining and using it after it is built.

On which projects do designer duties apply?

Designer duties apply on all projects, including:

  • major construction projects
  • minor building works
  • small projects involving refurbishment and repair work
  • domestic projects

When do designer duties start and finish?

Designer duties apply as soon as they are appointed and when designs which may be used for construction work are started. While most design work is carried out during the pre-construction phase of a project, it is not unusual for it to extend into the construction phase. A designer should agree with whoever has appointed them how long their appointment will last for.

What skills, knowledge and experience does a designer need to carry out their duties in a way that ensures health and safety?

A designer must be able to demonstrate they have the health and safety skills, knowledge and experience (SKE), and where they are an organisation, the organisational capability, to carry out the work they are being appointed for. The level of SKE required should be proportionate to the complexity of the project and the range and nature of the risks involved. 

Examples of demonstrating SKE might include:

  • records of continued professional development (CPD)
  • membership of professional institutions or bodies

Examples of demonstrating organisational capability might involve:

  • using pre-qualification assessment services from third party assessors, such as those who are members of Safety Schemes in Procurement Forum (SSIP)
  • self-assessing using the standard health and safety pre-qualification questions in Publicly Available Specification PAS 91

What you need to do

Guidance on what a designer 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 designer page.

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