RR1198: Implementation of the Principal Designer Role within CDM 2015

The Principal Designer (PD) is a key role in the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015). They must plan, manage, monitor and coordinate health and safety in the pre-construction (design) phase of a project. Decisions taken at this point can significantly influence whether a project is delivered in a way that secures health and safety.

Independent research was commissioned to broaden HSE’s understanding of how the role is working in practice. Information provided by survey respondents and stakeholder organisations was used to gain greater insight about those undertaking the PD role, their activities and influence on health and safety. The research also considered the extent to which PD’s are meeting their CDM 2015 responsibilities and the underlying reasons for this.

Findings indicate that PDs are typically small or medium sized enterprises (SMEs). They undertake differing amounts of twenty indicative activities on a project with the mean being thirteen. Compliance with the functions set out in the CDM regulations is variable. A range of behaviours impact on this. Survey respondents considered the value the PD role could potentially bring to future projects as either high (51%) or moderate-high (21%). Contributors also identified areas where further focus may be required to build on the current approach to implementing the PD role.

HSE guidance L153 ‘Managing Health and Safety in Construction’ sets out the requirements expected of those fulfilling the PD role under CDM 2015.

This report and the work it describes were funded by the Health and Safety Executive. Its contents, including any opinions and/or conclusions expressed, are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect HSE policy.

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Updated 2023-12-12