Are you a contractor?

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

Who is a contractor?

A contractor is an organisation or individual who directly employs or engages construction workers or as part of their business carries out, manages or controls construction work (e.g. building, altering, maintaining or demolishing).  Contractors include sub-contractors, any individual, sole trader or self-employed worker.

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

Contractors and the workers under their control are those most at risk of injury and ill health on a construction site. They have an important role in planning, managing and monitoring the work (in liaison with the principal contractor where there is more than one contractor) to ensure risks are properly controlled.  Because they have first-hand experience in doing the actual work, they are in a good position to influence their own health and safety and that of others.

When do contractor duties start?

Contractor duties apply as soon as they are appointed to the project to carry out construction work.  A contractor should be appointed early enough in the project to allow them sufficient time to plan the work and identify any risks to health and safety.  Details of any planning must be recorded as a construction phase plan.  On a project involving more than one contractor, developing the construction phase plan will be the responsibility of the principal contractor, and they must provide a contractor with information within it that is relevant to their work.  The effort devoted to planning should be proportionate to the complexity of the project and the risks involved.

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

A contractor must be able to demonstrate that they have the skills, knowledge and experience and, where an organisation, the organisational capability to carry out the work safely and without risk to health. 

Similarly, when a contractor employs or appoints an individual to carry out construction work, they must make sure the individual has the skills, knowledge, experience and training to carry out the work in a way that secures health and safety, or is in the process of obtaining them. 

The required level of skills, knowledge and experience (and training where required) should be proportionate to the complexity of the work and the range and nature of the risks involved.

Examples of demonstrating skills, knowledge and experience (and training where required) might include:

  • records of continuing professional development (CPD) including training records
  • membership of professional bodies
  • references from previous construction work

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 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 contractor page.

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