CDM principal designers avoid HSE enforcement

Regulator enforcement database reveals few notices involve CDM PDs

The HSE online registers of prosecutions and notices contain details of all HSE notices issued and prosecutions concluded for Great Britain. We have searched the registers as follows:

  • Prosecutions – the register of prosecutions which provides details of prosecutions which resulted in a successful conviction within the last five years. Our search looked for cases which involved the CDM 2015 regulations and which included the word ‘designer’ in the case summary.

This search revealed no HSE prosecutions based on these search parameters which we would expect to reveal any prosecution involving principals designers or designers; and

  • Notices – the register of enforcement notices issued by the HSE within the last five years. Our search looked for notices which involved the CDM 2015 regulations and which included the word ‘designer’ in the notice summary.

This search revealed 44 records based on these parameters (03/06/18). Further examination of the records shows that the overwhelming majority concern failure of the CDM 2015 project client to appoint a principal designer. The records do not reveal any formal HSE enforcement in respect of breaches by Principal Designers themselves.

During the same period the same search based on ‘principal contractor’ in the notice summary reveals 654 records (03/06/18).

PDs complying or under-regulated?

The above findings suggest that more than three years after CDM 2015 came into operation there has been minimal HSE formal enforcement in respect of appointed Principal Designers.

There are two possible explanations: (a) HSE are finding that, where appointed, PDs are complying fully with their duties, or (b) HSE interventions on construction projects are failing to include those organisations appointed as CDM 2015 Principal Designers.

The PD function requires action by the PD prior to the construction work commencing i.e. during the pre-construction phase (which may overlap with the construction phase). This implies that the regulator needs to intervene on projects and audit PD compliance well before the construction phase starts.

Finite resources may cause HSE to investigate risk or actual harm occurring during the construction phase in preference to the avoidance or minimisation of potential harm earlier in the project. See below.

Our search of the HSE databases suggests that a better balance may be needed to reassure others that the regulator is effectively overseeing compliance by all CDM 2015 duty-holders.

CDM principal designers avoid HSE enforcement