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Enhancing Implementation of the Principal Designer Role within CDM 2015

principal designer cdm

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recently published their latest research report, 1198 “Implementation of the Principal Designer Role within CDM 2015.”

The report aims to provide insights into the practical implementation of the Principal Designer (PD) role within the construction industry.

Through an extensive two-month review involving 849 respondents, the HSE employed various methodologies such as surveys, stakeholder engagement, analysis of F10 data, and digital marketing campaigns to gather valuable data.

Key Takeaways from the Report:

1. Diverse Profile of Principal Designers

The majority of Principal Designers were found to be small to medium enterprises (SMEs) with fewer than 10 employees. Notably, only half of the PDs specifically focused on design, with others performing roles such as health and safety consultant and quantity surveyor.

2. Timing of Principal Designer Appointments

Around 27% of PDs were appointed after the concept design stage, indicating that important design decisions had already been made. To ensure effective implementation, it is crucial to appoint PDs at the earliest stage possible during the planning phase.

3. Integration of Health and Safety

Almost 75% of PDs acknowledged and prioritised health and safety as an integral consideration in the design process. This underlines the significance of incorporating safety measures from the outset of a project.

4. Collaborative Approach and Communication

Effective collaboration between PDs, Principal Contractors (PCs), and other stakeholders is essential. While 89% of PDs maintained communication with PCs and 88% collated Pre-Construction Information (PCI), less than half of PDs obtained details from Temporary Works Designers. Strengthening communication channels and involving all relevant parties can improve project outcomes.

5. Role Understanding and Project Size

The report highlighted that the PD role was better understood in larger and more mature projects compared to smaller, one-off projects where external PDs were engaged. Increasing collaboration and establishing a clear understanding of the PD role can benefit projects of all scales.

6. Design Capability and Competency

Respondents indicated that a track record of construction design skills, knowledge, and experience was a more reliable indicator of design capability and competency compared to being a member of professional organizations such as the Institute of Civil Engineers, Royal Institute of British Architects, or the Chartered Institute of Building.

7. Risks of Inexperienced PDs

Having inexperienced PDs on projects was reported to encourage a box-ticking mentality and cost reduction, potentially compromising future projects. Additionally, respondents emphasised the importance of using PDs with the requisite skills, knowledge, and experience.

8. Early Appointment and Temporary Works Interaction

Some clients still fail to appoint PDs early enough to influence the design effectively. Moreover, PDs should increase their interaction with Temporary Works Designers to ensure the integration of temporary works throughout the construction phase. Establishing dialogue with the Principal Contractor’s Temporary Works Coordinator can facilitate coordination.

Report Summary

The research report emphasises the critical importance of appointing the right people, at the right time, with the right resources in the implementation of the Principal Designer role. By prioritising collaboration, timely appointments, effective communication, and the integration of health and safety, the construction industry can enhance project outcomes and mitigate risks.

For a comprehensive understanding of the report, you can access the full research report here.

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Do you want better compliance?

Hey, I’m Alex Burbidge. I’m determined to make a business health and safety compliant. My only question is, will it be yours?

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CDM 2015 Dutyholder Checklist

cdm checklist