Guilty until proven innocent

The CDM 2015 is applicable to all projects where more than one contractor is working on a building site.

Yes, that means even installing a new kitchen, where units are drawn by an architect and a carpenter, electrician and tiler work together will now fall under the CDM 2015.

New terms: Principal designer and Principal contractor have been introduced.

These terms can be misleading, especially when a client will use the titles of lead designer and main contractor due to the usual contract drawn up within the industry. However, the duties of the principal designer and principal contractor are clear.

The main difference to CDM 2007 is the emphasis on getting health and safety sorted out before you appoint a contractor and for the design team to use the principal of prevention, and then eliminate risks throughout their design process.

Also, the client’s own duties have expanded for example, the inclusion that they as client must ensure that a construction phase plan is drawn up.

The big difference now is that CDM 2015 applies to all domestic clients since the domestic client’s duties will be carried out by the principal contractor. The designer in control of the pre-construction phase (usually the lead designer) becomes the principal designer and the contractor in control of the construction phase (usually the main contractor) becomes the principal contractor.

That means that for our example above, the architect who has drawn the plans of the kitchen units becomes the principal designer and the carpenter will become the principal contractor.

So that’s where the big difference is: CDM didn’t apply to small projects for domestic clients, but it does now.

Architects and consultants as well as builders need to be aware of their duties, regardless of how small a project is because those responsibilities are now upon them, whether they know it or not. RISE has drafted a summary of duties and we are happy to share it with you by email at

And if anything goes wrong, remember: under H&S rules, you are guilty until proven innocent!