Five years on from the CDM regulations changes, greater clarity is needed on how to apply them, writes Issaka Ndekugri.
Many industry accidents could be prevented with better management of design and occupational safety and health risks at the pre-construction phase.
In the UK, these responsibilities are set out in the current Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015). When they were revised five years ago, changes included the replacement of the old CDM coordinator role with a principal designer (PD).
However, these revisions have introduced uncertainties.
The specific attributes of the PD dutyholder, including their skills, knowledge and experience, and how this will support decision-making by relevant project stakeholders, remains unclear.
There also appears to be some reluctance on the part of architects and engineers to take up the PD role.
To improve the industry’s occupational safety and health performance, better understanding is needed about risk management practices during the design and pre-construction stage and how the PD role can be integrated into this processes.
Against this backdrop, the University of Wolverhampton has secured a research grant from the European Union to study pre-construction occupational safety and health risk management. Dubbed Pre-COSH, this project aims to develop a flexible model for effective CDM 2015 compliance.
The project will contribute to both theory and practice of occupational safety and health risk management at the pre-construction phase. It aims to deliver five specific outcomes:
- A taxonomy of the skills, knowledge and experience required for a PD.
- Measures of skills, knowledge and experience for an individual and capability at an organisational level.
- Mechanisms and organisational structures for the effective performance of the PD role through the project supply chain.
- Case studies on occupational safety and health risk manage-ment at the pre-construction phase to support training.
- An advanced pre-construction occupational safety and health risk management simulator.
The grant from the EU gives us the opportunity to develop a practical risk management tool to support collaborative decision-making by the supply chain before work starts on site – eliminating the bad practices that are the root causes of many industry accidents.
Issaka Ndekugri is professor of Construction and Engineering Law at the University of Wolverhampton and one of nine research partners on the Pre-COSH project