Construction Phase Plan


Dean Suttling

August 5th, 2019
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What is a Construction Phase Plan (CPP)?

If you have worked in the construction industry then you are likely to have heard reference made to the Construction Design Management Regulations or CDM.

The CDM Regulations were first introduced in 1994 following a European Directive (92/57/EEC) concerning the minimum requirements or standards for health and safety on construction sites. There have been two revisions of the CDM Regulations since the original in 1994, first in 2007 and more recently in 2015.

The idea behind these regulations is that it puts an onus onto the relevant party to properly consider the risks involved throughout a projects development, including pre-construction, the build phase, and post build operation and maintenance. In doing so, you safely manage the project and reduce the risk of injury to those involved at all stages. Failure to adhere to these regulations can have serious repercussions and there have been numerous incidents of individual prosecutions, imprisonments, plus hefty fines for those held responsible.

The CDM Regulations apply to every construction project, regardless of size or duration, commercial or residential. CDM 2015 defines “construction work” as meaning the carrying out of any building, civil engineering or engineering construction work including:

“the construction, alteration, conversion, fitting out, commissioning, renovation, repair, upkeep, redecoration or other maintenance (including cleaning which involves the use of water or an abrasive at high pressure, or the use of corrosive or toxic substances), de-commissioning, demolition or dismantling of a structure”

CDM 2015 is divided up into five parts and within those five parts there are thirty-nine regulations.

  • Part 1:         Introduction
  • Part 2:         Client Duties
  • Part 3:         Health and Safety Duties and Roles
  • Part 4:         General Requirements for All Construction Sites
  • Part 5:         General

How the Construction Phase Plan fits into this is in Part 3, where there is Regulation 12 titled “Construction phase plan and health and safety file” that makes the Construction Phase Plan a legal requirement.

Part 3 also provides the names or roles of the duty holders for health and safety. These roles have seen a significant change in the 2015 amendments, the duty holders are:

  • Designers
  • Principal Designers
  • Principal Contractors
  • Contractors
  • Workers

CDM 2015 also provides definitions of the two types of Client recognised. Domestic, for which there is no need to carry out Client duties, such as reviewing a Construction Phase Plan, as these are undertaken by others, generally contractors or designers, and commercial clients who have construction work carried out as part of their business.

The Construction Phase Plan is intended to be an up to date document that adequately considers the health and safety risks to all concerned and how they have been or are intended to be mitigated.

What is Required Within the Construction Phase Plan?

The Construction Phase Plan should be project specific and relevant to the stage the project is currently in, incorporating the current health and safety issues and how they will be managed on site. The Construction Phase Plan should not just bind in all the company’s standard procedures in regards risk management or method statements. Referring to them is acceptable but be mindful that the relevant contractor will provide individual risk assessments for their respective area of work.

True to its name, the Construction Phase Plan must be in place before any construction works commence. Pre-construction information, provided by the client (produced or collated by their designer), is central to producing the plan. For example, if the Client has engaged designers, they will be required to highlight any significant risks they have been unable to mitigate along with the measures they propose in order to control these risks during construction.

Schedule 3 of CDM 2015 also states that specific control measures must be put in place to manage the ten risks specified, which are as follows:

  1. Work which puts workers at risk of burial under earth falls, engulfment in swampland or falling from a height, where the risk is particularly high by the nature of the work, the processes used, or by the site environment/location.
  2. Work which puts workers at risk from chemical or biological substances constituting a particular danger to the health and safety of workers or involving a legal requirement for health monitoring.
  3. Work with ionizing radiation requiring the designation of controlled or supervised areas under regulation 16 of the Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999.
  4. Work near high voltage power lines.
  5. Work exposing workers to the risk of drowning.
  6. Work on wells, underground earthworks and tunnels.
  7. Work carried out by divers having a system of air supply.
  8. Work carried out by workers in caissons with a compressed air atmosphere.
  9. Work involving the use of explosives.
  10. Work involving the assembly or dismantling of heavy prefabricated components.

In terms of document structure, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidance is that the following topics should be considered when producing a Construction Phase Plan:

  • A description of the project including key dates and important project team members
  • The management of the work including the;
    • Health and safety aims
    • Site rules
    • Arrangements to make sure with all team members cooperate and coordinate their work, for example, regular team meetings
    • Arrangements for involving site workers
    • Site induction
    • Welfare facilities
    • Fire and emergency procedures.
  • The control of any of the specific site works from Schedule 3 of CDM 2015 as listed above.

As the project progresses, the Client must ensure the plan is relevant and addresses the current risks. This is normally done by ensuring the principal contractor (or contractor if there is only one) reviews, updates and revises the Construction Phase Plan regularly. Also, the principal contractor must make sure the plan is followed and that other Contractors, where relevant, comply with the plan.

Who Produces the Plan?

The Client is obliged to have a suitable CPP in place prior to activities commencing on site. CDM Regulation 4.5 refers to this point, therefore starting work without a suitable plan in place would be a breach of these CDM regulations.

However, if your project has only one contractor then it is that contractor’s sole duty to produce a Construction Phase Plan, reference CDM Regulation 15.1, whereas on projects with more than one contractor it becomes the duty of the principal contractor to produce the Construction Phase Plan. This is listed in Regulation 12 of CDM 2015 as follows:

“Regulation 12.1 – During the pre-construction phase, and before setting up a construction site, the principal contractor must draw up a construction phase plan, or make arrangements for a construction phase plan to be drawn up”.

What is also important when considering the operation of a Construction Phase Plan is that it should outline the plan for gathering information for the health and safety file, the layout of the file and the format of information contained within it. The health and safety file is required to ensure the health and safety of anyone carrying out future construction, demolition, cleaning or maintenance work on the building or structure.

At the end of the project it is the responsibility of the principal designer to provide the Client with the Health and Safety File. In cases where the principal designer has completed their work, this responsibility passes over to the principal contractor. The Construction Phase Plan may detail what the file should contain, including any residual risks that may affect the future operator and how they should manage them.

Acting as Principal Contractor and Outsourcing

If you were considering delivering works on a management contractor or construction management basis then you would be selecting yourself as the principal contractor. However, you can outsource these services to one of the contractors who is best placed to take up the role, say a general civils contractor or similar who is able to co-ordinate the works and the other contractors whilst ensuring they are working to the CPP. Alternatively, it may be prudent to consider delegating a portion of the principal contractor responsibilities, such as providing welfare facilities but keeping others such as overall monitoring and coordination of the works.

What must always be considered when effectively outsourcing the role is the company or individual concerned. You should ensure they have the relevant skills, knowledge and experience or, where they are an organisation, the organisational capability to carry out all the functions of the role before appointing them.

Following the changes in CDM 2015, and for those who wish to focus on delivering construction only, individuals can be appointed as CDM Advisors or CDMAs. This could be viewed as a quasi CDMC from the previous 2007 version of CDM, but the CDMA role is not a recognised duty holder. However, they can assist in undertaking the health and safety duties imposed on principal contractors.

Intertwining with other Health & Safety Requirements

The Construction Phase Plan will assist in covering the Employer’s general duties under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and under section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 by ensuring, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of their employees at work which includes providing welfare facilities.

This is because the principal contractor has a duty to ensure that ‘suitable’ welfare facilities are in place. However, note that the Employer is still accountable and should check that welfare facilities have been installed and are fit for purpose. A preferable way of doing this is to carry out a site visit or request written confirmation from the principal contractor.

Standard Forms (Templates)

There are standard templates available on websites from the Health and Safety Executive, the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), Network Rail and Safe Contractor to name a few. However, when considering each template, select one that is appropriate for the project as some are only suitable for short-term projects of a simple nature, albeit they would still suffice in meeting the legal requirements.

Also, be aware that the construction phase plan will need to be checked by the Client before the commencement of any works on site. This may be done by a suitably qualified third party on behalf of the Client.

Construction Phase Plan Case Law

Construction projects invariably change as they progress, which means their risk profile also changes. It’s important that the Construction Phase Plan is updated regularly throughout the construction phase. The Construction Phase Plan should very much be viewed as a live document.

In terms of prosecution, Martin Baker Aircraft Company Limited was given a fine of £800,000 in January 2018 due to breaches regarding regulation 13 relating to the principal contractor’s duty to plan, manage and monitor the construction phase, and carry out work without risk to health and safety. This type of event can be linked back into a Construction Phase Plan, which should state what major risks are apparent and what is being done to mitigate them. Failure to record the plans in place to prevent injury to the workforce can lead to prosecution.

To date, the HSE have issued over 2,500 enforcement notices relating to CDM 2015 and over 100 of these are for failure to provide a Construction Phase Plan. This demonstrates how serious the HSE are in terms of acting against businesses that fail to address their legal obligations.


Construction Phase Plans are a legal requirement but there is plenty of assistance available to developing a plan that meets your needs and reflects the projects requirements.

The Construction Phase Plan is there to ensure the health and safety of all aspects of the project are reviewed and the knowledge transferred to all those involved. It is important to keep the Construction Phase Plan up to date and ensure that it reflects the works undertaken.

Despite popular belief, it doesn’t need to be contained within a large lever arch file on a shelf. With modern technology, there is nothing wrong with having a digital copy that can be viewed on your phone, PC or other hand-held devices.

About Dean Suttling

A member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Dean has twenty years of experience in commercial management and quantity surveying, undertaking roles for contractors, clients, and consultants.

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