Principal Designer Roles with respect to Temporary Works


Paul Heming

July 5th, 2017
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The Construction Design and Management Regulations (CDM) are the primary regulations for managing the health, safety and welfare of construction projects.

CDM applies to all building and construction work and includes new build, demolition, refurbishment, extensions, conversions, repair, decoration, work on fixed installations and maintenance.

CDM aims to improve health and safety in the industry by helping you to:

  • sensibly plan the work so the risks involved are managed from start to finish,
  • have the right people for the right job at the right time,
  • cooperate and coordinate your work with others,
  • have the right information about the risks and how they are being managed,
  • communicate this information effectively to those who need to know, and
  • consult and engage with workers about the risks and how they are being managed.

CDM Roles

A Client is an organisation or individual having a construction project carried out. They may be:

  • A Commercial Client having work carried out in connection with a business, whether for profit or not, or
  • A Domestic Client who is having construction work carried out on their home, or the home of a family member, not connected with any business.
  • A Designer is an individual or organisation who prepares or modifies designs for any part of a construction project or who instructs someone else to do it.
  • A Principal Designer must be appointed by the Client of projects which involve more than one contractor.
  • A Contractor is the individual or organisation which manages construction work or directly engages construction workers. The role includes companies who engage their own in-house workforce to undertake construction work.
  • The Client must appoint a Principal Contractor to plan, manage, monitor and co-ordinate health and safety during the construction phase of a project if the project involves more than one contractor.
  • A Worker is an individual working for or under the control of contractors on a construction site.

Principal Designer – Guidance on Temporary Works

The Temporary Works Forum (TWf) has published new guidance on the role of the Principal Designer (PD) with respect to temporary works. In summary:

  • CDM states temporary works designers are covered by the definition of ‘designer’.
  • The Client appointed PD must ensure that all other designers comply with CDM.
  • The PD must also ensure cooperation between designers during both permanent and temporary works.
  • The PD should, at an early stage, discuss and agree with the Client their approach to the delivery of the role.
  • If ownership of the PD role may change during the works, this should include consideration of how communication and control will be established and maintained.
  • The PD role continues into the construction phase when design work is carried out. On a ‘Design and Build’ (D&B) project, it will be common for the D&B Contractor to be appointed as both Principal Designer and Principal Contractor.

The Principal Designer is a designer appointed by the Client in projects involving more than one Contractor. It can be an organisation or an individual with sufficient knowledge, experience, and ability to carry out the role.

The Principal Designer’s main role is to:

  • Plan, manage, monitor and coordinate health and safety in the preconstruction phase of a project. This includes:
    • identifying, eliminating or controlling foreseeable risks, and
    • ensuring designers carry out their duties.
  • Prepare and provide relevant information to other duty holders.
  • Provide relevant information to the Principal Contractor to help them plan, manage, monitor and coordinate health and safety in the construction phase.

Source: TWf  Table 1, L153 (HSE)

TWf believes that many designers may be more familiar with permanent works design issues than temporary works. The guidance provides advice to the PD on their role in respect of both permanent and temporary works, as well as to the wider UK construction industry. The guidance can be found here.

About Paul Heming

Paul was a Quantity Surveyor who gained 10 years experience of managing £200 million worth of flagship UK projects, including 20 Fenchurch Street and Battersea Power Station. In 2015, Paul founded C-Link with the intention of sharing his expertise of managing major projects with the SME market.

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