Are you a duty holder under CDM 2015? Here’s what you need to do

The UK Construction (Design & Management) regime was introduced to improve health and safety during construction projects. The latest version of the legislation, which took effect in 2015, brought in some changes, and if you’re a duty holder under CDM it’s important to understand your role within a project.

Failing to comply with CDM regulations has serious ramifications including hefty fines, and the potential for litigation and criminal charges in some cases. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is the body responsible for managing occupational health and safety in the UK and has the power to prosecute those who fail in these duties.

So are you a duty holder under CDM 2015, and if so, what are your responsibilities?

Duty holders under CDM


Domestic clients don’t typically take on the role of duty holder, which tends to transfer to other parties such as contractors or designers. Commercial clients, however, have been assigned greater responsibilities under CDM 2015, including notifying projects to the Health and Safety Executive, and ensuring on-site health and safety is being correctly managed.


As a designer, you may be an engineer, surveyor, architect, or other individual/organisation preparing or reworking building project designs, or perhaps coordinating or organising others to do this. Your duties include managing, and eliminating where possible, risks within a project and in a building’s future. 

Principal designer

Principal designers are appointed for projects with more than one contractor. If you’re a principal designer your duties include managing and monitoring health and safety in the pre-construction phase, and making sure designers fulfil their obligations as duty holders under CDM.


A contractor can be a business or individual managing construction work, or employing construction workers to carry out a project. As a contractor you must monitor the work on-site and minimise any risks to health and safety. You also need to co-ordinate your workers with those in other teams if more than one contractor has been appointed.

Principal contractor

A principal contractor may be appointed by a client if more than one contractor is involved in the project. If you’re a principal contractor you’ll need to prepare a plan for different phases of the project, and coordinate the various contractors, whilst also liaising closely with the client and principal designer.


Under CDM 2015, workers need to assess their own health and safety and that of their co-workers, report any issues they believe may compromise health and safety during the construction project, and cooperate with other duty holders.

All duty holders under CDM are expected to liaise with each other, dispensing the necessary information up and down the line so health and safety risks within the project are minimised.

Acorn Safety Services are health and safety consultants offering CDM consultancy services. We’ll ensure your compliance with the regulations as a duty holder under CDM. Please contact one of our experienced consultants to find out more about these regulations and your responsibilities.

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