Principal Designer


The principal designer must plan, manage and monitor the pre-construction phase and coordinate matters relating to health and safety during the pre-construction phase to ensure that, so far as is reasonably practicable, the project is carried out without risks to health or safety.


Under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 the Principal Designer must be a Designer, but not necessarily the lead designer, architect or project Manager as the PD role is focussed upon health and safety, not aesthetics, programme or budget. Those are the functions of the specialist design team members.


The PD duty holder must possess the skills, knowledge, experience and organizational capability related to health and safety in construction which the Regs demand.


Keelagher Okey Klein are pleased to announce that we have signed an agreement appointing KOK as Principal Designer (PD) on the demolition of the Bridge over Oxford Road between the Manchester Business School  and Crawford House, a significant project demanding a high level of cooperation, coordination, skill, knowledge and experience, not to mention PI cover. Our team will also provide support to the Client in compliance with their new duties under CDM2015.


This endorses similar high profile commissions by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Home Office, Manchester City Council, University of Sheffield, Halton BC and numerous NHS Trusts, including the £20million Life Sciences Accelerator / Bio Innovation Centre for Royal Liverpool & Broadgreen NHS Trust and the £28million Chester Theatre and Library Project for Cheshire West & Chester Council. This reflects the confidence that Clients have in our health and safety advice and the value they place in our continued involvement on their projects.

  • The Home Office ”“ Soapworks (CDMA/PD) £2M
  • Bruntwood/University of Manchester ”“ Manchester Business School (PD/CDMA) £47.5M
  • Manchester City Council ”“ Framework Agreement (CDMA/PDA) £13M per annum
  • Stepping Hill Hospital ”“ Measured Term Contract (CDMA/PDA) £1.5M per annum
  • Royal Liverpool & Broadgreen NHS Trust ”“ Life Sciences Accelerator / Bio Innovation Centre £20M
  • The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority -”“ Caithness (PD/CDMA) £16M
  • The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority – CNC Training Facility ”“ Cumbria (PD/CDMA) £35M
  • Cheshire West and Chester Council – Chester Theatre & Library Project (CDMA/PD) £28.6M
  • University of Sheffield – Victoria Street Refurbishment (PD) £70,000
  • Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust ”“ PIU Project (CDMA/PD) £80,000
  • Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust ”“ VIN Project (CDMA/PD) £80,000
  • Halliwell Jones – Alterations and Extension to BMW Showroom, Chester (CDMA/PD) £1.8M
  • Tameside General Hospital ”“ CHU Project (CDMA/PD) £33,500


Whilst the draft CDM 2015 regulations were hailed as being easy to read, in fact they involve a frustrating amount of cross reference to other sections and guidance.


There is an extensive use of the word ”˜must’ throughout the regulations, which means an absolute or strict requirement for a regulation to be complied with regardless of time, cost or effort. No more “reasonable”. This is far more binding than the current iteration. The duties are now more onerous and the liability to prosecution or Fees for Intervention (FFI) increased.


What is clear is that KOK meet the definition of Designers within the terms of the Regulations and also the ability  to continue to provide competent advice under the Management Regulations. KOK possess the skills, knowledge, experience and the appropriate organisational capability  and so we can and will be undertaking the role of Principal Designers, CDM Consultant and / or Health and Safety Advisor to assist Clients, Designers and Contractors in continuing to discharge their duties and to ensure that any Project we are commissioned on remains compliant with the proposed new Regulations, is safe to construct, is safe in use and eventually safe to decommission.


Some of the key changes:


1)      More focus on Client as head of supply chain to set standards throughout project. CDM 2015 makes the Client criminally accountable for the impact which their decisions and approach have on health, safety and welfare on the project. The Client must maintain and review site-specific construction Project Health, Safety and Welfare arrangements to ensure they remain relevant throughout the life of the project. This increased responsibility will be backed by increased fines for H&S breaches by the Client and others, including the option for a custodial sentence for serious breaches. The guidance states that the Client “could draw on the competent advice they are required to have under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999”.


2)      Principal Designer (PD) to be appointed with duties which include ensuring that all designers are fulfilling their duty to design out hazards and reduce risk  during construction, maintenance and end use.


3)      The formal CDM Coordinator role is removed (no more statutory duty to be the Clients best friend), with those responsibilities passed to the Client and Principal Designer on even more onerous terms. A prominent HSE spokesman has recently stated:-


“A lot of you might well say the main designers are up to doing this job. I think some are up to doing it […] I think there’s quite a lot that are not [possessing the (text from the Regs:  skills, knowledge, experience and[..] the appropriate organisational capability) to fulfil the PD duties]. But this is not going to change overnight. It’s going to take many, many years.”


4)      Principal Designer and Principal Contractor must be appointed for all projects upon which there is more than just one contractor (e.g. one trade) appointed, including those for domestic Clients.


5)      A Construction Phase Plan is required for all projects even if there is only one contractor. The Client must ensure that this exists and is fit for purpose prior to any work on site.


6)      Changes to notification thresholds.  Notification to the HSE will not be the trigger for appointing the Principal Designer and Principal Contractor.  Unlike the current CDM2007 Regulations, notification of a project to the HSE will only be necessary where sites employ more than 20 workers at any one time and the construction phase exceeds 30 working days, or involves more than 500 person days. This will result in far more projects attracting the full requirement of the CDM Regulations, but fewer F10s.


7)      Explicit competence requirements are replaced by requirements for skills, knowledge, experience and organisational capability.  For most projects the Principal Designer and Principal Contractor appointments will be for a company rather than an individual.


8)      There are transitional provisions within the new Regulations such that CDM-C appointments made for current Projects extending beyond 6 April 2015 can continue until 6 October 2015. Before the expiry of this period the Client will have the legal duty to appoint a competent and adequately resourced Principal Designer.


On behalf of our current Clients and various Project Team members, KOK are currently interrogating the detail of the changes and preparing briefings and guidance for all Clients, Designers and Contractors. What is clear is that KOK meet the definition of Designers within the terms of the Regulations and can, and will be undertaking the role of Principal Designers (and much more) to assist our Clients in continuing to discharge your duties and to ensure that any Project we are commissioned on remains compliant with the proposed new Regulations, is safe to construct, is safe in use and eventually safe to decommission.


Our team of Independent Health and Safety Advisors will continue to provide services in the manner which we have been doing for many years which already exceeds current requirements and substantially  meets both the new Principal Designer and the new Client requirements. We will also provide advice and support services to assist Principal Designers in fulfilling their duties and continue to provide our contractor support services.


For further or more detailed advice and training or to discuss specific projects, situations or contracts, please contact one of our Health and Safety Advisors on 01925 654158 or via our contacts page.