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Written by
on 24 June 2014


Role of Principal Designer vs Architects Future

Workplace Risk Assessment SignFrom 2015, over one million small construction projects per year will require the new principal designer role as Health and Safety coordinator, according to the HSE.

So architects; how do you see your new upcoming health and safety duties as a Principal Designer – a walk in the park or a confusing package of extra chores?

If the latter is you, don’t worry.  You’re not alone.

And it can be simpler than you think.

What is the Principal Designer Role?

The very likely introduction of the new role of Principal Designer is one of the key changes in the fast-approaching 2015 Construction Design and Management (CDM) regulations.  And like it or lump it, the designer – or architect – is soon going to have pre-site health & safety coordination responsibilities too.

But what does this actually mean?

Basically, as designer you’ll not only have to think about how to make a beautiful building.  But how to make a beautiful safe building.  And make it safely.

So, how will it be maintained; how will people clean the windows at high levels? Will people be falling off the roof?  How effective are the escape routes, etc.  Plus planning safety during construction, preparing the health and safety files and a few other extra tasks.

Seven New Principal Designer Tasks

  1. For the entire pre-construction / construction phase; planning, managing and monitoring health and safety in design.
  2. Eliminating or at least controlling risks throughout the design work
  3. Making sure all planning information gets to the Principal Contractor
  4. Making sure there is solid co-operation and co-ordination
  5. Making sure all designers carry out their duties
  6. Helping the client prepare the pre-construction info
  7. And putting together the health and safety file

Biggest Impact on Small Projects

Of course the CDM 2015 is aimed at reducing accident rates on construction sites; which are highest on smaller projects.

In 2012, over 70% of the 49 fatalities that year were on small sites (under 15 workers).  And when the new regulations come in a principal designer will be required on every project with more than one contractor – builder/joiner, plumbers, electricians, etc.

So yes, that’s really small projects too.

And clients are of course now concerned their building projects are in safe and qualified hands. Architects who can’t take on these new roles are at risk.

How much will this impact you?

Support is at hand from experts in the know!

Below are ten of the likely new tasks you’ll have to carry out.

The most tedious of these new principal designer tasks are our bread and butter.  We’d be delighted to take all of them off your hands, allowing you to focus on what you do best while keeping the highest possible standards of Health & Safety.  We can;

  1. Ensure the local area HSE Office is notified (Client duty)
  2. Gather the Pre Construction information ready for tender issue.
  3. Carry out a thorough CDM Health and Safety Workshop and Design review.
  4. Identify initial Design Risk Management issues and provide solutions, not options
  5. Assist Client reviewing the Construction Phase Plan (optional, no duty)
  6. Ensure effective communication and coordination between team members
  7. Prepare the O&M Manuals and Health and Safety File
  8. Experts available as and when required to answer any CDM queries.

Ask us about our popular affordable retainer packages, Just get in touch if you’d like to talk.

Key Takeaway’s

There is an emerging new role of “Principal Designer” under the new CDM Regulations. The role will carry Responsibilities for Health and Safety in design and Construction – expert help from CDM experts in the know is only a phone call away

Do you have any questions at all about Principal Designer?

As an Architect; What are your biggest concerns?

Do share; just comment below.

About the author

David Cant is a Director at Veritas Consulting. The SME’s favourite go-to consultant for health and safety know-how. Bucket loads of experience. Fluent in practical advice. Solutionist with a brain you can pick. You can find him across social media on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.