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Commercials Clients are you unknowingly defaulting to PD & PC?


Commercials Clients are required to appoint key duty holders outlined in the CDM Regulations 2015 in writing

In the United Kingdom, if you are a Commercial Client, Designer or Contractor, it is essential to adhere to the rules and Regulations set out by the Government and enforced by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Whether you are a sole trader and practising small-scale developments or a company working on larger scale development projects, the regulations do not change.

Taking the Regulations aside and considering the moral & human element to ensuring your construction team is Safe and Healthy is a sensible thing to do, it allows for your projects to be better planned and more efficient.

In the recent HSE statistical figures released for 2016/17, you can see that the construction industry total fines increase from previous years by 58%! Fining both large and small businesses substantial amounts of money for not complying with the Construction (Design and Management) regulations 2015.

For more information, you can follow this link.


Before we review some of the cases where fines have been issued, let’s take a closer look at one of the client’s duties is under the CDM 2015:


Regulation 5 - Appointment of the Principal Designer and the Principal Contractor

  • Where there is more than one contractor, or if it is reasonably foreseeable that more than one contractor will be working on a project at any time, the client must appoint in writing— (a) a designer with control over the pre-construction phase as Principal Designer; and (b) a contractor as Principal Contractor.


  • The appointments must be made as soon as is practicable, and in any event, before the construction phase begins.


  • If the client fails to appoint a principal designer, the client must fulfil the duties of the Principal Designer in regulations 11 and 12.


  • If the client fails to appoint a Principal Contractor, the client must fulfil the duties of the Principal Contractor in Regulations 12 to 14.


Read the full document here. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2015/51/contents/made

A quick look at two separate cases where individuals have been fined heavily for not complying with the above as reported.:


Case 1 

Project client Mr Selliah Sivaneswaran (Commercial Client – Landlord/ Developer)

He was prosecuted and fined £200,000 after the HSE identified severe safety breaches during the demolition of a block of flats in South London. A member of the public raised concerns about the state of the site. The building owner and client failed to adhere to Regulation 5 in the CDM 2015.

In October 2016, the HSE put the work being done at the site in Mitcham on hold because construction workers were being exposed to a multitude of risks including Asbestos, Fire hazards and falling from height. The HSE then revisited the site in January 2017 only to find that work had been resumed regardless of enforcement notices being served prior. The development was still very unsafe. The demolition work was being carried out by hand, and it was reported that workers were climbing on to the unguarded roof and disposing of debris below from a height of 4m.

Not only were there no fire escapes, but welfare facilities were not provided. Mr Sivaneswaran put profit before safety and paid cash in hand to untrained workers, he failed to engage a site manager and considered none of the legally-required site documentation.

The HSE inspector Andrew Verrall-Withers commented after the hearing, “Mr Sivaneswaran was a commercial client as he was carrying out work as part of a business. When he failed to appoint a Principal Contractor, therefore the Principal Contractor duties fell to him. He pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 13 (1) and 4 (1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and was ordered to pay £1,421.20 in costs on top of the fine.

Total cost to the Commercial Client £201,421.20 + Lost earning time spent in court and his legal fees not published.


Case 2

Ziman Trading Ltd

This company was fined £50,000 for lack of planning, management and monitoring. Ziman trading was ‘acting as’ the Principal Contractor at a site in Porth. As written clearly in Regulation 5, if a construction project Commercial Client fails to appoint a Principal Contractor or Principal Designer the client automatically fulfil the duties of both Principal Contractor & Principal Designer. These appointments need to be made in writing, and records kept.

Unfortunately, the HSE found that the company failed to ensure that appropriate measures were in place to control risks on-site, including falls from height, exposure to asbestos and risk from fire. The company failed to cooperate with the investigation and enforcement action taken by the HSE. This resulted in paying out costs of £5,478 on top of the initial fine.

Total cost to the Commercial Client £55,478 + Lost earning time spent in court and his legal fees not published.


In summary, the HSE is clamping down and will not tolerate breaches of the Construction (Design and Management) regulations 2015. These appointments must be made in writing, with no exception.

If you have any concerns about a project you have coming up or a project that is currently live always feel free to get in touch with our team here at Preston & Co Engineering. We strongly believe that Health & Safety is not a stand-alone item throughout the project, it is something that if done correctly can be used as a tool to help make your projects and companies safer, more efficient, and an all around better place to work.

We firmly believe that creating mountains of unnecessary paperwork does not and will not make construction sites safer; it is the teamwork and planning that will do this. Of course, records and documentation can form part of this communication, but relying solely on it is in our opinion very unlikely to make the construction industry a safer place. Teamwork and communication will play the critical role.

A fantastic book worth reading is a “Practical Guide to Using the CDM Regulations 2015: Teamwork, not Paperwork” by Tony Putsman and can be purchased by clicking the link below.