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Principal Designers

Under the regulations the Principal Designer is responsible for:

  • Identifying, eliminating or controlling foreseeable risks;
  • Preparing the health and safety file;
  • Ensuring designers carry out their duties;
  • Liaising with the principal contractor to help in the planning, management and monitoring of the construction phase; and
  • Preparing and providing relevant information to other dutyholders

Architects acting as the Principal Designer should be aware:

  • When appointing any designers, the Principal Designer should take reasonable steps to check that these designers have sufficient knowledge, experience and capability to take on the work, before any appointment is made. Reasonable steps depend on the complexity of the project and nature of the risks involved.
  • Principal Designers should ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, that foreseeable risks to health and safety are identified and either eliminated, reduced or controlled to an acceptable level. This relies on exercising professional judgment in considering how the risks can be managed.
  • Principal Designers should ensure that effective communication is occurring between everyone working on the pre-construction phase and that designers comply with their duties.

Transitional provisions

Schedule 4 provides transitional arrangements for projects which span 6 April 2015.

For projects involving more than one contractor which commenced before 6 April 2015, where the client has not appointed a CDM co-ordinator, the client must appoint a Principal Designer as soon as practicable if the construction phase has not yet started.

If the construction phase has started, there is no requirement to appoint a Principal Designer, but they may do so if they wish. If they do not, the principal contractor takes responsibility for the health and safety file.

For projects where the client has appointed a CDM co-ordinator by 6 April 2015, they must appoint a Principal Designer within 6 months i.e. by 6 October 2015.