Last edited 18 Jul 2022

CDM 2015 principal contractor duties

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (the ‘CDM Regulations’) are intended to ensure that health and safety issues are properly considered during a project’s development so that the risk of harm to those who have to build, use and maintain structures is reduced. They were introduced in 1994 and revised in 2007. A further revision came into force on 6 April 2015.

The 2015 CDM regulations include duties for:

The role of principal contractor is not a new one, but their responsibilities have changed slightly from the 2007 regulations.

Principal contractors are defined in the 2015 CDM Regulations as ‘…contractors appointed by the client to coordinate the construction phase of a project where it involves more than one contractor …They … must possess the skills, knowledge, and experience, and (if an organisation) the organisational capability necessary to carry out their role effectively given the scale and complexity of the project and the nature of the health and safety risks involved.‘

For projects involving more than one contractor, the client must appoint a principal contractor as soon as practicable, and before the start of the construction phase, so they have enough time to plan and manage the construction phase.

If the client fails to appoint a principal contractor, the client must fulfil the duties of the principal contractor. However, if a domestic client fails to make an appointment, the contractor in control of the construction phase of the project is the principal contractor. A domestic client is someone who has construction work done on their own home, or the home of a family member, which is not done in connection with a business.

The role of principal contractor involves:

Where a client is a domestic client, the principal contractor must also carry out the duties of the client under the regulations, unless there is only one contractor (in which case the contractor must carry out their duties), or there is a written agreement that the principal designer will fulfil those duties. See Client duties under CDM 2015 for more information.

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