Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015: Industry Guidance 

The Construction (Design & Management) Regulations (CDM 2015) are the main set of regulations for managing the health, safety and welfare of construction projects.

CDM applies to all building and construction work and includes new build, demolition, refurbishment, extensions, conversions, repair and maintenance.

CITB has produced the industry guidance written by industry volunteers appointed via the Construction Industry Advisory Committee (CONIAC) with small businesses in mind.

Each one sets out in practical terms what actions are required to deliver building and construction projects in a way that prevents injury and ill health.

There are six documents: one for each of the five duty holders under CDM 2015 and an additional one for workers. 

They can be downloaded below, either as a full colour interactive version (also suitable for tablets and mobile devices) or a printer friendly version.


Principal Designers


Principal Contractors



Which industry guide applies to you? 

Decide which guide applies to you and read the document to understand what you need to do.

Organisations or individuals can undertake the role of more than one duty holder, provided they have the skills, knowledge and experience necessary to fulfil those roles in a way that secures health and safety.

Which one are you? 

A client is an organisation or individual having a construction project carried out in connection with a business.

You are a domestic client if you’re having building work carried out which is not connected to running a business, typically on the property where you or a family member lives. 

A designer is someone who as part of a business, prepares or modifies designs for a building, product or system relating to construction work.

A principal designer is appointed by the client of projects with more than one contractor. It can be an organisation or an individual with sufficient knowledge, experience and ability to carry out the role.

A contractor is the individual or organisation doing the actual construction work.

A principal contractor is appointed by the client to plan, manage, monitor and  co-ordinate health and safety during the construction phase of a project when there’s more than one contractor involved.

A worker is an individual working for or under the control of contractors on a construction site.

Summary of role and main duties 


The CDM 2015 defines a client as anyone for whom a construction project is carried out.

The regulations apply to both domestic and commercial clients. This guidance document is for commercial clients.

A client has responsibility to make suitable arrangements for managing a project. 

This includes making sure that:

  • other duty holders are appointed
  • sufficient time and resources are allocated
  • relevant information is prepared and provided to other duty holders
  • the principal designer and principal contractor carry out their duties
  • welfare facilities are provided

The HSE have produced a short summary guide 'Need building work done' (indg411) for clients who are a building owner, user or managing agent and are having maintenance, small-scale building work or otherminor works carried out in connection with a business.

Domestic clients

They are included in these new regulations, but their duties as a client are normally transferred to:

  • the contractor on a single contractor project or
  • the principal contractor on a project involving more than one contractor

The domestic client can choose to have a written agreement with the principal designer to carry out the client duties. 

Domestic clients should read the separate guidance by the HSE called 'Need building work done?'

Principal Designer

The principal designer (PD) must be a designer and have control over the pre-construction phase of the project.

The PD is responsible for planning, managing, monitoring and coordinating health and safety in the pre-construction phase of a project.

This includes:

  • identifying, eliminating or controlling foreseeable risks
  • ensuring designers carry out their duties.
  • Preparing and providing relevant information to other dutyholders.

The PD also liaises with the principal contractor to help in the planning, management and monitoring of the health and safety in the construction phase.

The PD will usually be an organisation or, on smaller projects,they can be an individual with:

  • a technical knowledge of the construction industry, relevant to the project
  • the understanding and skills to manage and co-ordinate the pre-constructionphase, including any design work carried out after construction begins.

The PD should have the organisational capability to carry out therole, as well as the necessary design skills, knowledge and experience.

The Consultants Health and Safety Forum have produced guidance on their interpretation of the competencies required to undertake the role of PD. 


The designer’s role when preparing or modifying designs is to eliminate, reduce or control foreseeable risks that may happen during construction or maintenance and use of a building after it’s been built. 

The designer also provides information to other members of the project team to help them fulfil their duties.

Principal Contractors

The principal contractor’s duty is to: 

  • plan, manage, monitor and coordinate health and safety in the construction phase of a project
  • liaise with the client and principal designer
  • prepare the construction phase plan
  • organise cooperation between contractors and coordinate their work.

They must ensure that:

  • suitable site inductions are provided
  • reasonable steps are taken to prevent unauthorised access
  • workers are consulted and engaged in health and safety matters
  • welfare facilities are provided 


If you are a sole trader, self-employed worker, individual or business carrying out, managing or controlling work in the construction industry then this guidance is for you. 

Anyone who directly engages construction workers or manages construction work is a contractor. 

This includes companies that use their own workforce to do the work on their premises and duties apply to all workers be they employees, self-employed or agency workers.

The contractor’s duty is to:

  • plan, manage and monitor construction work under their control so that it is carried out without risks to health and safety.
  • for projects involving more than one contractor, co-ordinate their activities with others in the project team – in particular, comply with directions given to them by the principal designer or principal contractor.
  • for single contractor projects, prepare a construction phase plan.


As people working for or under the control of contactors on a construction site the workers have duties as well as their employers.  

Workers must:

  • be consulted about matters which affect their health, safety and welfare
  • take care of their own health and safety and others who may be affected by their actions
  • report anything they see which is likely to endanger either their own or others’ health and safety 
  • cooperate with their employer, fellow workers, contractors and other duty holders
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