CDM 2015 – Principal Designer Duties: Resources


This article provides a repository of published discussions on the key issues relating to the Principal Designer role in the CDM 2015 Regulations

In this article, Mike Webster provides a summary of published discussions on key issues relating to the CDM 2015 Principal Designer duties.  It will provide insight into and training on this new role introduced in the CDM 2015 Regulations.

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM) are the primary regulations for managing the health, safety and welfare of all construction projects in Great Britain. CDM 2007 has been replaced, and CDM 2015 came into force on 6 April 2015.

Since CDM 2015 came into force, the Principal Designer duties have generated a lot of discussion and questions as organisations try to work out how to fulfill the role.

A range of organisations has published discussions on key issues relating to the Principal Designer duties. For ease of reference, we have collated these sources and provided links to them in this post.

Principal Designer Resources

HSE has provided answers to the following issues in a series of briefing notes:

  • Are ‘CDM Advisers’ required by CDM 2015?
  • What if a prospective Principal Designer does not possess all the requisite skills, knowledge and experience (SKE) to undertake health and safety coordination?
  • What should a construction client do if a prospective PD appointee intends to buy in health & safety coordination advice?
  • What is the purpose of the principal designer?
  • Who can carry out the role of the principal designer?
  • Does CDM 2015 require the principal designer to be a member of the project design team?
  • Can a client carry out the role of the principal designer?
  • What if a domestic client fails to appoint a principal designer?
  • Is there a requirement to appoint a principal designer (PD) on a design
    and build (D&B) project?
  • What if the D&B contractor is the only contractor involved on the
  • Are there situations where there could be more than one PD appointed
    during a D&B project’s life?
  • If a D&B contractor takes over the PD role from A.N. Other, would they
    be responsible for ensuring the initial PD had met their duties under
  • Can a D&B contractor meet the requirements to be appointed as both
    PD and PC?
  • What if the D&B contractor refuses to take on the PD or PC role?

Thanks go to Philip Poynter for collating these into one document on his web site.

HSE has added a frequently asked questions section to its web site.  This covers the following issues:

  • I was a CDM co-ordinator under CDM 2007. Can I now work as a principal designer (PD)?
  • I was an architect/designer on the planning and Building Regulations stages of a project and I am no longer involved with the project. Who will take on the role of principal designer (PD)?
  • I’m a client, can I take on the Principal Designer (PD) role?

PP Construction safety has published four articles covering:

Kennedys Law LLP has published an article covering the following issues:

  • What risks and issues does the role bring?
  • Are there new strict obligations?
  • What are the standards?
  • How can you minimise or mitigate the risks?
  • CDM Regulations 2015: the impact and risks of the new ‘Principal Designer’ role

DAC Beachcroft LLP has published an article covering the following issues:

  • Transitional Arrangements are ending
  • What you need to do today!
  • Appointment of the Principal Designer

Reed Smith LLP has published an article covering the following issues:

  • What is the client’s duty regarding the principal designer?
  • Who can (and should) be principal designer?
  • Can a PM, QS or boutique CDM co-ordinator firm act as principal designer?
  • Does the principal designer need to be a designer on this project?
  • What if no designer will accept the role?

Kingsley Napley has published an article covering the following issues:

  • Approaches that have been used to date
  • Architect is appointed as PD and the appointment is subsequently novated to the Contractor

Bond Dickinson LLP has published an article covering the following issues:

  • Approaches to date in fulfilling the Principal Designer role

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has published the following briefing notes:

  • Briefing note 1 – Overview of the New Regulations
  • Briefing note 2 – The Principal Designer
  • Briefing note 3 – The Principal Designer Dispelling Myths

BSI has updated PAS 91 to include prequalification questionnaires for Principal Designers.  PAS 91:2013+A1:2017 Construction prequalification questionnaires is available as a free pdf download.  It is intended to help Clients assess Principal Designer’s skills, knowledge, experience and training (SKET) and organisational capability as required by CDM Regulation 8.

The Association for Project Safety (APS) has published its Principal Designer’s Handbook.  The supporting example documents and templates are free to download.

If you know of other discussions published by reliable sources, and you think it would be useful to list them here, drop me a line at

Further information

A brief summary of eight key changes to the CDM 2015 Regulations from CDM 2007 and what those changes mean in practice is provided in this post.

A summary of published answers to frequently asked questions relating to the CDM 2015 Regulations is provided in this post.

Detailed clause-by-clause comparisons of the changes between the CDM 2015 Regulations and CDM 2007 are available on the MPW R&R web site for Clients, Designers and Principal Contractors / Contractors.

An overview of the issues involved in CDM 2015 Designer Duties – Designing for maintenance are discussed in this post and the guidance available to civil and structural engineers on contemporary industry practice is highlighted.

I gave a 25-minute presentation at the Institution of Structural Engineers Small Practitioners Conference on 26 June 2018 on understanding the CDM 2015 Designer Duties as they relate to civil and structural engineers.  The video of my presentation and the accompanying slides are available in this post.

The HSE web site contains a range of information on CDM 2015 including the guidance on the regulations, a short guide for clients and a guide on construction phase plans.

The CITB web site contains industry guidance for each of the duty holders.

About the author:

Dr Mike Webster is a chartered civil and structural engineer with over 30 years’ experience.  He specialises in construction and structural safety, CDM and risk, and founded MPW R&R to provide Consulting, Forensic and Expert Witness services in those areas.

Mike has worked on the design, inspection, appraisal and site supervision of building, bridge and car park structures.  He has developed guidance for assessing the safety of existing structures.  Mike led an independent review of CDM 1994 and the independent evaluation of CDM 2007.  He also led the review of the use of CDM 2007 in the construction of London 2012.

Mike has been instructed as an expert witness by both defence and prosecution teams in cases involving allegations of gross negligence manslaughter, breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act and the CDM Regulations and the appeal of enforcement notices.  These cases have involved the construction, maintenance and demolition of a range of building, bridge and industrial structures.

Mike is the author of around 20 published reports and papers on construction health and safety and the CDM Regulations.  He is also the author of a range of articles on CDM 2015.   He is a member of Structural-Safety and the Institution of Structural Engineers Health and Safety Panel.

For more information email Mike at or give him a call on 07969 957471.



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