Don’t be caught out by the Construction Design Management (CDM) 2015 Regulations

By Ian Pemberton | Published: 13/09/2017

If you are a construction contractor then you will no doubt be familiar with the CDM 2015 regulations and have put in place training for your staff and designated duty holders.   However, there are many facilities management building services contractors who can unwittingly become involved in a CDM project.  Without knowing it they expose themselves to legal duties of care for which they are not prepared.

In this article we will take a brief look at where CDM applies and how building services fall in a grey area which can easily mislead.

Where CDM applies

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) have said the following about what constitutes construction work which falls under CDM:

Where an activity involves construction processes, requires construction skills & uses construction materials, then it is most likely to fall within the term ‘construction work’

 So far so clear.   But one large grey area that can catch out FM contractors is repair and maintenance work.   This is what the HSE say about this aspect:

Maintenance or repair of fixed plant which mainly involves mechanical adjustments, replacing parts or lubrication is unlikely to be construction work’

OK, so that’s also clear – all typical FM maintenance work is not covered by CDM – right?   Well no, it’s not black and white – let’s look at some examples to illustrate.

Let’s say a contractor is called out to undertake a boiler repair involving a mechanic who is called out to perform servicing on a boiler.  They work on the boiler, perhaps replacing some internal parts and make some adjustments.




This is not likely to be a CDM job.  Why? Because it only involves the adjustment and repair of fixed plant.  These type of tasks are not considered to be covered by CDM.

But let’s now assume that the same contractor is asked to install a new heating system – it involves the same boiler but obviously involves more extensive work such as:



  • Drilling into the fabric of the building, and
  • Making other adjustments to the structure

This is likely to be a CDM job.   Why?  Because it involves construction type tasks.  Affecting the fabric of the structure of a building, like this, involves tasks that are clearly identified by the CDM regulations.

Here is a second example - tree cutting.  In the first instance let’s say a contractor is hired to clear a site of a number of trees as part of a new building construction.   In this scenario, such work would be seen as part of the broader construction project and therefore would be covered by CDM.


Now, let’s say the same contractor is hired to undertake some tree cutting work which is not part of any other building or civil engineering work.  Its purely tree work perhaps as part of a routine grounds maintenance contract.

Even though the task looks and feels the same as in this first scenario the job would not fall under the CDM regulations.   It would be considered as maintenance work.

What this second example demonstrates is that if the task is clearly part of a construction project then it will be a CDM job - even if it does not immediately look like a construction job

Make sure you are competent to decide

So, as you can see there are many grey areas where building services contractors can easily become unwittingly involved in a CDM project.   And, where they do they will be exposed to the clear legal duties of care imposed upon them by the CDM 2015 regulations.

As a minimum therefore, all contractors must have someone who is competent to assess which jobs do and do not fall under CDM 2015.  Where they decide that a job is covered by CDM then they will need to ensure that designated duty holders in their organisation are suitably trained.

CDM training online via Human Focus

Human Focus are able to offer CDM training to assist its customers with understanding Construction Design Management (CDM) 2015 Regulations. Courses are RoSPA approved and are available for duty holders as well as CDM awareness training for all employees.

As the courses are online the training is low cost and can be completed easily at your convenience.

For full course details click here