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New site safety regulations to be published shortly ahead of April 2015 implementation

Plans to revise UK laws on construction safety are likely to be published by the government at the beginning of April with the intention that they come into force in April 2015, a health and safety law expert has said. 

The Construction (Design and Management) (CDM) Regulations 2007 govern the safety of construction sites, apportioning responsibility for safety to people within the construction process as well as to client organisations.

The UK's Health and Safety Executive has been known for some time to have been planning revisions to the regulations. Health and safety expert Sean Elson of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said that plans would be published shortly.

"Our understanding is that a 12-week consultation will begin at the start of April and that new guidance on what the laws will mean for industry will be published between then and April 2015, when it is hoped that the regulations will come into force," said Elson.

The CDM Regulations are designed to improve safety in the construction industry which, the HSE said, is "a disproportionately dangerous industry".

The revisions to the 2007 version of the regulations will still ensure that burdens are placed not just on construction contractors but on those that hire them, such as the retailers, property developers and infrastructure developers on whose behalf work is carried out.

"Construction is widely defined so even minor works within a building can be regarded as construction and fall within the regulations – that has always been the case and will not change with the revision," said Elson. "With these changes the HSE will stress again the importance of the client role in the effective planning of construction works."

It is believed that the revised regulations will propose doing away with a stand alone CDM co-ordinator and will instead reassign the responsibility for co-ordination within the team planning and delivering a project. The requirement to co-ordinate construction planning will apply across all projects and not just those that are 'notifiable' under the regulations.

"What had originally begun as a process of evaluation and tweaking of the regulations appears to have become a substantial revision that, if adopted, will create challenges and opportunities for 'client' organisations, designers and contractors," said Elson.

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