What are the Implications of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 in Relation to Minor Works?

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 have some major implications for companies involved in minor works, which never really consider themselves to be involved in construction. The regulations require that where you have more than one contractor undertaking work, you are required to appoint a Principal Contractor and a Principal Designer.

However, the definition of ‘construction work’ is very broad and includes things like redecorating and recabling. You can have a situation where a company involved in fairly minor works doesn’t make these appointments and the law actually imposes the obligations of being a Principal Contractor and Designer on the client themselves. This means that the client can get into difficulties without actually realising that they’ve been appointed as the Principal Contractor and Principal Designer.

The implications could be quite significant for a smaller company, for example, involving a contract to carry out some decorating in the atrium of a client’s office. Let’s assume that the contractor has a sub-contracted decorator and a mobile access platform.  Let’s suppose that the contractor is not that well organised and ends up turning over the mobile work platform and injuring, or still worse, killing the sub-contractor. Immediately the question is going to be asked of the client, who is having the decorating carried out, “Who is the Principal Contractor and who is the Principal Designer?” If those appointments haven’t been made, then the client becomes the Principal Contractor and Principal Designer and is responsible for what has happened. They will have automatically committed a number of breaches of the Regulations. So the effect is that the client can be very easily prosecuted for things that they don’t have an enormous amount of control over.

It’s really important for companies to recognise the implications of these Regulations and recognise that their contractors are required to produce a construction phase plan. This is an explanation of how the work is going to be undertaken safely. They are also required to make the statutory appointments.

It’s quite possible for a company to be fined for a breach of the Regulations without anything actually having gone wrong. There could be an inspection by the Health and Safety Executive, because there are poor standards involved. The HSE could look at the situation and say “There is no construction phase plan here, so who is the Principal Contractor? They have committed an offence as the work is being done in a dangerous fashion.” Before anything has actually gone wrong, there could be a prosecution for the fact that the situation is unsafe, in a similar way to a motorist being prosecuted for bald tyres, defective brakes or dangerous driving, without actually having an accident.

If you’re involved in any minor works and need more advice on this topic, please call us on 0118 929 9920 or click here to contact us.

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