Duty Holder Roles

One of the key parts of CDM legislation is the way it defines how a project is structured.

It instills clear roles and responsibilities for the team who are delivering the project. The nominated persons will be legally responsible for carrying out these duties and will need to be named in the CDM notifications sent to the HSE (if it’s a notifiable project) and listed in your Construction Phase Plan.

Note that all these duty holder roles specifically apply to the construction and dismantling of event projects, not the management of the live phase when the event is open to public or guests.
  • The Client is defined as anyone for whom a construction project is carried out.
  • The Principal Designer is a designer as described below, but who has been appointed to head up the design team with additional responsibilities. They have overall control over the pre-construction phase of the project. The principal designer is appointed by the client and must possess the correct skills, knowledge and experience to carry out this role effectively considering the scale and complexity of the project and the health and safety risks involved.
    • Designers are the people or organisation who prepare or modify a design for a construction project, or who arranges for, or instructs, someone else to do so.
  • The Principal Contractor is the organisation or person that coordinates the work of the construction phase of a project involving more than one contractor. They are appointed by the client and must possess the correct skills, knowledge and experience to carry out this role effectively considering the scale and complexity of the project and the health and safety risks involved.
    • The Contractor(s) is/are anyone that directly employs construction workers or manages construction, including sub-contractors and freelancers.
Please note that in the events and entertainment industry, the above roles might all be covered off by one organisation- for example a production company or event agency, or the CDM client could be the Principal Designer supported by the site management team.

What are the Specific Duties of each Role?

Client Duties

The client has to make suitable arrangements for managing a project, including making sure:

  • Other duty holders (eg. Principal Designer & Principal Contractor) are appointed and notified as appropriate
  • Sufficient time and resources are allocated
  • Relevant ‘Pre-Construction Information’ is prepared and provided to other duty holders – this might include site specific hazards, local authority stipulations or details of underground services
  • The Principal Designer and Principal Contractor carry out their legal duties under CDM
  • Adequate welfare facilities are provided for contractors and staff

Principal Designer Duties

The Principal Designer is responsible for the planning, management, monitoring and coordination of the health and safety in the pre-construction phase of a project.

This includes:

  • Identifying, eliminating or controlling foreseeable risk
  • Ensuring designers carry out their CDM duties
  • Preparing and providing relevant information to other duty holders
  • Liaising with the principal contractor to help in the planning, management, monitoring and coordination of the construction phase
  • Helping and advising the client to compile Pre Construction Information
  • Ensuring cooperation and coordination amongst the planning team

This might be the head creative in an agency responsible for the design of an event, or the production manager of a festival site that designs the site layout. It could also be the client if they have the dominant design input, but this should be clarified in writing at the start of the project.

The most effective way for the Principal Designer to be able to carry out their duties is if a suitable project team is constructed in the early stages of the project and they are brought together for regular meetings.

Designer Duties

Designers need to ensure and show that safety is an integrated part of the design process. When preparing or modifying designs, they need to eliminate, reduce or control foreseeable risks that may arise during construction and the maintenance and use of the building / event site once open.

An example of good practice could be consideration given to hand rails installed on stage decking / staircases and how these can be installed safely, potentially using fall arrest equipment while the edge is exposed.

A bad example could be a structural design requires working at height to install the air conditioning system. A better solution would be to design out the risks of working at height by altering the design to have the air conditioning unit at floor level.

They must also provide information to other members of the project team to help them fulfil their duties and consult with contractors to gain an understanding of construction techniques.

Principal Contractor Duties

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

This includes:

  • Liaising with the client and principal designer
  • Preparing the Construction Phase Plan
  • Organising cooperation between contractors and coordinating their work

And making sure:

  • Suitable site inductions are provided
  • Reasonable steps are taken to prevent unauthorised access
  • Workers are consulted and engaged in securing their health and safety
  • Adequate welfare facilities are provided. It is the client job to ensure these are provided and usually the Principal Contractor’s job to actually provide them.

Contractor Duties

The contractors are responsible for planning, managing and monitoring construction work under their control so it is carried out without risks to health and safety.

For projects involving more than one contractor, coordinate their activities with others in the project team – in particular, comply with directions given to them by the principal designer or principal contractor.

Worker Duties

Workers must:

  • Be consulted about matters which affect their health, safety and welfare
  • Take care of their own health and safety, and of others who might 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

What happens when an event is divided into ‘space only’ plots, each run by independent organisations?

Although most frequently there will only be one CDM client and project group managing an event and therefore only one Principal Designer and one Principal Contractor, there may be times when an event or exhibition is divided up into different areas; each of which commissioned, planned, managed and monitored independently. For example a ‘space only’ plot at an exhibition.

In these instances it is important to clarify who is in control of the construction and dismantle phase for each area, where the perimeter of each site is and create a pack of information for those working in the site as a whole; for example with general site rules, traffic routes and PPE requirements in shared areas. The Principal Contractor for each area must ensure they coordinate and co-operate with neighbouring sites.

This is general information and may not be applicable to your specific situation, if in doubt then contact us or consult with a qualified health & safety advisor.
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