CDM (Construction Design and Management) Roles and Responsibilities

It is worth reflecting on where you sit in the CDM process as this will determine your statutory duties and the statutory duties of those around you. Take a few minutes out of your day to read the following chart and understand how it all fits together.

Roles and Responsibilities


Commercial clients

Organisations or individuals for whom a construction project is carried out that is done as part of a business. So it could be an existing business extending or redeveloping their facility. It could be a development organisation building a business park or it could be a housing development company.


Make suitable arrangements for managing a project, including making sure:

  • other dutyholders are appointed as appropriate
  • sufficient time and resources are allocated

Make sure:

  • relevant information is prepared and provided to other dutyholders
  • the principal designer and principal contractor carry out their duties
  • welfare facilities are provided

Domestic clients

People who have construction work carried out on their own home (or the home of a family member) that is not done as part of a business


Though in scope of CDM 2015, their client duties are normally transferred to:

  • the contractor for single contractor projects
  • the principal contractor for projects with more than one contractor

However, the domestic client can instead choose to have a written agreement with the principal designer to carry out the client duties.


Organisations or individuals who as part of a business, prepare or modify designs for a building, product or system relating to construction work


When preparing or modifying designs, eliminate, reduce or control foreseeable risks that may arise during:

  • construction
  • the maintenance and use of a building once it is built
  • Provide information to other members of the project team to help them fulfil their duties

Principal Designers

Designers appointed by the client in projects involving more than one contractor. They can be an organisation or an individual with sufficient knowledge, experience and ability to carry out the role.

Responsible for the safety aspects of all projects prior to the site being set



Plan, manage, monitor and coordinate health and safety in the pre-construction phase of a project. This includes:

  • identifying, eliminating or controlling foreseeable risks
  • ensuring designers carry out their duties
  • Prepare and provide relevant information to other dutyholders.
  • Liaise with the principal contractor to help in the planning, management, monitoring and coordination of the construction phase.

Principal Contractors

Contractors appointed by the client to coordinate the construction phase of a project where it involves more than one contractor.



Plan, manage, monitor and coordinate health and safety in the construction phase of a project. This includes:

  • liaising with the client and principal designer
  • preparing the construction phase plan (PDF)
    • Portable Document Format
  • organising cooperation between contractors and coordinating their work

Make 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
  • welfare facilities are provide


Those who carry out the actual construction work, contractors can be an individual or a company


Plan, manage and monitor 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.

For single contractor projects, prepare a construction phase plan


Those working for or under the control of contractors on a construction site.


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 dutyholders

If you have any questions regarding the roles and responsibilities under CDM 2015 or need any advice feel free to contact us.


Martin Blythe


OJ Health and Safety Solutions Limited