Skip to main content

Construction Design and Management Regulations 2015

A designer is defined under Construction Design and Management (CDM) legislation as an organisation or individual whose work involves preparing or modifying designs for construction projects, or arranging for, or instructing others to do this.

CDM Health & Safety

Designers under CDM are currently defined as architects, consulting engineers and quantity surveyors, or anyone who specifies and alters designs as part of their work. They can also include others if they carry out design work, such as contractors or tradespeople e.g. an electrician who designs the layout and specification of an electrical installation or even commercial clients where they become actively involved in designing in relation to their project. The term design is so generic it has caused a barrier to the registration of title.

Why is a designer important in ensuring construction is carried out in a way that avoids harm?

A designer has a strong influence, particularly during the very early planning and design stages of a project. Their decisions can affect the health and safety of not only those contractors and workers carrying out the construction work, but those who use, maintain, repair, clean, refurbish and eventually demolish a building. Decisions such as selecting materials or components of a building can avoid, reduce or control risks involved in constructing, maintaining and using it after it is built.

On which projects do designer duties apply?

Designer duties apply on all projects, including:

  • major construction projects
  • minor building works
  • small projects involving refurbishment and repair work
  • domestic projects

When do designer duties start and finish?

Designer duties apply as soon as they are appointed and when designs which may be used for construction work are started. While most design work is carried out during the pre-construction phase of a project, it is not unusual for it to extend into the construction phase. A designer should agree their scope with whoever has appointed them. SBID recommend that a provision on a daily rate is included in the Letter of Appointment to cover the requirement through procurement of design under CDM regulations. This may sometimes be described as Project Management of the design.

What skills, knowledge and experience does a designer need to carry out their duties and comply with health and safety legislation?

A designer must be able to demonstrate they have the health and safety skills, knowledge and experience (SKE), and where they are an organisation, the organisational capability, to carry out the work they are being appointed for. The level of SKE required should be proportionate to the complexity of the project and the range and nature of the risks involved.

Examples of demonstrating SKE might include:

  • Records of continued professional development (CPD) SBID Accredited Members are contractually obliged to complete 24 hours of CPD p.a. to retain accreditation.


Examples of demonstrating organisational capability might involve:

  • using pre-qualification assessment services from third party assessors, such as those who are members of Safety Schemes in Procurement Forum.
  • self-assessing using the standard health and safety pre-qualification questions in Publicly Available Specification

What are an Interior Designers obligations under CDM 2015

Designers must make sure the client is aware of the client duties under CDM 2015 before starting any design work.

Designers must make sure the client is aware:

  • take steps to reduce or control any risks that cannot be eliminated
  • when preparing or modifying designs:
  • take account of any pre-construction information provided by the client (and principal designer, if one is involved)
  • eliminate foreseeable health and safety risks to anyone affected by the project (if possible)


Provide design information to:

  • the principal designer (if involved), for inclusion in the pre-construction information and the health and safety file
  • the client and principal contractor (or the contractor) to help them comply with their duties.
  • communicate, cooperate and coordinate with:
  • any other designers (including the principal designer) so that all designs are compatible and ensure health and safety, both during the project and beyond
  • all contractors (including the principal contractor), to take account of their knowledge and experience of building designs.

What’s the difference between residential (domestic) and commercial (contract) clients?

Working as a designer for a domestic client is no different to working for a commercial client in the initial basics, client care, dealing with client funds, and H&S legislation. However, the domestic client’s legal duties are normally taken on by the contractor (or the principal contractor on projects involving more than one contractor) and the designer must work to them as ‘client’ under CDM 2015.

Alternatively, the domestic client can ask the principal designer to take on the client duties, although this must be confirmed in a written agreement. SBID recommends to its members and their clients that this instruction is formally appointed by both parties with an independent solicitor due to the legal implications and ongoing liabilities the appointment carries. Where the project involves more than one contractor and the domestic client does not appoint a principal designer, the role of the principal designer must be carried out by the designer in control of the pre-construction phase.

As an employee, what legal duties are placed on me in respect of Health & Safety?

You have a common-law duty of care as an employee under your contract of employment. This means that you must exercise reasonable skill and care in your relationship with your employer and your colleagues.

In addition, the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HASAWA) requires you to take reasonable care for the health and safety of yourself and other people at work. This extends to co-operating to enable the employer to fulfil its legal duty.

You must not interfere with or obstruct anything provided in the interests of health and safety at work.

An employee who is in breach of his or her duties (legal and general) under HASAWA may be liable to pay a fine on conviction. You may also be dismissed from employment for being in breach of a contractual duty to carry out work with proper care and skill – provided you were properly instructed about relevant safety measures and had been made aware that the interference could lead to dismissal.

Note: The content provided is general background information only, it should not be taken as legal or financial advice for any specific situation. SBID recommend you seek specific advice on your case from a solicitor. For further information please visit the HS Executive site:

Explore SBID

Design Fee

Design Fees

An interior designer can charge design fees using several methods. We recommend ‘best practice’ options which SBID encourage ALL interior designers to adopt.
Read More

Interior Design Skills

Skills & Remit of an Interior Designer

The required skillset of a professional interior designer is separate from that interior decorator or a hobbyist.

Read More

Specialisms of Interior Design

Interior Design Specialisms

Interior design covers multiple specialisms, each with their own forms of regulations and requirements. SBID have identified twelve key category disciplines. © 
Read More



Find out more about our flexible membership structure.

Apply Online