29th January Journal Column

By James Ritchie Architect and RIBA Specialist Practice Consultant

If you are about to alter, extend or demolish a building or structure, or are thinking of putting up a new one, then you probably want it all to go smoothly.

As we all know, a project only goes well if it has been carefully planned, is well managed and monitored to see how it is progressing.

This applies to all aspects of a project not just the finance and programming. Success can be measured by how well project risks are identified, managed or eliminated. Time, cost and quality are becoming ever more important drivers for the success of construction projects, so the identification of risks from finance and planning permission to programming and health and safety are becoming more critical. A client that ignores consideration of such risks does so at their own peril.

The new Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 go quite some way to helping clients deal with health and safety risk management as the commercial client duties are set out much clearer. The aim of the Regulations is to ensure clients give clear project leadership and consider health and safety risks as essential and integral parts of the planning and management of projects -not just ‘something the contractor has to deal with’.

There are great advantages for clients if they and everyone involved in the project, comply with the new CDM Regulations, such as improved planning and management ensuring the project is completed on time, within budget and to the required standards.

Clients should still be able to rely on those they appoint, but it must be recognised that clients hold the power to influence and control those they engage with or appoint on a project and therefore bear the ultimate responsibility for achieving a safe and healthy project. The success of the project is in their hands as much as those they appoint to design and construct the building.

For the management of health and safety risks, the age old adage that ‘perfect planning prevents poor performance’ has never been better suited. Failure to adequately manage these risks will at best, result in delays, extra costs on the project and possibly a Fee For Intervention bill from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and, at worst, leave the client in court facing the new Sentencing Guidelines for health and safety prosecutions.

If you aren’t sure what the financial implications are of the new Sentencing Guidelines, which come into force on 1 February this year, then I strongly advise you to speak to your legal advisers, and pronto at that!

CENE are running a seminar looking at the responsibilities of clients under CDM2015 regulations on 3 February 2016. To register for this event, please contact Leanne McAngus on 0191 500 7880 or leanne@cene.org.uk