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Designers beware of the duty of care

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The revised Approved Code of Practice and guidance on the CDM regulations, Managing Health and Safety in Construction , comes into force in two weeks.

The role of each duty holder has been clearly identified within a dedicated section of the booklet, avoiding awkward cross-referencing, and there is a handy summary of CDM duties in the appendix.

Essentially, the regulations are the same, save for the client's duties (regulation 12) relating to a 'structure' rather than a 'property'and a reinterpretation of 'designer' (regulation 13) as 'any person who carries on a trade, business or other understanding in connection with which he prepares a design'. Reference to 'arranging for any person under his control', which used to be in regulation 13, has been shifted to a separate clause (3A) which states that 'any reference to a person preparing a design shall include a reference to his employee or other person at work under his control preparing it for him'.

The code also provides a few scenarios for designers.For example:

'A surveyor identified that floor tiles specified required a solvent-based adhesive.On investigation he found a similar tile that met the specification and could be fixed using a water-based adhesive.This significantly reduced the health risk. ' Or: 'A designer initially considered the use of a water-based paint for the exterior of a metal spire on a tall building to reduce the exposure to solvents.She then determined that the level of exposure to solvents from solvent-based paint would require more frequent repainting with a water-based paint.She concluded that it was better to specify the solventbased paint because of the high risk of working at a height.'

Designers, it seems, are going to have to make a lot more preparatory investigations. Let us hope that the suppliers help out, and that the value of their labours is properly reflected in fee percentages.

For copies of the code, call 01787 881165

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