CDM: Are we missing the point?

CDM 2007 was acknowledged as a step in the right direction in the campaign to improve the well being of workers on site or in the care of buildings. It did indeed make explicit many of the implied issues of its forerunner. However, it left us with quite a few gaps and many points that can be interpreted in a near infinite range of possibilities to the originators’ will.

While there are improvements, there are equally black holes still, and getting the message across at all levels to every interested party is still difficult. We, of course, have to decide what the message is before that, and to some this is still a difficult challenge in its own right.

There is a huge amount of effort within the health and safety world to make some things much more complex than they need to be or to make it seem as if the future of the world depends on it. Neither is proportionate or true. Some things in health and safety can be immensely important but have to be taken into context.

Accreditation is one of these. This process has grown up as the need to ensure competence has passed from client to independent auditor. For all members of a professional body who are audited as part of their membership this is an imposition. But nonetheless, in order to even be placed on a directory to be considered for tender being passed by one of these companies is necessary.

It is a great irony that while the consultant needs to be fully accredited the company doing the auditing does not have to be. While the Safety Schemes in Procurement (SSIP) has helped here, there is still too much resource being put into this and not in improving the situation at site level.

It seems that often there is a parallel universe going on, in one we have the health and safety specialist who considers that no one moves with out a risk assessment, endless piles of paper and counter signatures to fill the Albert hall. However, in my opinion, all of this contributes nothing to the project or sadly to the improvement of safety.

In another equally bizarre world, we have (for example) the white van man who considers it will never happen to him and that he is made of kryptonite, so no accident will ever affect him. He may not be interested in safety equipment or regulations. And then there is the real world, that thankfully most of us occupy, where we do consider this a serious subject but not to the exclusion of all else.

We look at this in proportion, consider the other points of view and try to bring practicalities, proportionate responses and consensus building into the situation. This thereby increases the case for better and better standards and performance by everyone from client to design team to sub contractor. We hope that people will start getting the point.

Did you see Barbour’s CDM Webinar yet? If not, click here.

Peter Caplehorn

Peter Caplehorn is Technical Director and head of the technical services department supporting the technical quality of all Scott Brownrigg Projects. Leading the Technical Services Division of Scott Brownrigg he is responsible for technical decisions across the group. He is also the director responsible for Health and Safety including workplace compliance and CDM regulations.

Peter sits on several industry wide committees specialising in regulations and health and safety He was involved particularly with the industry guidance on the new CDM 2007 regulations. He gives regular seminars on a wide range of technical and health and safety and technical subjects.

Peter writes for several magazines on a regular basis including a column in Building, RIBAJ and Grand Designs Magazine. He has also given several seminars and regularly attends as an advisor to Grand Designs Live. He has taken part in several programs for the Einstein Channel now part of the RIBA active leaning scheme.

All the contents of the Barbour Blog posts, constitute the opinion of the Author, and the Author alone; they do not represent the views and opinions of the Author’s employers, supervisors, or organisation nor do they represent the view of Barbour EHS, or businesses / institutions associated with Barbour EHS.


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