The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 [CDM]

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM) apply to all construction projects, including those undertaken in the entertainment industry. A project includes all the planning, design, and Event Risk Assessment tasks associated with construction work. For example, the building, fitting out, and taking down of temporary structures (including marquees, stages, tents, barriers, fences, concessions, and associated structures) for TV, film, theatre productions, and live events.

CDM 2015 makes the general duties of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 more specific. They complement the general Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and integrate health and safety into the management of construction projects.

The aim is for construction health and safety considerations to be treated as a normal part of an event/production’s management and development, not an afterthought or bolt-on extra. In context with wider measures taken to ensure a safer event/production, the objective of CDM 2015 is to reduce the risk of harm to those that have to build, fit out, use, maintain, and take down structures.

The key principles of CDM 2015 will be familiar to those already managing risks effectively as part of an event/production. The key principles are:

  • Eliminate or control risks so far as reasonably practicable; 
    (This means balancing the level of risk against the measures needed to control the real risk in terms of money, time, or trouble. However, you do not need to take action if it would be grossly disproportionate to the level of risk)
  • Ensure work is effectively planned;
  • Appointing the right people and organisations at the right time;
  • Making sure everyone has the information, instruction, training, and supervision they need to carry out their jobs safely and without damaging health;
  • Have systems in place to help parties cooperate and communicate with each other and coordinate their work; and
  • Consult workers with a view to securing effective health, safety, and welfare measures.

Any actions you take to comply with CDM 2015 should always be proportionate to the risks involved.

Summary of duties under Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM)

CDM Duty holders – Who are they?

Main duties – What they need to do

Clients – Organisations or individuals for whom a construction project is carried out. They maybe event organisers, production managers or promoters.  

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

  • other duty holders are appointed as appropriate
  • sufficient time and resources are allocated

Make sure:

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

Designers - 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 structure once it is built

Provide information to other members of the project team to help them fulfill 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.

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 duty holders.

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. 

They may be the main contractors and/or have sub-contractors working for them.   

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 
  • 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 provided

Contractors – 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.  

Workers – Those working for or under the control of contractors on a production or event 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 duty holders

* Organisations or individuals can carry out the role of more than one duty holder, provided they have the skills, 


The Client is the first duty holder to exist on the project, this is the person or organisation having the construction project carried out.

Clients may not be carrying out any of the work themselves, but they have essential legal duties under CDM including appointing other duty holders and making sure duties are carried out, allowing sufficient time and resources, and ensuring relevant information is prepared and provided.

Principal Designer

This is the designer in overall control of the pre-construction phase. On projects with more than one contractor (including subcontractors and contractors not appointed by the Client), a Principal Designer must be appointed in writing.

When a Client does not appoint a Principal Designer, they automatically become responsible for the responsibilities of the Principal Designer.

The Principal Designer has responsibilities for preparing and providing information and planning, managing, and monitoring the pre-construction phase health and safety arrangements. This includes identifying and controlling risks during project preparation, and ensuring other designers carry out their duties.

Principal Contractor

This is the contractor in overall control of the construction phase. Again, this role must be appointed by the Client on any project with more than one contractor (including subcontractors and contractors not appointed by the Client). The Client, (together with his or her Site and Production Manager), may also be the Principal Contractor.

And again, failure to appoint a Principal Contractor means the Client automatically becomes responsible for the responsibilities of the Principal Contractor.

Principal Contractors are responsible for planning, managing, monitoring, and coordinating the construction phase of the project, including preparing documents, organising, cooperating, managing, and liaising with other duty holders. They must ensure site inductions are provided, prevent unauthorised access, provide welfare facilities, and consult and engage workers on health and safety matters.


Any person preparing or modifying designs for a building, product, or system relating to construction work is a Designer under CDM.

This duty holder is therefore appointed automatically, and while there can only be one Principal Designer appointed at any time, there could be multiple Designers.

As CDM duty holders, they must eliminate, reduce and control foreseeable risks that may arise from the design during construction and provide information to other members of the project including information for the Health and Safety File.


Contractors are those who carry out the construction work, and like Designers, there can be many Contractor duty holders on a project and are automatically appointed based on the fact they are doing construction work.

Contractors need to plan, manage and monitor the construction work under their control to that is carried out safely, coordinate their activities with other contractors, and comply with directions from the Principal Contractor and Principal Designer.





CDM administration for the Entertainment industry

Construction phase plan (CPP)

For projects involving more than one contractor, it is the Principal Contractor's (PC's) duty to ensure the plan is prepared. For single-contractor projects, the contractor must do this.

Proportionate to the scale and complexity of the work and risks involved, the plan must set out:

  • the health and safety management arrangements for any construction work;
  • the construction site rules;
  • and where applicable, specific measures concerning work involving the particular risks listed in Schedule 3 of CDM 2015  (i.e. work near HV power lines, work at height, and work involving the assembly and disassembly of heavy prefabricated components).

The information may be combined with or exist as part of other documents e.g. an event management plan, providing that this does not result in the health and safety information being lost or buried. What matters is that people can find the information they need easily and the information is clearly identified as the construction phase plan. 

CDM health and safety file

The CDM client must ensure that the Principal Designer (PD) prepares a health and safety file when a project involves more than one contractor. This will require cooperation from others in the project team.

The file should only contain information about significant and/or unusual risks that are likely to be needed during any subsequent project e.g. the next event/production. The type of information could include how a novel structure has to be dismantled in a particular sequence to ensure it remains stable during dismantling.

The file should contain enough detail to allow the likely risks to be identified and addressed by those carrying out the work and be proportionate to those risks. It shouldn’t include pre-construction information, contractual documents, etc.

A proportionate approach to routine, standard set, and temporary structure build may simply be to say there are no unusual or significant features – in terms of its design or construction methods.

Similar to a CPP, the file information may be combined with other documents providing that this does not result in the health and safety information being lost or buried. What matters is that people can find the information they need easily. 

Notification of a CDM project

The CDM Client must ensure that the project is notified to HSE if construction work lasts longer than 30 working days and has more than 20 workers working simultaneously on it or exceeds 500 person days.