Arch. Pt. III: Should a CDM co-ordinator be appointed for master-planning?

At the talk on 10th September 2007 we discussed whether the duty to appoint a CDM co-ordinator related to master-planning. Under the CDM a “project” “means a project which includes or is intended to include construction work and includes all planning, design, management or other work involved in a project until the end of the construction phase”; master-planning relates to work which eventually is intended to include construction work, but probably falls within the scope of “initial design work” as discussed in an earlier posting today (30th September 2007). The same comments about considering health and safety made there are also relevant here. The thrust of the regulations appears to be on more immediate risks such on falls, slips and illness caused by hazardous materials but broader, but more strategic risks are not excluded.

These broader risks, relevant to master-planning, might include such health and safety issues as urban design which tends to promote the use of cars as against walking and cycling. This has been shown in research to be related to obesity and ill-health. Other risks which might also need be considered at the master-planning stage are flood risk (building in the flood-plain), or on areas of contaminated land or soil instability. I’ve never heard of cases where such longer term risks have been cited by the HSE (but I’m not a lawyer so I’m saying this tentatively in the absence of finding any authoritative comment one way or the other). However, in law there are occasions when the limits of the law are tested, and sometimes extended, in the courts.

My feeling is therefore that there is no need under the regulations to appoint a CDM Co-ordinator for the Masterplanning stage. However, when the CDM co-ordinator is appointed that appointee should instigate a review of the master-plan, or at least check that health and safety factors were properly considerd by the design team, before design of individual projects, such as buildings, roads and bridges proceeds too far. The risks identified in the review of the master-plan should be approached using the ‘ERIC’ strategy (ERIC: eliminate, reduce at source, inform, control).

As commented in the earlier posting it might be commercially sensible to appoint the CDM co-ordinator earlier rather than as late as possible.

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About nickzsc

I'm a civil engineer and a lecturer in the Department of Real Estate and Construction at Oxford Brookes. Amongst others I have interests in problem-based learning (PBL) and improving the learning experience through the use of various technologies including 'Virtual Learning Enviroments', wikis and blogs. To be continued
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