Principal Contractor working on Construction project

Understanding the CDM Regulations

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 have been designed to help all areas of construction improve their safety. There have been a few revisions of the regulations, but their goals have remained the same, to ensure the safety and welfare of all people who are involved in construction projects (and projects that qualify as construction such as maintenance). Most recently updated in 2015 and hence known as the CDM regulations 2015.

In this piece, we will go over all the regulations to help you best understand how they can be applied to your business and help keep your projects compliant.

What the CDM Regulations aim to do

The CDM regulations were created to make sure that no matter the role, anyone involved within a construction project is safe. It places legal duties on those involved with the planning and carrying out of construction type activities.

The regulation should help you to understand:

  • How to sensibly plan the work so the risks involved are managed from start to finish
  • To have the right people for the right job at the right time
  • How to cooperate and coordinate your work with others
  • To get the right information about the risks and how they are being managed
  • How to communicate this information effectively to those who need to know
  • consult and engage with workers about the risks and how they are being managed

HSE has published Legal Series guidance that supports CDM 2015 and explains it in more detail.

The term “Duty holder” is applied to those who have legal duties under CDM – These “Duty holders”, are defined as follows; Clients (commercial and residential), Principal Designers, Designers, Principal Contractors, and contractors

Summary of duty holders and their responsibilities:

Commercial clients:

Organisations or individuals for whom a construction project is carried out that is done as part of a business.

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

  • Other duty holders are appointed as and where appropriate
  • Sufficient time and resources are allocated
  • Relevant information is prepared and provided to other duty holders
  • The principal designer and principal contractor carry out their duties
  • Welfare facilities are provided

Domestic Clients:

People who have construction work carried out in their own home (or the home of a family member) that is not a commercial undertaking.*

In the scope of CDM 2015, the client duties are normally transferred to:

  • The contractor for single contract projects
  • The principal contractor for projects that use more than one contractor

Please note, the domestic client can instead request to have a written agreement with the principal designer to carry out the client duties.

Principle designers:

Are to be appointed by the client in projects involving more than one contractor. They can be from an organisation or an individual with sufficient knowledge, experience, and ability to carry out the role.

Responsibilities include planning, managing, monitoring, and coordinating the health and safety during the pre-construction phase of a project, this includes:

  • Identifying, eliminating, and controlling foreseeable risks
  • Ensuring the 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.

Principle contractors:

Appointed by the client to coordinate the construction phase of the contract where it involves more than one contract.

Responsible for the planning, managing and coordination of health & safety in the construction phase of a project, including:

  • Liaising with clients and principal contractors
  • Preparing the construction phase plan
  • Organising cooperation between contractors and coordinating their work.
  • Suitable site inductions are provided
  • Reasonable steps are taken to prevent unauthorised access
  • Workers are consulted and engaged in securing their health and safety
  • Adequate Welfare facilities are provided

 

Designers:

Organisations or individuals who on behalf of an organisation, prepare or modify designs for buildings and or products or systems relating to construction work.

When preparing or modifying designs, the designer must eliminate, reduce, or control foreseeable risks that may arise during these stages:

  • Construction
  • Future maintenance

They must also provide information to other members of the project team to help them plan and carry out their duties safely.

Contractors:

Those who carry out the actual construction work, contractors can be an individual or a company.

Will need to plan, manage, and monitor construction work under their control so it is carried out without risks to health and safety, including:

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 construction 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, knowledge, experience and organisation capability necessary to carry out those roles in a way that secures health and safety.

construction building site foreman / contractor

How to source reliable contractors?

Finding reliable contractors is the one area in which all clients and house-builders need to get right. Having issues in your supply chain means work may be finished to a poor standard which will cost you time and money, neither of which will be something you can do when you’re pushed for time to get deadlines met.

The positive sides to finding a good contractor are often great, once the relationship and trust between you has been built you will have often found someone for future projects that you know you can rely on and over time this can lead to a group of contractors that you can use over and over on all your sites.

So how do you find good contractors?

Portals

One of the first areas to look out for clients is via an accreditation portal such as the SMAS Worksafe portal or SSIP portal.  If you’re a client that requires contractors to be accredited to a specific level, then going to a portal is the best starting place.

Once you’re in the portal you can now start to refine your search by the trades you require and look for other areas of compliance that you might require, such as environmental or quality management. We recommended choosing businesses with quality management systems in place, a business that is driven by high-quality work is often likely going to save you time in any snagging processes and are less likely to need their work to be redone due to poor standards.

 

Networking

Contractor and client networking event

Another way to find contractors is through networking at events such as Construction Connects, hosted by SMAS Worksafe. At these ‘meet the buyer’ events, you will have the chance to attend and set up a stool for contractors to come in and talk to you about what upcoming jobs you have and what trades you’ll need for the job or future jobs.

Often these events are local to an area in which you have upcoming projects, so it is a great way for you to easily get more contractors in your contact book and that are interested in the type of work you’re offering. Attending events like this can save you a lot of time browsing portals and searching the web.

 

Try and find a reference

Group of contractors laughing on a wall during break

If you have identified a few contractors that seem suitable for the role and you’re unsure as to which to go with you can ask other clients, you know or some of your current contractors to see if they have had any experience working with them on previous jobs.

You may have contractors working on your site who have experience working with them and they will be able to give you a perspective on their standards of work and how they were to work with. Bringing in a contractor that your current contractors struggle to work with could cause some delays or friction on your sites.

 

Do your research

The final step in your vetting process if you’re still unsure is to do your own research. Look at their website and their reviews and see if you can find any feedback or examples of jobs, they have done in the past that are similar to the one you’re asking them to do.

Not only will you be able to see their reviews and if there are any trends within their reviews, but you’ll also get a feel for the company, what are their ethos and morals? Do they demand high standards?

If you can get the process of sourcing contractors right and you’re able to build up mutual respect you might find yourself with a contractor for life. Then going forward you’ll know you can rely on them to get the work done to a high standard and in good time and develop a strong working relationship that will help both parties.

SMAS Worksafe SSIP Accreditation

SSIP accreditation: Everything you need to know

SSIP or Safety Scheme in Procurement is a standard for health & safety that is recognised throughout the United Kingdom. It was created to ensure a reduction in health and safety assessment costs and bureaucracy in the supply chain, by making cross-recognition between member schemes as effective as possible.

SSIP is now accepted and recognised by thousands of clients across the UK, making the process for vetting contractors a simple process and there is no need to compare different standards of accreditation.

“Do I need SSIP?”

SSIP is something that any business across any industry can obtain but it is generally required for contractors in the construction industry.

The most common reason for businesses obtaining SSIP accreditation is that they work for a client requesting it as a requirement to enter and work on their site. Therefore, contractors who work with these clients are required to become accredited to work.

Although other industries might not require SSIP, businesses often take out accreditation as a good practice. It reassures business owners that their health & safety policies are of a high standard and any risks are being dealt with or reduced as much as possible. 

“How do I get SSIP accredited?”

If you’re required or want to become SSIP accredited, then you will need to find an SSIP Member Scheme that can give you a certificate once you have passed the question set.

There are 30 registered member schemes and SMAS Worksafe is one of these schemes. We help businesses obtain their SSIP certificates and help support them not just through the process but also with guidance on how they can improve their health & safety going forward.

Once all the questions have been answered and you’ve uploaded all the required information, one of our assessors will check over all the details and let you know if there are any issues with your submission. Once you have passed all the questions you will then hold an SSIP certificate which is valid for 12-months.

“What is the SSIP core criteria?”

To gain SSIP accreditation your business must be able to show that you meet the core criteria. All SSIP member schemes will require this information from you and below you can see a breakdown of what areas you will need to meet.

  1. Health & Safety policy and organisation for Health & Safety
  2. Arrangements
  3. Competent advice – corporate and construction-related
  4. Training and information
  5. Individual qualifications and experience
  6. Monitoring, audit and review
  7. Workforce involvement
  8. Accident reporting and enforcement action; follow up investigation
  9. Sub-contracting /consulting procedures (if applicable)
  10. Risk assessment leading to a safe system of work
  11. Co-operating with others and coordinating your work with that of other contractors
  12. Welfare provision

Additional Construction Sector Criteria: 

  1. Hazard elimination and risk control (Designers & Principal Designers only)
  2. Principal Designer duties (Principal Designers only)
  3. Supplementary Construction Industry Criteria (alignment with Common Assessment Standard)

“I already have an SSIP certificate, but I’m being asked for a SMAS?”

Although SSIP is recognised throughout the UK, some clients may have a preference on what scheme you hold your SSIP certificate with, for example, you might have an SSIP assessment with CHAS or Constructionline but a particular client is asking for one from SMAS Worksafe.

In this case, your best option is to take out a ‘deem to satisfy’ (DTS) with SMAS Worksafe – this is where instead of going through the full SMAS Worksafe assessment we will view your existing SSIP certificate and grant you a SMAS Worksafe accreditation without the need for a full assessment and for a reduced fee.

It’s also worth noting that if you are a contractor working for several clients asking for varied SSIP assessments, do some research into full and DTS pricing. For example, if you hold a full assessment with CHAS but require SMAS Worksafe for a client it might be cheaper to take a full assessment with SMAS Worksafe and then DTS with CHAS.

Benefits of having your SSIP accreditation with SMAS Worksafe

SMAS Worksafe are always trying to give their members the most from their SSIP assessments. We don’t want your yearly assessment to be the only time we touch bases with you and instead offer you year-round support and benefits.

SMAS Worksafe leads the way for customer service, all our expert assessors are based in-house and on the phones all day to help support you through your assessments should you need it. Lots of member schemes often outsource their assessors which can lead to the phone not being answered when you need it and inconsistent standards when going through your application.

We also lead the way in turnaround times, we can turn around your SSIP assessment in as little as 1 day. This allows you to get back on-site as soon as possible. Depending on your membership with SMAS Worksafe you may also have access to all these member benefits.

  • 10% off Tradepoint
  • 15% off all iHASCO courses
  • A Work Wallet subscription
  • Mid-year review
  • Year-round access to our expert in-house assessors

To learn more about SMAS Worksafe’s member options, please view our pricing and packaging page.

top view hand shake of engineer and building contractor on table / SMAS Worksafe

How do contractors win clients?

Being a contractor can be tough, you rely on others to bring you work and without clients to supply you with a more consistent flow of work. Life can be tough but with clients, you have the platform for limitless opportunities.

But how do you get the clients?

In this article we will be going over some of the thing’s businesses successful with clients do and how you can go about winning clients and tender for your business.

Networking:

Client and contractor shaking hands following tender agreement / SMAS Worksafe

One of the best ways for businesses to meet contractors and swap details is by going to networking events, such as Construction Connects which is hosted by SMAS Worksafe. Events such as this will allow you to turn up and meet contractors who have current or upcoming projects in your area.

You can also identify your own potential clients. You can search for upcoming projects in your area and reach out directly to them to arrange a meeting. Make sure you consider the size of the project and whether it is appropriate for your business.

Once you have identified the client, reach out to them outlining your services and work capacity, the project you’re looking for might not be right for either party but now the relationship has been formed there is potential for them to contact you regarding other projects. Your willingness to reach out to them shows them you’re keen and the fact you have reached out to them may save them the hassle of trying to source a contractor later.

If your business employs subcontractors, you can also use them to find out about potential work or clients that may require contractors by asking them. Use them to get you in touch with clients and to keep you posted about opportunities that might be coming up.

Referrals:

Another way in which your business can win contracts from clients is via referral. You may be invited to contract bidding processes from clients you already have a network with. Those clients may also have partners or members that require contractors on other jobs and can extend tender invitations to you.

Building lots of strong relationships in your industry is the best way for your business to go to the next level and continue to win client deals. Working with a client and meeting or exceeding their expectations is the first step, you need to make sure that you’re building up credibility with the people you’re working with so that they feel confident in recommending you to others.

Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals either, requesting a referral might be the best way to earn one. It might be something that a client hadn’t considered, or they might simply have not gotten around to asking businesses and putting yourself forward will put your business in pole position.

The more extensive your list of clients and contacts is and the better your reputation the more likely you are to obtain referrals. However, the most important aspect of gaining referrals is making sure that your business reflects high standards of safety and quality within the industry.

Of course, there is little value in building a referral network for your contractor business if your actual work does not reflect the high standards of quality and safety that clients expect within the industry. Clients are unlikely to recommend a business that is doing a poor job and risk damaging their own reputation. A commitment to standards of excellence is essential for developing a robust referral network that can help you get more contracts. Having a relevant and up-to-date health and safety accreditation like SSIP is a major asset, not only does it demonstrate your dedication to high standards, but it may also be a prequalification to work for the client.

Make yourself visible

The next way to win contracts with big clients is by letting them come to you. Most major clients will

have project management teams that are looking out for the best contractors in their area to come and work on their projects, this means that on occasions they will be going out of their way to look for contractors.

Digital marketing growth to win clients / SMAS Worksafe

Your business can make the most of this by doing two things well:

  1. Making sure that your business shows up in the right areas – create a good digital profile that explains exactly what your business can do.
  2. Build up a reputable name with your existing clients and use review platforms such as Feefo and Trustpilot to boost your digital profile.

Stretch your businesses digital platform across as many channels as possible, use a mixture of website, web ads and social media to help cover as much area as possible. This not only helps clients to find you but will help smaller businesses to look bigger and more professional.

The messaging across these platforms should be consistent and display your businesses work, values, qualities, certificates and accreditations along with any awards you have won or been nominated for.

Creating case studies is also a great way to show off work you’ve done to clients, creating profiles about jobs you’ve done with feedback or quotes from the customers. These could be in video or written form.

You can also explore digital marketing strategies; this could involve hiring someone to oversee the businesses digital presence or outsourcing it to an agency. This will allow someone to manage and develop social media, display advertising and search engine optimisation. Doing this will direct a flow of client traffic to your website and show off your business – it’s great to have a good website but if you’re not bringing traffic to your site then it is ultimately a wasted effort.

Sourcing through SMAS Worksafe

Networking is a great way to win clients, but you may be able to obtain clients through the SMAS Worksafe portal.

Our clients can search for contractors using the SMAS Worksafe portal and reach out to them. All our members are visible to clients on the portal but those with further areas of compliance may gain an advantage over those with just health & safety as clients can see that the contractor is not just SSIP accredited but environmental management and quality management systems are in place.

All our members can upload documents relating to further areas of compliance for free however they will not be checked against IEMA or IRCA standards unless you have an Essential or Complete membership.

Further areas of compliance supported by SMAS Worksafe:SMAS PS_Service_Wheel

  • Environmental management
  • Quality management
  • Anti-bribery and corruption
  • Modern slavery
  • Finance and business