How to Check if CDM 2015 Applies to Your Project

CDM 2015

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015) were designed by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in order to promote safety standards on construction sites. When do CDM 2015 regulations apply? The answer is not always clear. This article explores when the CDM regulations come into force and the scope and coverage of the regulations.

Where CDM Applies

Firstly, we will look at the types of work covered by CDM 2015.

There are two steps to determine whether or not an activity falls within the definition of construction work and, therefore, if CDM 2015 applies.

Step 1: The project must fall within one or more of the following three main categories of work to be within the scope of CDM:

  • Building
  • Civil engineering
  • Engineering construction work

If the activity falls within any of these three categories, then CDM construction regulations apply to the project.

Step 2: If the project falls into one of the three main categories, the second stage is to decide if the task falls within a range of specific activities as defined by the CDM Regulations 2015.

CDM Training

Our CDM Training course gives a thorough understanding of Construction Design and Management Regulations (CDM Regulations) 2015, how a CDM project works and the risk assessment process to carry out a construction project.

Site Preparation

Activities where CDM 2015 applies include site preparation for an intended structure, such as:

  • Site clearance, excavation, exploration and investigation – but not site surveys or archaeological investigations
  • The clearance or preparation of the site or structure for use or occupation at its conclusion
  • The demolition or dismantling of a structure

Construction Tasks

CDM 2015 covers typical building construction tasks such as:

  • New build of a structure
  • Alterations to existing structures
  • Conversions
  • Fitting out
  • Commissioning
  • Renovation
  • Repair
  • Upkeep
  • Redecoration
  • Other maintenance work

Maintenance Tasks

CDM 2015 also covers typical maintenance tasks such as:

  • Repair
  • Upkeep
  • Redecoration
  • Other maintenance work

Assembly of Prefabricated Elements

CDM 2015 applies to the assembly of prefabricated elements, including:

  • The assembly on-site of prefabricated elements to form a structure
  • The disassembly on-site of the prefabricated elements which, immediately before such disassembly, formed a structure
  • The removal of a structure, or of any product or waste, resulting from the demolition or dismantling of a structure

Installation Tasks

CDM 2015 covers the installation, commissioning, maintenance, repair or removal of a plant involving the following tasks:

  • Mechanical
  • Electrical
  • Gas
  • Compressed air
  • Hydraulic
  • Telecommunications
  • Computers
  • Similar services which are normally fixed to or within a structure

Work at Height/Structures

Work at height on structures is covered, including:

  • Any scaffold or other structure designed or used to provide support or access during construction work
  • Any work on towers and pylons


CDM 2015 covers underground and earthworks, such as:

  • Tunnels or shafts
  • Pipes or pipelines
  • Cables
  • Earthworks
  • Underground tanks

Water Works

Water works are included, such as:

  • Dock, harbour and inland navigation
  • Bridge, viaduct and waterworks
  • Reservoirs and river works
  • Drainage and sewage works
  • Any earth retaining structures


Finally, the regulations cover specific workplaces and locations, including work on:

  • Roads
  • Airfields

Deciding if CDM Applies

We will now look in more detail at the process of deciding if CDM applies to a project or not.

As we shall see, whilst CDM provides a fairly clear definition of what’s meant by construction work, there are still grey areas where it can be hard to decide if the work is covered by the regulations or not.

One of these grey areas is maintenance and repair work. According to the HSE:

‘Where a maintenance activity involves construction processes, requires construction skills and uses construction materials, then it is most likely to fall within the term ‘construction work’.

In other words, if it clearly looks like a construction job, then it’s likely to be covered by the CDM Regulations 2015.

However, the HSE CDM statement goes on to say:

‘However, maintenance or repair of fixed plant which mainly involves mechanical adjustments, replacing parts or lubrication is unlikely to be construction work.’

To help clarify if a job is CDM notifiable and answer the question, when do CDM regulations apply, we will provide a few examples to see how this is likely to work in practice.

Example One: Boiler Repair

A boiler repair involving a mechanic who is called out to perform servicing on a boiler is not likely to be a CDM job. Why? Because it only involves the adjustment and repair of a fixed plant. These activities, as the HSE has stated, are not considered to be covered by CDM.

Example Two: Heating System Installation

Let’s assume that the same contractor is asked to install a new heating system. The job involves the same boiler, but obviously involves more extensive work such as drilling into the fabric of the building and making other adjustments to the structure.

This is likely to be a CDM job. Why? Because it involves construction type tasks. Affecting the fabric of the structure of a building will involve completing tasks that are clearly identified by the CDM regulations.

Example Three: Tree Cutting

Let’s say a contractor is hired to clear a site of a number of trees as part of a new construction project. In this scenario, such work would be seen as part of the broader construction project, therefore it would be covered by CDM.

What this example demonstrates is that if the task is clearly part of a construction project, then it will be designated as a CDM job, even if it does not immediately look like construction work.

Now, let us assume that the same contractor is hired to undertake tree cutting work which is not part of any other building or civil engineering work. It’s purely tree work, perhaps as part of a routine grounds maintenance contract.

Even though the task looks and feels the same as in the first scenario, this case would not fall under the CDM regulations as it would be considered maintenance work.

Example Four: Facilities Management

To further clarify the point about maintenance work, let’s look at some common facilities management tasks.

The HSE has stated that the following activities would not generally fall under CDM:

  • Pressure washing the steps of a premises
  • Fixed wiring inspections, and
  • The use of mechanical floor washers
  • Meter repair work
  • Cleaning solar panels

To be exempt from the CDM Regulations 2015, these tasks must not be part of other construction work.

Other examples of work that does not generally fall under the CDM construction regulations include:

  • Lift servicing
  • Switching activities in electrical substations
  • Fault detection work on electrical or gas networks
  • Various odd jobs, such as door, floor or carpet repairs

More Information on the CDM Regulations 2015

When do CDM regulations apply? As we have seen in the cases discussed, it is not always straightforward. Often, a business owner may call in a CDM consultant to advise if a project is CDM notifiable or not.

However, you can give yourself and your team a thorough grounding in the principles of the CDM Regulations 2015 by participating in an online course from Human Focus. Human Focus provides both a general CDM Training Course and CDM Duty Holder Training.

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