Just as plant life changes throughout the seasons, so too does the garden centre environment – a nod to Valentines with hearts and red roses aplenty, eggstravagant Easter displays, tiered displays of blooms and beautiful pergolas amidst bubbling jacuzzis in the summer, and Santa’s grotto buried deep in illuminated Christmas trees and even ice rinks, bringing delight to the tiniest customers, during the festive season. As creativity flows, and your garden centre transforms, it is important not to forsake your legal responsibilities under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM Regs).

Not just applicable to your typical construction site, the CDM Regs have a far wider reach. Whether you are building a seasonal or temporary small-scale structure like a display design, refurbishing an existing building, building an extension or modifying a current building, the CDM Regulations still apply. As a garden centre owner or manager, it may come as a surprise to you to learn that YOU will have responsibilities under these Regulations.

Duty Holders

Virtually everyone involved in a construction project has legal duties under the CDM Regs. These ‘duty holders’ are defined as follows.

  • Clients – defined as anyone who has construction work carried out for them. In this case, a business or business owner.  The main duty is to make sure that health and safety on the project is suitably managed.

  • Designer – defined as a person or organisation who prepares or modifies drawings, specifications, designs or calculations. Their main duty is to eliminate, reduce or control foreseeable risks that may arise during construction work or during the use and maintenance of a building once complete. If a project has more than one contractor the client must appoint a principal designer whose main duty is to manage and coordinate health and safety issues during the design phase.

  • Principal Designer – are designers appointed by the client in projects involving more than one contractor. They are involved during the pre-construction phase of a project to identify, eliminate or control foreseeable risks and ensure designers carry out their duties.

  • Principle Contractor – normally appointed when there is more than one contractor during the construction phase of a project. Their main duty is to manage, plan, monitor and coordinate health and safety during the construction phase. The principal contractor will prepare a Construction Phase Plan before construction begins, consult and engage with workers, ensure welfare facilities are provided and maintained throughout the construction phase, check workers have the relevant skills and experience, ensure workers have site-specific training and knowledge and prevent unauthorised access to the site.

  • Contractor – this can be an individual or business who oversees construction work. Anyone who manages construction work or engages construction workers is a contractor and their main duty is to plan, manage and coordinate the work under their control to ensure the health and safety of anyone affected by it.

  • Worker – defined as an individual employed by the contractor who carries out work involving building, altering, maintaining or demolishing. Workers can include such people as plumbers, electricians, painters, scaffolders, labourers, supervisors and foremen. Their main duties are to cooperate with other duty holders and report anything they see that might affect or endanger health and safety during the project.

Client Duties

Whatever the project size, as the ‘client’ you have contractual control, you need to appoint designers and contractors and determine the money, time and other resources for the project. You need to make sure relevant information is provided to other duty holders, the principal designer and contractors in order for them to carry out their duties safely.

  1. Ensure the principal designer and contractors appointed are competent – with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience.

  2. Provide pre-construction information to every designer and contractor either bidding for the work or already appointed to the project. Advise the contractor on the location of services and isolation points; any restrictions on access to the premises; and if there may be particular hazards such as asbestos present.

  3. Ensure that the principal contractor or contractor (for single contractor projects) prepares a construction phase plan before that phase begins. NB: either the client or the principle designer needs to provide sufficient information to a contractor or to the principal contractors, to allow them to develop the construction phase plan.

  4. Allow sufficient time and resources for the project.

  5. Ensure the appointed principal designer and contractors carry out their duties in managing the project.

  6. Ensure that the principal designer prepares a health and safety file for the project and that it is made available to anyone who needs it for subsequent work at the site.

  7. Provide welfare facilities.

When do your duties start and finish?

A client’s duties begin from the very start of a project, ie as soon as there has been a decision to go ahead with the project and early planning and design work begins. Your duties continue to the end of a project and beyond. You will continue to have responsibility for health and safety issues that arise from the maintenance and use of your building after construction work is finished. This responsibility continues until you dispose of your interest in the building.

What skills, knowledge and experience do you need to carry out these duties in a way that ensures health and safety?

Most clients, particularly those who only occasionally commission construction work, will not be experts and do not need to have detailed skills, knowledge or experience of the construction process. However, you do need to make suitable arrangements for your project so that it can be managed in a way that secures health and safety. This includes appointing people with the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and organisational ability to carry out the work.

Construction Phase Plans and Notifications

Two more things to remember about the CDM Regulations:

  • Construction Phase Plan – A CPP is required for every construction project before establishing the construction site. The CPP is aimed at helping contractors plan, organise a job and cooperate with others involved to make sure the work is carried out without risks to health and safety.  It will include essential information such as key dates, build stages, the identification of the main dangers as well as explaining how important health and safety information is communicated to others.

  • F10’s – If your construction project will last longer than 30 working days AND have more than 20 workers working at any time OR exceed 500 person days you must notify the HSE of your project. As the ‘client’, you are responsible for completing the notification form (known as an F10) which can be found on the HSE website.  

At Southalls, we visit our customers approximately every 6 months. During these audits, we often come across garden centres using contractors to create an elaborate season display without any forethought to the CDM Regulations. If you are planning or considering a construction project, whether large or small, please contact us for further advice on 0345 257 4015.