UK: Building Works In Pharmacies – Safety First

Last Updated: 3 June 2013
Article by Patricia Nathan-Amissah

What's CDM?

Whether you are buying brand new pharmacy premises which you intend to fit out or are fitting out existing premises, there are certain health and safety considerations to bear in mind. As a pharmacist involved in construction works you need to be aware of The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM) and the responsibilities imposed on your business as 'a client' under CDM. There are serious consequences for breach including criminal sanctions.

CDM applies apply to a wide variety of all construction projects (as defined in CDM) including alterations, fitting out, renovation and repair, redecoration and maintenance. There is no exclusion for small projects. Many small projects can involve hazardous work on very busy sites so health and safety can be a real issue.

Who's the Client?

A client for CDM is a business or undertaking (including sole trader and partnership pharmacies) for whom the project is carried out. If you are in control of the project, are paying or will pay for the activities which comprise the project and initiated the project, then you will be the client under CDM. As a pharmacist you are unlikely to be experienced in managing construction sites and will need specialist advice on how this is best carried out not only to comply with the law but to keep those visiting the site safe.

Deciding who is the client is not always easy. If you are a tenant carrying out fit out works you may be a client under CDM with the responsibilities which attach. However, if you ask the landlord to carry out additional works to premises which you intent to occupy then the landlord would probably be the "client" under the CDM Regulations. It is not always clear who is the client but the important thing is that the client is identified and agreed e.g. where a purchase is completed before completion of the relevant works.

You cannot contract out of responsibilities under CDM by appointing an agent (which it was possible to do under the original 1994 CDM regulations).

What Work is Covered?

The client duties apply in relation to:

  • major construction projects;
  • minor building works and;
  • small projects involving refurbishment and repair work.

What Criteria Determines the Duties Imposed?

Duties under CDM can be:

  • duties imposed for all construction work (including those which are non notifiable); and
  • additional requirements for projects above the notification threshold (projects likely to last more than 30 working days or involving more than 500 person days of construction work)

As a client your duties will depend on whether CDM applies and whether the project is notifiable or non-notifiable as defined under CDM.

What Does the Client have to do?

Under CDM the client is responsible for:

  • checking the competence and resources of appointed designers, contractors and other team members;
  • ensuring suitable management arrangements are in place;
  • providing adequate project resourcing and construction information to contractors and designers at all stages;
  • providing pre-construction information to designers and contractors.

Where the project is a notifiable project the client must:

  • appoint a competent CDM co-ordinator in writing;
  • to assist with client's duties and to co-ordinate the arrangements for health and safety during the planning phase;
  • appoint a principal contractor;
  • ensure that the construction phase does not start until the principal contractor has prepared a construction phase plan and there are suitable welfare facilities;
  • ensure the health and safety file is prepared

On small projects there may not be any duty to appoint a CDM co-ordinator but may such projects involve busy sites and hazardous work so there are still health and safety issues to be managed. The HSE may be able to advise or consideration may be given to appointing a CDM Co-ordinator even if the project is non-notifiable, particularly where projects are close to the thresholds for notifiable projects. There are also helpful guidance notes published by the HSE in an Approved Code of Practice (ACoP).

The Future?

Before Christmas the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) announced that it intends to redraft CDM. The new CDM will not only be based on the HSE's own evaluations but will also be closely based on EU Temporary or Mobile Construction Sites Directive. The aim is to improve standards even further and remove current areas of ambiguity. Interestingly the HSE's evaluation in relation to smaller clients observes that one off and smaller clients do not have any standards by which to measure what is required and are very reliant on their appointed CDM Co-ordinator for advice. However the legal responsibility stays with the client – at least under the current legislative regime.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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Patricia Nathan-Amissah
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