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3rd March 2017

Do the CDM Regulations apply to all maintenance work?

When the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM Regulations) came into force nearly two years ago, they caused a lot of confusion for the industry. There were significant changes to roles and responsibilities. In addition, the consensus opinion was that most building works and maintenance activity was covered. Is this right?

The legal jargon

The definition of ‘construction’ in the CDM Regulations is very broad. In addition to the expected types of heavy building works, the term includes the ‘repair, upkeep, decoration and other maintenance…of a structure.’ It also covers the maintenance, repair or removal of fixed services. E.g. mechanical, electrical, gas, compressed air, hydraulic, computer cables and telephone systems. Plus, it includes industrial-type cleaning such as pressure washing and use of corrosives.

This definition is the same as under the previous CDM Regulations, but the main change under the new 2015 regulations is that a Construction Phase Plan is now required for all these works. Whereas under the 2007 regulations this only applied to specific larger projects.


The change was a major concern to those at the lower end of the scale, and we now have a ridiculous situation where trades such as plumbers and handymen undertaking a few small jobs in a domestic property become entangled in the new requirements. This has also caused significant problems for businesses such as housing associations with repair teams, electricians and painters etc.

Keeping quiet

Whilst businesses tried to find practical solutions – the HSE remained quiet. There was no Approved Code of Practice to accompany the new regulations, and the guidance developed by the Construction industry wasn’t particularly helpful either. The HSE did finally produce a template for small trades to use (click here) but realistically most one man bands remained totally oblivious. Considering the strives to reduce red tape on smaller business for H&S in recent years, expecting a busy domestic plumber or joiner to complete this form for each and every job is not a realistic expectation. For larger organisations who wanted to comply this was also a bit of a nightmare.

Good news

The HSE has finally published a Q&A briefing document to help its own Inspectors understand whether work falls under CDM.

In doing so it has cleared up the technical wording in a rather unexpected way. ‘Where maintenance activity involves construction processes, requires construction skills and uses construction materials, it is most likely to fall within the term construction work. General maintenance adjustments, replacing parts or lubrication is unlikely to be construction work.’ As a result of this statement, the following works do not fall under the remit of CDM:

• Treeworks,
• Industrial cleaning,
• Inspection/testing of services,
• Maintenance of plant such as boilers and lifts
• Minor repairs e.g. to doors, floors and walls.

If you would like to know more about how Lighthouse can assist you with your CDM 2015 obligations, click on the link, or give us a call on 0845 4591724.

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