CDM Regulations – Your Responsibilities

CDM Regulations – Your Responsibilities

If you are having some landscaping work done by a contractor, you have a legal duty to comply with the CDM Regulations 2015. Sounds scary doesn’t it? Don’t panic – we can make it simple for you.

What are CDM Regulations?

CDM is short for Construction (Design and Management).  CDM 2015 Regulations are a set of rules that make sure construction work is carried out safely. They apply to businesses and to householders. If the regulations are not met and somebody gets hurt, then whoever is responsible for site safety could be sued.

Landscaping counts as construction. So if you are a householder planning to hire a landscaper, you need to protect yourself by understanding and complying with these regulations.

According to the Health and Safety Executive “CDM 2015 is not about creating unnecessary and unhelpful processes and paperwork. It is about choosing the right team and helping them to work together to ensure health and safety.”

Good News For domestic landscaping client

The only responsibility a domestic client has is to appoint a principal designer and a principal contractor. Your duties will then be automatically transferred to the person or organisation you’ve appointed.

Any qualified and reputable landscaper or garden designer will be very well aware of the law and will help keep you on the straight and narrow.  If your landscaper doesn’t mention CDM 2015 when discussing work plans with you, double-check who will be taking responsibility for health, safety and welfare.

excavating landscaping project at tiptree

This landscaping project in Tiptree, Essex involved quite a lot of earth works. While work was underway there were tripping hazzards and potential risks to site workers and site visitors.  Under CDM (2015) Regulations, the client had appointed Holland Landscapes as Principal Contractor which meant that site health and safety became the legal responsibility of the landscaper and not the householder.

Why do we need CDM Regulations?

I’m not a lawyer, but as I understand it The Occupiers’ Liability Acts of 1957 and 1984 mean that you have a duty of care to make sure that anybody on your property (whether welcome or not) is warned of any danger and kept safe from it.  You could be held liable in law if you fail to do so and an accident happens. (Please double check that yourself before you quote it though – as I say I’m not an expert in law.)

When you have any work done to your property, inside or outside, there will be risks. The CDM 2015 Regulations make sure those risks are assessed and minimised.

What possible risks are there in landscaping projects?

  • Falls from height eg tree work
  • Tripping hazards – eg uneven surfaces
  • Collapse of excavations
  • Collapse of structures
  • Exposure to building dusts
  • Exposure to asbestos
  • Electricity
  • Using power tools


How do you, as a client, comply with CDM 2015 Regulations?

Having your garden landscaped is a big adventure and it should be a relaxed and happy experience for you. Ok, you will probably have to put up with mud and dust and mess and noise at times but thats temporary and its all part of the fun. If somebody was seriously hurt though, that would be more than an inconvenience. How would that make you feel? That doesn’t just apply to the ladies and gentlemen doing the work. It applies to you, your friends and family, the paper boy, the postman and anyone who sets foot on your property.

If you were to spend every single moment worrying about looking after everyone, you wouldn’t enjoy seeing your new garden emerge from the mud. You need to appoint someone to take the worry away from you.

The good news is that you can legally transfer responsibility to the contractor. All you need to do is write a very short letter or email to the contractor appointing him (or her) as principal designer and principal contractor.

As an aside here – I’ve worked in the landscape industry for a long time and I have a great deal of respect for any legitimate landscaper. However, if you are talking to a so-called contractor who is elusive about their business address, only gives you a mobile number as a contact and offers a good deal for “cash”. Be very wary. Do you trust them to have a health and safety policy in place?

All you need to do now, is follow the progress of the project, take note of the contractor’s advice and maybe occasionally supply tea and biscuits for the workforce (optional).

Holland Landscapes and CDM Regulations

Holland Landscapes are members of the APL which means that the Company is vetted regularly to make sure we comply with all legal requirements. That means that all of our managers and operatives regularly undergo health and safety training. They fully understand their responsibilities to themselves and to others.

We’re all very fussy about personal protective equipment. We keep machinery very well maintained so that it’s less likely to go wrong. And we make sure there are enough people working on site to keep each other safe.

My Dad Chris and I, have 50 years experience of the landscape industry between us. In that time we have both heard horror stories of other people being hurt on landscaping projects. Fortunately we’ve never had a serious incident on one of our sites and believe me, we don’t want one either. We do everything in our power to avoid accidents and we hope that you can trust us to carry do your landscaping work safely and efficiently.

More about CDM 2015

The Health and Safety Executive have published a short guide for clients on the Construction Design and Management Regulations 2015.

You can download it here

This is a typical government document. You’ll need somewhere quiet and undisturbed to read and decipher it.


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