The second blog of our employee spotlight series, we chat with principal designer Sam Tantum about the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and his experience of working at HLN Engineering.
Tell us a bit about yourself
Prior to working as a health and safety professional, I was in the armed forces for 10 years. I left in 2006 and quickly realised there wasn’t much demand for the skills I learned in the Royal Navy, so I went back to college and re-trained. I completed a NEBOSH (National Exam Board in Occupational Safety and Health) course, which is the primary health and safety qualification. I started with the NEBOSH General Certificate, then completed the NEBOSH Construction, followed by the NEBOSH Fire and Risk Management Certificate, which lead me into my first professional health and safety role.
How long have you been a Principal Designer?
Since 2015 when the regulations changed. Prior to that I worked as as a CDM Co-ordinator, or CDMC, the name given under the old 2007 regulations. When the regulations changed in 2015, they did away with the old CDMC role and introduced the role of Principal Designer and, with some additional training, I’ve been one ever since.
How long have you been working at HLN Engineering Ltd?
I started in July 2017, so not that long, although I’ve worked on a wide range of different and interesting projects. Suffice to say, I’m enjoying my time here.
What can you tell us about the CDM 2015?
CDM 2015 governs how the construction industry operates from a health and safety perspective. CDM 2015 is applicable throughout the life of a project – it covers everything from conception and design right through to the construction phase. The regulations are even applicable beyond this, from how the building is maintained right through to the end of its life, should it be demolished. Unsurprisingly, there’s a lot of documentation. At the end of a project you produce a health and safety file, which instructs the client on how to safely manage the building.
Is it your job to oversee all of this on site?
Not always on site. Essentially, I control the health and safety paperwork on behalf of the client. I’ll assist the client in producing the pre-construction information, which typically includes initial designs, old health and safety files, even asbestos surveys if required. We look at the designs and ensure that the designers have considered health and safety in their design process and identify any remaining health and safety risks.
If we’re retained as principal designers during the construction phase, I’ll oversee the health and safety requirements by assisting the principal contractor. This is mostly achieved through audits and attending site meetings.
At the end of the construction phase, the principal contractor will supply me with any relevant health and safety information, which allows me to put the health and safety file together for the client.
So, there’s a lot of client liaison?
Yes, I’d say 80% of the job is client liaison and relationship building. It’s important to me that the client understands their role in the process and is comfortable in understanding their duties.
Do you only work with commercial clients, or do you offer this service to domestic clients as-well?
The CDM regulations cover both commercial and domestic clients. That said, the rules are more stringent for commercial clients. For example, commercial clients have a legal duty to appoint a principal designer if there’s more than one contractor. Where domestic clients are concerned, if they fail to appoint a principal designer or principal contractor, then the main contractor and designer involved must take on certain health and safety duties by law.
What does a typical day look like for you?
It varies, depending on how much work I have to do. I usually start my day catching up on emails, then, depending on what projects I have on, I could spend the day reviewing technical drawings, the technical specifications of a project, assessing how the health and safety aspects of those drawings may be affected and so on. A lot of my time is also spent attending project and site meetings.
Typically, my duties extend from the beginning of a project, right through to the end and beyond. Suffice to say, my workload can vary greatly.
What project are you currently working on?
I’m currently working with several blue-chip companies, mostly refurbishment work. I’m also busy overseeing a number of smaller projects on behalf of the Ministry of Justice.
The biggest project I’m currently involved in is a national project for a well-known High Street building society…
What is your proudest moment to date at HLN Engineering Ltd?
It was a recent project on behalf of a longstanding client, 3M, in Loughborough. I was involved from the beginning – along with the architectural department – right through to the very end. It was a very rewarding experience, witnessing an old, dis-used building gradually being transformed into a brand-new work space with all the latest fixtures and fittings.
What do you think the future holds for Principal Designers and the CDM 2015?
I think CDM will change again. Three years have passed since the CDM 2015 came into force and I don’t think it has been as effective as the HSE and relevant governing bodies anticipated. It has had some effect, but not a great deal, especially where small companies and independent contractors are concerned. In my view, this is where CDM needs to change. A lot of smaller contractors aren’t aware of the regulations and, through education, they could be brought up to speed.
For more information on our principal designer service, get in touch with Sam today.