CDM-compliant shop refurbishments – how to control your contractors

Over the last few years, Opus have seen numerous merchants refurbish their shops. Most have substantially improved their retail environments, creating better buying experiences, building their customer base and boosting impulse purchases. However, some projects have fallen foul of the strict legal obligations surrounding refurbishment works.

The majority of shop refurbishments are governed by the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015). The Regulations ensure that health and safety risks are minimised at every stage of a construction project, and that everyone involved is protected from hazards.

Safety responsibilities are shared between various ‘duty holders’, which include designers, clients, contractors and workers. For larger-scale jobs that require the coordination of multiple contractors, a ‘principal contractor’ and ‘principal designer’ must be named.

Whatever your role in construction, the CDM Regulations aim to improve health and safety by helping you to:

  • Sensibly plan the work so the risks involved are managed from start to finish
  • Have the right people for the right job at the right time
  • Cooperate and coordinate your work with others
  • Have the right information about the risks and how they are being managed
  • Communicate this information effectively to those who need to know
  • Consult and engage with workers about the risks and how they are being managed

Your responsibilities as a client

In a shop refurbishment, merchants are most likely to be the client. This means the work is being carried out for you and it’s your responsibility to appoint a principal designer and principal contractor.

It’s also your duty to make suitable arrangements for managing the project. This includes ensuring:

  • Other duty holders are appointed as appropriate
  • Sufficient time and resources are allocated
  • Relevant information is prepared and provided to other duty holders
  • The principal designer and principal contractor perform their duties
  • Welfare facilities are provided

However, your duties don’t stop there. The companies you engage need to be competent and trained to do the job. You must make them aware of any risks related to your workplace, as well as detailed information about your health and safety arrangements and emergency procedures. Other critical contractor checks include:

  • Public liability insurance
  • Risk assessments, safe systems of work, method statements and permits to work for high-risk projects
  • Onsite schedules, working hours and workspaces
  • Security, access and procedures for signing in and out
  • Use of electricity, gas and water supplies  
  • Quality checks and monitoring

Risk assessments and special considerations

Conducting a risk assessment prior to your refurbishment identifies key hazards and reduces the likelihood of accidents and injuries. If your project will be carried out during operating hours, your risk assessment must reflect that your business is still trading. Safety controls should take into account the proximity of contractors to employees and customers and establish suitable separation measures.

In addition, merchants should make sure that an appropriate asbestos survey is in place. A refurbishment and demolition survey is generally required in this scenario. Similarly, confirm that your contractors are trained in asbestos awareness before they step foot on site by thoroughly checking their method statements.

Survey results should be clearly communicated to contractors, highlighting asbestos hazards that could cause exposure if disturbed. Failure to do so could lead to people coming into contact with damaged asbestos – a critical safety breach that will almost certainly result in prosecution.

Further guidance from Opus

Talk to us in the planning stages of your refurbishment to ensure you and your contractors work in line with all relevant regulations. Book a call with an Opus Safety consultant for one-to-one answers and advice.