A recent article in IOSH Magazine (official publication of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health) sought to clarify which repair and maintenance jobs fall under the new Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015).

Legal interpretation suggests that the formal requirements of the regulations, for example construction phase plans, apply to most maintenance, cleaning and repair activities, which would present new challenges for many businesses.

There has been little official interpretation of the relevant clauses of CDM 2015; no ACoP (Approved Code of Practice) has been published and neither the general guidance document L153 nor industry sector guides expand on the definitions of “construction work” and “structures” which are key to determining what is covered by the regulations.
Almost a year after they came into force this has left many duty holders wondering which maintenance and repair work falls under CDM 2015.
The HSE was asked for clarification and provided the following general statement;

“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 of fixed plant which mainly involves mechanical adjustments, replacing parts or lubrication is unlikely to be construction work.”

The HSE said it had encouraged and supported industry bodies to draw up tighter definitions for their sectors where needed. The HSE’s Construction Division has also produced a Q&A briefing document to help inspectors interpret whether work falls under CDM 2015. A few scenarios were explored including;

  • Office Facilities Management – the HSE confirmed that activities such as pressure washing premises’ steps, fixed wiring inspections and the use of mechanical floor washers would not generally fall under CDM unless they were carried out in conjunction with construction work
  • Hotel maintenance – the HSE confirmed that activities including servicing a boiler or lifts, and odd jobs such as door, floor or carpet repairs would not generally fall under CDM for the same reasons
  • Landscaping – the HSE said that if landscaping activities formed the concluding stages of the build of a new structure they would be considered to be within the whole of the construction project and managed through CDM but if the activity was not related to building, civil engineering or engineering construction work, it would not fall under CDM

This interpretation is helpful but not completely obvious, given the wording of the regulations and the L153 guidance. However it must be remembered that it is not HSE’s role to provide a definitive interpretation – only a court can do that.