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Principal Designer

Design decisions made during the pre-construction phase significantly influence the health and safety of everyone affected by the work. CDM 2015 requires the Client to appoint a Principal Designer and Principal Contractor where there is, or is likely to be, more than one contractor working on a project. The Principal Designer (which may be an organisation or individual for smaller projects) therefore takes control of the pre-construction phase of any project involving more than one contractor.

Principal Designers have an important role in influencing health and safety risk management during the project and must:

  • Plan, manage, monitor and coordinate health and safety in the pre-construction phase.
  • Help and advise the client to collate pre-construction information, and provide the information designers and contractors need to carry out their duties.
  • Collaborate with other designers on the project to eliminate or reduce and control residual health and safety risks to anyone affected by the work.
  • Ensure that everyone involved in the pre-construction phase communicates, cooperates and coordinates with other key stakeholders.
  • Liaise with the Principal Contractor, keeping them informed of any risks that need to be controlled during the construction phase.

The Principal Designer role comes with very specific duties, liabilities and expectations of relevant experience. Not all designers are comfortable taking on the broader duties and responsibilities, the team at Santia are qualified to act as Principal Designer. This allows the designers to concentrate on design excellence whilst Santia works with you to manage the health and safety aspects of the design.

As the Principal Designer appointed to your project, we will undertake a number of activities to fulfil our role and help you discharge your duties effectively. To that end, we will:

  • Develop your initial brief
  • Plan, manage and monitor the co-ordination of the pre-construction phase
  • Identify, obtain and collate the pre-construction information
  • Provide pre-construction information to designers, Principal Contractor and contractors
  • Co-ordinate significant health and safety issues through to resolution with the design team
  • Ensure that designers comply with the duties assigned to them under CDM 2015 and co-operate with each other
  • Attend design review meetings
  • Liaise with the Principal Contractor for the duration of our appointment
  • Support the Principal Contractor to seek and obtain responses to health and safety queries from designers
  • Provide progress updates and keep you appraised of potential health and safety issues
  • Agree a format and compile the statutory health and safety file for formal handover at project completion


In addition to our current CDM 2015 statutory duties as Principal Designer, we also:

  • Provide a dedicated CDM consultant for each project, providing consistency and continuity for the duration of the project
  • Ensure any RIDDOR investigations and reporting are carried out appropriately, or intervene to ensure RIDDOR compliance where necessary to protect the Clients’ interests
  • Undertake on-site CDM compliance inspections and report to the Client
  • Provide telephone support to Clients with regards to CDM 2015 and construction health and safety matters.

Even if Santia is not appointed as Principal Designer, we can still offer our experience, insight and assistance as CDM Advisor to your Principal Designer, helping you discharge your Client duties effectively.

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