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Principal Designer's Handbook

The new CDM regulations came into force on 6 April 2015 changing the face of pre-construction health and safety management on construction projects, large and small. This Handbook has been specifically written to provide straightforward, practical and easy-to-read guidance to anyone undertaking the new principal designer role. It is primarily aimed towards the needs of the sole practitioner or small/medium sized practices who offer principal designer services, either as a stand-alone service or in addition to other design services. 

The Handbook is a quick, first point of reference for both new principal designers and experienced design risk practitioners and will help the industry achieve a proportionate response to health and safety design risk management in the pre-construction phase by helping those who have sufficient health and safety skill, knowledge and experience to carry out the principal designer role, where they feel confident to do so.

The Principal Designer's Handbook covers:

  • The Principal Designer role – provides an overview of the role; details the key responsibilities; and outlines how they differ on commercial and domestic projects. 
  • The Principal Designer in practice – includes details on fees and appointments; pre-construction information; design risk management; and how to prepare a health and safety file.
  • Liaison with the Principal Contractor – includes details of the construction phase plan; the continuing liaison required during the construction phase; and guidance on the defects liability period.
  • Standard and exemplar documents – includes fees and appointment worked examples; examples of a health and safety file; and other useful templates.
  • The key CDM roles – outlines the key roles and responsibilities for the Client, Designer, Principal Contractor, Contractors, Workers and CDM Advisor.

The Handbook draws from the knowledge, skill and experience of the Association for Project Safety and its members. 

Buy the Principal Designer's Handbook paper version

A paper-copy version of the Handbook is now available to buy in the APS shop (£25). 

Please click view to purchase.

Supporting example documents and templates

These are referred to in the text of the paper and the digital version of the Handbook. 


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