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A Guide on Conducting a Comprehensive CDM Risk Assessment

Ensure compliance with CDM regulations by conducting a comprehensive risk assessment checklist. The following questions will be answered in this article: What is a CDM risk assessment? How can I conduct one? And what requirements should I include in a checklist of my own?

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What Is CDM Risk Assessment?


CDM Risk Assessment is a documented evaluation of a workplace to see if it complies with the practical guidelines stated in the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations of 2015.


The CDM Regulations is a law in the United Kingdom (UK) that applies to all the processes involved in construction projects-from its conception (planning and designing) to its completion. For example, it contains guidelines regarding key elements on how to ensure workers’ health and safety on the construction site. The law also talks about how to select and appoint the right person or group to a key position like safety coordinator, contractors, and designers.


There are two types of CDM Risk Assessments: general and specific. A general risk assessment tackles the common hazards that workers are exposed to during the construction project. While a specific risk assessment deals with specific risks like noise, lead, and vibration which will be tackled later on in this article.


If an entity fails to fully comply with the CDM Regulations, penalties may range from fines up to £800,000 to being sentenced to eight months in prison. So, to ensure compliance and prevent the mentioned penalties, it is crucial to use an updated and easy-to-use CDM audit checklist.



In this article, the following points are explained:


1. A step-by-step guide to conducting a CDM risk assessment


2. What information a CDM checklist must contain


3. The advantages of a digital CDM checklist


Construction worker assessing the safety of the construction site

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How to Conduct a Comprehensive CDM Risk Assessment?


According to UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE), there are five steps involved when conducting a CDM risk assessment. Each step will ensure that the requirements are met when controlling the risks and aim to comply with guidelines.


Identify the Hazards


The first step in a CDM assessment is identifying the hazards in the workplace. This involves conducting a facility walkthrough to identify what elements can cause harm to workers.


While doing walkthroughs, carefully observe how people move and use equipment, current work practices, and workplace layout. Then think of all the possible scenarios that may cause accidents involving these factors and document them.


Then, check the company’s inventories for any hazardous materials or substances that are being stored and manually handled. Examples of these are asbestos, paints, lacquers, fumes, and dust.


It is also encouraged to interview workers to get their input regarding the safety of current work practices. This will provide insight into where you can instate corrective actions to prevent workplace injury and death.


Special considerations should also be given to vulnerable workers, like those with disabilities, health conditions, or pregnant women.


Assess the Risks


The second step in a CDM assessment is to assess the risks involved. This involves analyzing two factors, severity and probability, to create a hazard priority list.


When assessing the risks, it is recommended to use the following questions:


  • Who is at risk from the present hazards?
  • What are the current risk controls in place?
  • Do improvement need to be made to the current controls?
  • How urgent is each hazard and when should they be addressed?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) also provides help in this area. On their website, there is an available resource called HSE Risk Assessment Tool. This tool guides how to assess hazards and create a risk matrix based on severity and probability.


Control the Risks


After assessing the risks, it is now time to formulate and improve new and existing controls. During this step, the goal is to eliminate hazards as much as possible. And if it’s not possible, the second goal is to eliminate any consequential harm if an accident occurs.


There are many ways of accomplishing this; below, are some of them:


  • Replacement of materials, equipment, or processes that are the source of a hazard
  • Changing the work procedures to eliminate a hazardous work element
  • Optimization of work schedules and workflows to reduce exposure to hazardous materials or equipment
  • Strict implementation of personal protective equipment usage (PPE)
  • Setting up new work policies and guidelines that promote health and safety

Record the Findings


After performing a risk assessment and creating controls, the next step is to record and document the findings. There are five significant details that you should include:


  • Hazards
  • Affected Workers
  • Current Risk Controls
  • Control Improvements
  • Key Person Responsible for the Hazard
  • Target Completion Date
  • Actual Completion Date

The website of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provides a free template for this step. And there are also filled-out templates that can be used as references for various businesses like offices, food services, factories, and warehouses.


Review the Controls


Finally, the last step in a CDM risk assessment is reviewing the controls. This step involves continuously monitoring the newly created risk controls as well as the improved ones.


The reason for this is to make sure that the controls are working effectively. And if the controls that were put in place aren’t effective, then it is imperative to review the controls and make the necessary changes.


Reviewing the controls is also essential when addressing any changes in the workplace. For example, if you’ve introduced new work processes or made renovations that changed the overall layout of the workplace, then you should include these in your review.



What Are the Requirements in the CDM Checklist?


The CDM checklist contains all the necessary items to do from the beginning of the construction project to its end. This is an essential tool, especially when trying to comply with all the legal and practical requirements. Below are four categories of the listed items on the checklist.


Working Environment


These bulleted items ensure that safety is a construction site's number one priority. Below are some of the requirements:


  • Every area should have should be inspected for safety hazards
  • The workplace should be organized and has security measures in place
  • Structures should be stable and have a solid foundation
  • During demolitions and dismantling activities, warning measures are in place
  • Staff members should be trained in emergency procedures
  • The workplace should have fire protection plan in place and visible fire exits
  • All areas should have sufficient ventilation


First Aid and Welfare


These are items in the checklist which ensure that their is a first-aid kit on hand in case of an emergency. Below are some of the requirements:


  • A staff member trained in first aid should always be present in the workplace. Ideally, all staff members would attend a training course.
  • Emergency procedures should be in place so that a worker who needs medical treatment can be brought immediately to a hospital
  • The workplace is equipped with a first-aid facility that is complete with all first-aid tools and equipment

Mitigation of Specific Risks


These bulleted items address specific risks that are always present on construction sites. Below are some examples of these:


  • Loud noise and intense vibration
  • Falling objects
  • Working from high places
  • Usage of scaffoldings, ladders, and lifting equipment
  • Excavation activities
  • Activities in tunnels, wells, and underground areas
  • Demolition works

Management Arrangements


These bulleted items state all the duties of clients, health coordinators, project coordinators, designers, and contractors during the pre-construction and construction phase. The checklist also emphasizes that maintaining health and safety on the construction site is a collaborative effort of every party involved.


Legal documents that should be submitted are also found here. An example of this is the construction phase plan which should contain the contact information of all the parties involved, dates, hazards on site, and the risk controls that will be implemented during the construction phase.


Employee reviews constructions site safety with a digital CDM risk assessment

How Can a Digital CDM Risk Assessment Improve Efficiency?


Managing construction projects from beginning to end can be a logistical nightmare. Being responsible for the health and safety of all whom you employ? Now, that can be downright terrifying. Companies are liable for any accidents, injuries, or deaths that befall their workers at any point during the construction process. Conducting risk assessments is perhaps the most important part of the job because it ensures safety and protects the company’s reputation in the meantime. However, conducting inspections is made harder when you have to lug around a clipboard, paper, and pencil. Paper is susceptible to damage and can be blown around on a windy day, not to mention that handwriting can often be illegible.


With the Lumiform app, you can conduct inspection in the field on any mobile device - online or offline. A digital checklist also offers the following benefits:


  • A flexible form builder kit allows you to convert all your old paper checklists into digital ones within minutes with our easy-to-use software.
  • All results, images, and comments are automatically bundled into a digital report. If any safety hazards are identified on-site, the app with immediately notify your teammates so they can correct the problem.
  • Since the app creates charts and graphs for you, you no longer have to process the data on your own, saving you time.
  • Lumiform gives you complete oversight of the inspection process, alerting you to any missed or skipped inspections. This feature protects your brand from any reputational harm as a result.



Construction worker uses a power tool to cut wood


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