The revised Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM 2015) came into effect on the 6th April. The key changes have been well publicised, and the HSE has now provided FAME with clarity regarding their exemption for ‘pre-construction archaeological investigations’.

The exemption means that archaeological investigation is not ‘construction work’ within the defined meaning, and is therefore not subject to the CDM regulations when undertaken as a stand-alone element prior to the construction phase of a construction project.  Therefore, pre-construction archaeological investigations are not construction activities and do not initiate the construction phase of a project

However, archaeological investigations or activities that are undertaken during the construction phase of a project will be governed by the requirements of CDM – but archaeologists and their activities will be considered to be specialist contractors and will therefore comply with the directions of the PC and PD and take responsibility for the planning, management and monitoring of their own work – as any other contractor working in the construction phase of the project.

The exemption has been included to ensure that archaeologists are not inadvertently burdened with the role of Principal Contractor for a project, just because they are often the first ‘contractor’ on a future site.  The role of Principal Contractor can only be assumed by a person or organization that has the skills, knowledge and experience required to fulfil the Principal Contractor duties across the whole project, from concept design, through build and ultimate handover of the new structure.

The HSE have advised that the exemption is not to be seen as a diminution of the requirement for archaeologists to plan, manage, monitor and undertake their work safely. Even where the CDM exemption applies to archeology – all requirements of general workplace health and safety requirements including the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and subsequent legislation i.e. the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, fully apply as they always have.

Russell Adfield, HM Principal Inspector, Head of CDM Unit – Construction Sector, Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Construction Division – South East, The Council Offices, Station Road East, Oxted

Surrey RH8 0BT

Issued by Dan Poore on behalf of FAME

FAME CDM advice note April 2015