From 6th April 2015 the latest version of the Construction Design Management (CDM) Regulations came into force, replacing CDM 2007.  The new regulations apply to a far wider range of projects than previously, and with the demise of the CDM co-ordinator role, the onus is now firmly placed on the principal designer to take responsibility for health and safety issues from the earliest design stage.

Principal designers need to be appointed where more than one contractor is involved, and should maintain an overview of health and safety throughout the project. A far greater number of smaller projects will now fall under the requirements, and it will be essential to identify who is taking on the role of Principal Designer from an early stage.

A crucial part of this role is to identify and eliminate foreseeable risks so, as well as complying with the myriad other mandates such as thermal and fire performance, structural strength and aesthetics, designers must also consider issues such as logistics, materials handling issues, working at height and long term maintenance.

Employing building methods and materials that are able to fulfil or assist with these different requirements will make the role of principal designers and contractors much more straightforward, and insulated panel systems can do just that.

They offer excellent levels of energy efficiency, durability and fire performance, together with a wide range of colours and different profiles to create aesthetically pleasing, high performing, and readily compliant building envelopes. However, it is the way in which they can be installed that is of real benefit in terms of CDM 2015.

Installing insulated panels on a roof creates a safe, walkable, progressive working platform as each panel is securely fixed, eliminating the need to install a fragile liner and build up from there.

The single component system also allows fast track installation – for example, a 3,000m2 roof can be installed in a single day.  The single fix installation minimises the amount of time spent working at height, reducing the risk.  It also makes project planning and management more predictable, and is less labour intensive, so there are potentially considerable cost savings to be made as an added benefit.

With the increasing demands of the Building Regulations covering the energy performance of buildings, thicker and thicker panels are needed to meet the requirements.  Meanwhile, panels are increasingly being made longer and wider in order to further speed up the construction process.

This has seen a significant rise in the use of mechanical handling machinery such as scissor lifts with cladding arms and vacuum lifting devices, with the ability to fix up to ten panels every hour. In turn, this means that panels can be installed very efficiently, minimising risk by further reducing the time spent at height and the number of workers needed.

An assessment of which equipment is appropriate for the site; the proper planning of the loads and deliveries; site storage and clear access are all important aspects of the safe and successful use of mechanical handling equipment. To ensure compliance with CDM regulations, propriety hand rail type systems, walkway stagings and safety nets should also be used.

EPIC will shortly be publishing a guidance paper on Mechanical Handling, meanwhile for more information on this topic, please visit the mechanical handling page on the EPIC site .