Construction (Design & Management) Regulations for churches

01 May 2015

Maintenance, refurbishment and restoration work is common at many places of worship. Because of this, where such work is carried out for you, it may be necessary to meet certain legal duties under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM).

What is CDM?

CDM is intended to protect the health and safety of those carrying out the work and others who may be affected by it (e.g. members of the public). 

Who is a ‘client’?

Under the regulations, a client is someone for whom construction work is carried out. This would include:

  • Planning
  • Design
  • Management
Or other work associated with it until that work is complete.  

Construction work

The meaning of construction work is very comprehensive and can include the alteration, renovation, repair, upkeep, redecoration, or other maintenance of a structure (including a church).
Many clients are not experts in carrying out construction work and you are not expected to actively manage or supervise the work yourself. 
However, the decisions you make can influence how it is carried out. This in turn can affect the health, safety or welfare of those involved in it. For example, you decide which designer and contractor will carry out the work and how much money, time and resource is available to complete it.

What do ‘clients’ need to do?

Where CDM applies, clients are required to:
  • Appoint a principal designer and a principal contractor – if there will be more than one contractor working on the project at any time. These appointments need to be in writing and made in a timely fashion before the work starts.
  • Take reasonable steps to ensure that any designer or contractor they appoint has the skills, knowledge, experience and capability necessary to fulfil their duties.
  • Ensure that adequate arrangements are in place (including the allocation of sufficient time and other resources) – for managing and organising any health and safety precautions including the provision of any necessary welfare facilities.  These arrangements should be maintained and reviewed throughout the project.
  • Provide appropriate information to the designer and contractor – which could include information about what is to be built, the site and existing structures or hazards that may be present (e.g. asbestos, overhead cables, and buried services).
  • Notify the Health and Safety Executive of certain construction work – as soon as possible before the work starts. Work lasting longer than 30 days with more than 20 workers working at the same time, or involving 500 person days of work is notifiable. You may ask someone else to do this for you, but it is important to check that they have done so.
  • Ensure that an adequate construction phase plan is drawn up – by the principal contractor (or contractor if there is only one) before the construction work starts. This plan should explain how health and safety risks will be managed during the work.
  • Take reasonable steps to ensure that the principal designer and the principal contractor carry out their duties.
  • Ensure that a health and safety file is prepared – by the principal designer. This needs to meet certain requirements and should be handed to you on completion of the work. It should contain relevant information which will help you manage any health and safety risks during future construction work. You should keep the file, make it available to anyone who needs to alter or maintain the building, and update it if circumstances change. 


Every year there are numerous fires on construction sites and in buildings undergoing refurbishment, many caused by 'hot works' such as, welding, grinding, the use of open flames or the application of heat.

When hot works are present certain procedures must be followed and we’ll need your contractor to complete a hot works permit.

We have specific requirements before we can provide cover and normally theft of external metal is not covered while scaffolding is erected.

However, in some circumstances, we may be able to provide cover subject to you being able to meet certain security conditions.

Ask your architect to complete our scaffolding checklist. Our theft of metal page has information on how to reduce the risk of metal theft at your church.

Often, for small works such as painting and decorating church volunteers may be helping.
As with any users of your premises you have a responsibility for ensuring that they are kept safe.
Take a look at our responsibility for people on church premises page for a summary of what you need to consider.

We do not consider a church undergoing building works as being unoccupied.

However, if there is a period of un-occupancy prior to commencement or following completion of the contract works, contact us on 0345 777 3322 as soon as possible as it may be necessary for us to amend your cover.

If the works are scheduled to overrun the original anticipated completion date, contact us in case we need to extend your cover on 0345 777 3322.

Depending on the revised anticipated completion date, an additional premium may be required.

Where the contract works include capital additions for example an extension, contact us to review your buildings sum insured.

In the case of church halls, your architect may be able to advise an appropriate adjustment to the buildings sum insured.