The Definition Of Construction Work Under CDM 2015

If you work in construction, you have probably heard of the CDM Regulations. Because the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM 2015) apply to all construction projects. But what exactly is construction work? Let’s look at the definition of construction work under CDM.

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM) applies to all construction work. But the definition of construction work covers more than you might think under CDM. Building a house? Yes. But what about painting a wall, digging a hole, or fitting some windows?

Let’s take a look.

You might expect CDM to cover a big extension or refurbishment project. But what about installing a new service, or carrying out maintenance on your heating? Replacing parts or giving your office a new lick of paint? The definition of construction work under CDM 2015 is far-reaching. If you work in construction or engage with contractors, chances are, anything you do will attract the CDM regulations.

It’s important to be aware that CDM applies to construction work, and not just construction projects. It doesn’t matter how short or small the work carried out is. If it involves one person or one hundred. If it’s classed as construction work, CDM applies.

For details on what exactly is classed as construction work under CDM, we can take a look in the regulations themselves, useful! The definition is split into 5 sections, so there’s quite a bit to cover. Let’s start with section a) below.

‘construction work’ means the carrying out of any building, civil engineering or engineering construction work and includes—

  1. the construction, alteration, conversion, fitting out, commissioning, renovation, repair, upkeep, redecoration or other maintenance (including cleaning which involves the use of water or an abrasive at high pressure, or the use of corrosive or toxic substances), de-commissioning, demolition or dismantling of a structure;
The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 Interpretation
The first part is fairly obvious, construction, alterations, repair, demolition. Yes, we would expect CDM to apply here. And cleaning?! Yes, while you might not see cleaning as construction work, cleaning with high-pressure water or toxic substances is also covered under the definition of construction work in CDM 2015.

Redecoration, repairs, upkeep and other maintenance jobs are also classed as construction work where CDM applies.


  1. the preparation for an intended structure, including site clearance, exploration, investigation (but not site survey) and excavation (but not pre-construction archaeological investigations), and the clearance or preparation of the site or structure for use or occupation at its conclusion;
The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 Interpretation
It’s not just the work on a structure that attracts the CDM regulations, but also the preparation for that work. Clearing the site, excavating for services, all the things you might do to prepare a site ready to build. CDM 2015 applies here too.

  1. the assembly on site of prefabricated elements to form a structure or the disassembly on site of the prefabricated elements which, immediately before such disassembly, formed a structure;
The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 Interpretation
Considering that a structure covers anything from a building to pipework, earthworks and scaffolding, the assembly of any elements to form a structure of any kind is classed as construction work. And also the disassembly. Prefabrication of elements in construction is becoming increasingly popular due to the speed and cost (and often safety) benefits, but it’s still important to apply CDM to this type of work.

  1. the removal of a structure, or of any product or waste resulting from demolition or dismantling of a structure, or from disassembly of prefabricated elements which immediately before such disassembly formed such a structure;
The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 Interpretation
So the removal of a structure and also the removal of any waste from the demolition of a structure falls under the definition of construction work. You might think there is some repetition here regarding disassembly, but where section c) covered disassembly of the prefabricated elements, section d) covers the removal once disassembled.
  1. the installation, commissioning, maintenance, repair or removal of mechanical, electrical, gas, compressed air, hydraulic, telecommunications, computer or similar services which are normally fixed within or to a structure.
The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 Interpretation

Ok, so electricians and plumbers should be well aware of CDM. And when working a construction site, expect to apply CDM to their work. But CDM should also be applied when carrying out repair and maintenance work to those systems. Even if it’s a short or small amount of work. CDM applies no matter the size or duration. And those installing computer and telephone systems should also be aware that their work is defined as construction work in CDM 2015

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