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Principal Contractor

What is a Principal Contractor?

A Principal Contractor under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 is the Contractor with control over the construction phase of a project involving more than one Contractor.

The Principal Contractor is an organisation appointed in writing by the client (commercial or domestic) to plan, manage, monitor and co-ordinate health and safety during the construction phase of a project.  This means working in close co-operation with the Client and the Principal Designer to ensure construction is carried out in a way that avoids harm to persons, property and reputation.

The role of the Principal Contractor involves:

  1. Consulting and engaging with workers
  2. Liaising with the Client and Principal Designer
  3. Ensuring anyone they appoint has the necessary skills, knowledge, and experience and, where they are an organisation, the organisational capability to carry out the work in a way that secures health and safety
  4. Co-ordinating the work of contractors
  5. Ensuring that the contractors under their control co-operate with each other
  6. Ensuring suitable site inductions are provided to all persons on site
  7. Ensuring reasonable steps are taken to prevent unauthorised access
  8. Ensuring that suitable welfare facilities are provided and maintained throughout the construction phase
  9. Before the construction site is set up, preparing the Construction Phase Plan for the project setting out health and safety arrangements and site rules
  10. Ensuring that the Construction Phase Plan is appropriately reviewed, updated and revised during the construction phase to adequately reflect the activities, risks and hazards on site
  11. Providing the Principal Designer with any information in the Principal Contractor’s possession relevant to the Health and Safety File
  12. If the Principal Designer’s appointment finishes before the end of the project, the Health and Safety File must be passed to the Principal Contractor for the remainder of the project. The Principal Contractor must then take on the responsibility for reviewing, updating and revising it and passing it to the Client when the Project finishes.


Where a client is a domestic client, the Principal Contractor must also carry out the duties of the client under the regulations, unless there is only one contractor (in which case the contractor must carry out their duties), or there is a written agreement that the Principal Designer will fulfil those duties.

When should a Principal Contractor be appointed?

The Principal Contractor should be appointed by the client as early in the project as possible and before the construction phase begins.  Planning is an essential part of managing a construction site and should start as early as possible to identify health and safety risks, control measures and resources needed to reduce or eliminate them.  This approach should take place for all phases of the construction work.  The Principal Contractor will also need to think about how they will monitor site health and safety standards and control measures so that they remain effective.

The Principal Contractor should be appointed as early as possible so that they can:

  • Allow time to plan the work of the construction phase and, in liaison with the Principal Designer and others involved in the project, identify any risks to health and safety and the control measures which need to be put in place
  • Record details of any planning in a Construction Phase Plan
  • Work with the Client for the duration of their appointment
  • Liaise with the Principal Designer for the remainder of their appointment for the purposes of planning, managing, monitoring and coordinating the pre-construction phase


The effort devoted to planning should be proportionate to the complexity of the project and the level of risks involved.

Can I appoint someone to undertake the Principal Contractor role on my behalf?

Yes, as the Principal Contractor for a project, you may not have the time, resourcing or competence to fully understand and comply with your duties under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015.

In such cases, it may be appropriate to appoint a CDM Advisor for your project.  Safe Track Associates Limited can assist you with this role and have successfully undertaken a varied range of appointments as CDM Advisor.  As CDM advisor, we would then ensure you stay compliant and undertake vital duties on your behalf with relation to paperwork and monitoring the arrangements throughout the project.  Please see our CDM Advisor page for more details or call us on 0117 908 3860 to discuss how we can assist you with your project.

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