Role of the Principal Designer

What is a Principal Designer?

A Principal Designer is an individual or an organisation who is appointed by the client to take the lead in planning, managing, monitoring and coordinating health and safety during the pre-construction phase of any project which involves more than one contractor.

The Principal Designer has an important role in influencing how risks to health and safety are managed thought the project and especially during the pre-construction phase.

During the pre-construction phase important design decisions are made which have a significant influence in ensuring that a project is delivered in a way that secures the health and safety of everyone affected by the works. They are not expected to carry out any actual design works on a project but they are required to have the skills, knowledge and experience for the role, they need to have a close relationship with the client and the main contractor to ensure that significant and foreseeable risks are managed throughout the design process.

A Principal Designer must be appointed in writing and as early as possible by the client in the design process and where possible at the concept stage of the project. The appointment of the role should be in place for as long as there is a need for their role to be performed. This needs to take into account any design work which may continue into the construction phase and cover any issues that may arise during construction which requires the need to make suitable design modifications.

What is required to be a Principal Designer?

As mentioned above, they must be able to demonstrate they have the health and safety skills, knowledge and experience and where they are an organisation, the organisation must have the capability to carry out the work they are being appointed for. The levels of skill, knowledge and experience should be proportionate to the complexity of the project and the range and nature of the risks involved with the particular project. Prior to appointment evidence is required to demonstrate they have the technical knowledge of the construction industry relevant to the project, past experience of similar projects should be provided. They need to have the ability to understand, manage and coordinate the pre-construction phase including identifying significant and foreseeable risks ensuring they are managed throughout the design process.

Appointing a Principal Designer

When appointing a Principal Designer examples should be requested to demonstrate that they have the skills, knowledge and experience, this can be by records of continued professional development and membership of professional institutions or bodies. If you do not have the skills, knowledge and experience including proof of these to be able to undertake the role of principal designer ensure that you or your client appoints someone who has.

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