CDM: Who Protects the Lighting Designer?

We all need to know our legal position.

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Health and safety is as much a part of the design process for the lighting industry as, say, an architectural lighting layout, but whereas the necessity for a drawing is taken as a given, CDM is not always understood, nor given the attention that it requires.  

Here is an example, one of which I am sure is familiar and could be replicated across the industry. I once worked on a project for an emergency lighting scheme (the client was one of the world’s largest companies), where I needed some pre-design information. My colleague quoted the duties of the principal designer, including his requirement to give this information to us.

The response to my colleague was that (and I paraphrase) ‘you are big in your industry but in the greater scheme of things you are tiny. We are massive and don’t have the time, nor the will, to give you that information. If you don’t like it we will just go to another company who will do the work without it‘. Which makes things a little bit sticky, to say the least.

Working under the comfort blanket of a large manufacturer with their legal teams, you may still not be immune to prosecution, even if you assume that you’re more protected due to the sheer scale of the organisation. But as a freelance designer or a small practice (which the majority of lighting design companies are) where do we stand ?

I spoke to David Raymond, managing director of Embark Consulting, a company that supports business, to ensure the Health, Safety and Welfare of every worker, and who provides advice for legal compliance on Health and Safety as well as CDM.

The video is a must see for any manufacturer, freelance designer or consultant carrying out any form of lighting design because, without a doubt, it concerns you. Key, as you will see in the podcast, is in the first design stages where we must all look to identify and eliminate hazards and produce a thorough risk assessment. Also, do not be afraid to ask for information that you are entitled to and be sure to document everything. For freelancers, make it crystal clear what your competencies are, it may just save you and your team’s bacon.

Liabilities are not just at point-of-install or point-of-design, it goes much further. You could find yourself holding that liability for many years to come.

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