What is a Principal Designer?

There is a lot of confusion surrounding exactly what a Principal Designer is. It is something that we hear quite often at Safety Advisors since the change was made from CDM Coordinator to Principal Designer. So, What is a Principal Designer? Do they design? What does a principal designer do? Hopefully this blog will set the record straight & help you.

Who is a principal designer? A principal designer can be an organisation or individual who is appointed by the client (commercial or domestic) to take the lead in planning, managing and coordinating health & safety during the pre construction phase of a project. A principal designer does not have to carry out actual design work on the project.

Why is a principal designer so important? A principal designer has a vital role in how the risks to health and safety should be managed during a project. Design decisions taken during the pre-construction phase can have a significant effect on whether a project is delivered in a way that complies with health & safety. A principal designer will work closely with the principal contractor and the client and coordinate the work of others in the project team to ensure all significant and foreseeable risks are managed throughout the design process.

When should a principal designer be appointed? As early as possible, by the client.

What projects require a principal designer? A principal designer must be appointed by the client for a project if it involves, or is likely to involve, more than one contractor.

We have given guidance on what each duty holders responsibilities are under CDM 2015 in previous blogs. You can check out those related blogs here:



For more information from the HSE on the Principal Designer role and what their responsibilities are, go to:


If you require any further information on principal designers, or you require a principal designer for your project, contact us today on 01283 760802.

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