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, monitoring and coordinating health and safety during the pre-construction phase (design and planning stage) of a project involving, or likely to involve, more than one contractor.
A principal designer is the person organisation with control over the pre-construction phase who has the relevant skills, knowledge and experience.
The principal designer does not have to carry out actual design work on the project.
The Duties of a Principal Designer include:
Plan, manage, monitor and coordinate health and safety in the pre-construction phase. In doing so they must take account of relevant information (such as an existing health and safety file) that might affect design work carried out both before and after the construction phase has started
Help and advise the client in bringing together pre-construction information, and provide the information designers and contractors need to carry out their duties
Work with any other designers on the project to eliminate foreseeable health and safety risks to anyone affected by the work and, where that is not possible, take steps to reduce or control those risks
Ensure that everyone involved in the pre-construction phase communicates and cooperates, coordinating their work wherever required
Liaise with the principal contractor, keeping them informed of any risks that need to be controlled during the construction phase
On a domestic client project where the domestic client does not appoint a principal designer, the role of the principal designer must be carried out by the designer in control of the pre-construction phase.
When working for a domestic client, the client duties will normally be taken on by another duty holder (often the principal contractor on projects involving more than one contractor). However, the principal designer can enter into a written agreement with the domestic client to take on the client duties in addition to their own.