Prin-D targets firms acting as Principal Designer under the UK’s Construction Design and Management (CDM) health and safety regulations.
Via a blog post by Imanuel Steele on the IET website (Tackling record-keeping challenges in the construction industry with technology), I learned about Prin-D, a Manchester, UK-based startup established in 2017 that has developed a ‘CDM2015 digital compliance platform’.
Prin-D: a CDE for CDM
It is described as “a client-led Common Data Environment (CDE) which assures compliance with Construction Design and Management (CDM) regulations throughout an asset lifecycle.” The solution enables the management of health and safety documentation as a built asset progresses through the design, construction, occupation, and refurbishment phases of its lifecycle.
The UK’s Construction Design and Management (CDM) regulations were updated in 2015 to introduce the role of the Principal Designer as a new CDM duty-holder. The Principal Designer is legally appointed to manage health and safety risks and compliance with the CDM regulations. And new responsibilities may follow – the current post-Grenfell “Building a Safer Future” (BSF) review may lead to changes, some potentially relating to “The Golden Thread of Building Information”.
“A technology built for the role of Principal Designer”
Steele, formerly a project manager at Mace Group, identified that 40% of architectural practices are not offering Principal Designer CDM services. In his view, this was partly due to a lack of understanding about the role, but also the absence of tools or standard methodologies to support the role. He argues:
“What is needed is a technology built for the role of Principal Designer. This system should provide a template for any competent designer to provide the role of Principal Designer on their projects through guided processes. An extremely useful feature would be to give project members the information they need and prompt them to provide information in the correct format. This tool would then act as a single location where documents can be stored, viewed, signed off, and recovered by anyone who needs them.”
The Prin-D platform was developed to meet this need, guiding everyone in a project team to the documents and information they need to perform their role under CDM while storing the information securely and with permission access. “The platform has the ability to verify document versions, individual competencies, and signatures many years after a project is completed through the use of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), better known as Blockchain.”
An Extranet Evolution view
This is not the first solution to tackle such a requirement. Back in the early 2000s, BIW Technologies (later Conject and now part of Aconex)* developed functionality to manage progressive production of the project health and safety file and all its constituent parts. Previously, compilation of this resource tended to be assembled retrospectively as a laborious, paper-intensive end-of-project chore. However, by enabling relevant documents to be electronically ‘tagged’ as elements of the file as they were shared during design and construction, much of the finished file (now a digital deliverable) would be ready as completion and handover approached. While they may not offer a block-chain enabled audit facility, most of the UK-active project extranet/CDE vendors (eg: Asite, GroupBC, Viewpoint, etc) today offer a similar functionality.
Extranet Evolution has also covered various other vendors also working on health and safety-related point solutions:
- In 2011, for example, UK-based Darley PCM launched a CDM health and safety documentation service; the company has since rebranded as HASpod, and in 2017 it launched hasTalk, a health and safety training toolset.
- In 2014, EE talked to HandS HQ, a London-based startup that aimed to streamline subcontractors’ completion of risk assessment/method statement (RAMS) documentation.
- London-based CreateMaster‘s O&M platform also manages Health & Safety Files (October 2016).
- Finland-based Congrid entered the UK market with a mobile quality and safety measurement app in May 2019.
- EE has also covered overseas vendors offering health and safety functionality, including Australia’s WiseWorking (August 2018), HammerTech (April 2019), and SafetyCulture (July 2019), and Singapore’s Novade (May 2020).
(* Disclosure: Paul Wilkinson worked for BIW Technologies from 2000 to 2009.)