How do I design and build safely for productions?

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1. Why is safe design so important?

The BBC prides itself on its production values and every production strives to deliver the very best it can. People are key to achieving this, and designing sets and structures so they can be built and used safely is essential to protect those who work for us.

Activities such as erecting a stage for an event, building a lighting rig, erecting camera platforms for an outside broadcast, assembling scenery or building a small set all have an element of design and construction. There are legal requirements the BBC and suppliers must follow.

These activities all fall under the Construction Design and Management Regulations (CDM) which are intended to ensure that activities from design and build through to use and de-rig are all managed and completed safely. All productions with an element of construction activity must comply with these regulations. In practice CDM is intended to generate coordination and communication to ensure safety, not create unnecessary paperwork.

2. How does CDM apply to me?

This short video will help you understand how CDM impacts you, regardless of your job role.

3. What do I need to do?

The more risk a project or production carries, the greater the effort required in terms of planning and resource allocation. This interactive graphic will help you understand how CDM is managed in different situations.

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4. Who are the duty holders?

The regulations identify specific 'duty holders' who are responsible for different elements of the construction work. Click on each to learn more.


Organisations or individuals for whom a construction project is carried out that is done as part of a business.

The duty holder?


The client should engage competent people to deliver the project and ensure communication with them. In many cases the BBC will take on other CDM roles.


Organisations or individuals who, as part of a business, prepare or modify designs for a building, product or system relating to construction work.

The duty holder?

BBC or contractor

Designers must ensure safety is included from the build, user perspective and de-rig. They provide relevant information to others involved in the project.


Those who carry out the actual construction work. Contractors can be an individual or a company.

The duty holder?

BBC or contractor

A contractor should work with the designer to ensure the project is built in a safe manner. They coordinate and cooperate with others involved in the project.

5. What's needed to plan a production?

If your production contains any construction work you will receive a more specific briefing on CDM and your particular project from the local safety adviser.

If construction work is expected to last longer than 30 working days AND have more than 20 workers working at the same time at any point on the project, OR if it exceeds 500 person days on site, you will also need to notify the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

What to keep in mind

If you have a production coming up, no matter how big or small, these key points will help:

  • CDM responsibilities should be considered wherever there is a set or something is constructed or modified
  • Safety should be considered at the design stage and run throughout the build, use and de-rig
  • The BBC can take on all roles, rather than just that of the client
  • The approach and amount of paperwork should always be proportional to the task
  • Remember communication is key, so all parties know what is happening and how they interact with each other


This is just a simple guide to provide a basic insight. For further information and detailed support on your BBC production or event contact BBC Safety.