Contractor Health & Safety: all the facts you need

Chances are, you’ve worked with a contractor at least once before. The official definition of a contractor is an individual or organisation that undertakes work on behalf of your business.

This could be because they have a specific skill set that you require to finish a particular project, for example construction or engineering. Or it could be to undertake work that needs to be undertaken regularly such as maintenance, repairs or cleaning.

As an employer, you know that you’re legally responsible for ensuring the Health & safety of your employees, visitors and members of the public in your workplace at all times. But what about contractors?

Who’s responsible for contractor Health & Safety?

Even though the contractors you work with are not your employees, you can’t pass all liability for the Health & Safety of their work to them and them alone. In any client-contractor relationship, both you and your contractor have a legal duty under law to ensure the Health & safety of your workplace when they’re carrying out their work.

It’s essential that everyone understands what part they have to play when it comes to making sure that Health & Safety remains a priority when you work with contractors. It’s good practice to include Health & Safety requirements in your contractor’s terms and conditions.

Remember…

Even if you regularly work with the same contractor, it’s a great idea to refresh their memory on the specific of Health & Safety on your site or workplace.

Selecting contractors

Thinking of working with a new contractor? Here are some useful questions and considerations to help you satisfy the competence of the people you choose to work with.

 

Define the job

What are the Health & Safety implications of the job? You should be able to provide potential contractors with information on the complexity of the work, so they understand what’s expected.

Assess the risks

Are contractors at risk of harm because of the work? What about other members of staff, or even members of the public? What can be done to control those risks?

Evaluate the competence of your contractor`

What’s the nature of the work you want your contractor to perform? It’s vital to establish their level of competence and make sure they can perform the job safely and without risk. Some questions to ask include:

  • What is their Health & Safety record like? Has the HSE ever acted against them?
  • Do they plan to use sub-contractors? Can they guarantee their sub- contractors’ competence?
  • Do they have a written Health & Safety policy?
  • Can they provide examples of their risk assessments and method statements?
  • What Health & Safety training do they provide for their workers?
  • Has a professional body independently assessed them?

The level of detail required will depend entirely on how complex the work they’ll be doing and what level of risk is involved.

Contractor insurance

Make sure you check if your contractor has insurance liability cover before they start working with you. Types of cover to look out for include:

  • Employers Liability insurance – this is a legal requirement for contractors and usually includes a minimum of £5million cover. This covers employers for claims made against them by employees arising from injury or disease.
  • Public Liability cover – this covers contractors against claims of damage or injury to the public or other businesses as a result of their work activities.

Managing contractors

The good news is that you’re in an ideal position to influence the safety of the work of your contractors.

The first real step to doing this is to give your contractors all the relevant information they need in advance of them starting work for you. This helps to minimise the risk of accidents and injuries from the very start.

The week before work begins, provide your contractors with:

  • A thorough description of your site and activities carried out there
  • A description of the work you need them to do
  • Site rules and safety procedures – this can include Personal Protective Equipment needed, permits to work, instructions, training and supervision
  • Potential hazards on site, such as underground services, asbestos, contaminated land, processes and equipment
  • Fire and emergency procedures
  • First aid arrangements and accident reporting procedures
  • Work restrictions – hours of work, noise, vibration issues etc.
  • Security.

Remember…

According to the Construction Design and Management Regulations (CDM), construction businesses who use contractors are legally required to provide all of the above information in what’s known as ‘pre-construction information’.

When a contractor joins you…

There are a few essential things worth covering when a contractor starts work with you.

Induction – it’s essential to perform a proper induction with your contractor. You need to inform them of any and all circumstances that may be unfamiliar to them, even if they’ve worked with you before. A good place to start is going through the information you provided them before they started.

Risk assessments and safe systems of work – contractors need to produce site and activity-specific risk assessments and methods statements for the work they will perform.

Supervision and monitoring – it’s worth noting that business owners can and have been prosecuted for not arranging adequate supervision for their contractors. Supervision and monitoring all come down to how well information is communicated and making sure everyone knows who is making the decisions and who is responsible for managing problems or emergencies.

Other things to consider when it comes to monitoring contractor work include:

  • Do you need to inspect work or equipment?
  • Should you report on work that’s been completed?
  • Have work areas been left in a safe condition?
  • Have waste materials and tools been removed when work is complete?

Managing contractor Health & Safety with the experts…

Have you still got questions about effectively managing contractor Health & Safety? Do you regularly use contractors, and could your processes and procedures do with a refresh?

Whatever your questions, whatever the industry, the experts at Citation are here to help empower you to manage your Health & Safety more efficiently and more effectively, all while keeping you, your people and your business safe and compliant.

Fancy a chat? Give one of our team a call today on 0345 844 1111 and they can let you know exactly how we can help.

Already a client of ours? Don’t forget, one of our expert consultants is at the end of the phone 24/7. Just drop them a line on 0345 844 4848.

 

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