Managing Contractors

When it comes to managing contractors, there are shared responsibilities for ensuring the health and safety of client and contractor workforces and anyone else affected by the work. If not correctly managed, accidents are likely.

Planning and coordination of contracted work

A contractor’s employees may possibly be at a greater risk than the client’s employees whilst working on the client’s site due to:

  • unfamiliarity with the client’s site
  • unfamiliarity with the client’s site rules and procedures
  • often contractors are used for high-risk activities
  • lack of appropriate training
  • poor supervision

Health and safety requirements should be written into the work contract, clearly defining each party’s responsibilities.

Pre-selection and ongoing management of contractors

Examples of questions a client could ask potential contractors include:

  • What arrangements will you have for managing the work? For example, who will be responsible, how will the work be supervised, and what checks do you make on equipment and materials?
  • Will you use subcontractors, and how will you check they are competent? The level of competence for subcontractors will depend on the work’s risk and complexity.
  • What is your current health and safety performance? For example, how many accidents and cases of ill health have you had? Has HSE taken any action taken against you?
  • Do you have a written health and safety policy? (This is only a requirement if five or more people are employed.)
  • Can you provide existing risk assessments done for similar jobs? Again, written risk assessments are only required by law if five or more people are employed.
  • What qualifications, skills, and experience do you have in this work?
  • What health and safety information and training do you provide for your workers?
  • If required, do you have Employers’ Liability Compulsory Insurance?

The HSE advocates a five-step approach on how to manage contractors and ensure safe working. We’ll cover these in the next post.