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Contractor Safety

Home » Contractor Safety

Health and Safety when Using Contractors

What is a contractor/subcontractor?

A contractor is a company or individual with a formal contract to do a specific job for a client, supplying labour and materials and providing and overseeing staff if needed. A contractor may then engage other firms to assist with elements of the contract, these firms or individuals are regarded as sub-contractors.

What can be done to select competent contractors?

Companies need to ensure that the contractors they engage have the skills and knowledge to carry out the contract to the required standards without risks to health and safety. Examples for assessing whether a contractor is competent includes:

  • Evidence of experience in the same type of work
  • References from previous clients which are checkable
  • Accident ill health statistics
  • Qualifications, skills and ongoing training programs including health and safety training
  • How they will do the work i.e. Risk Assessments and Method Statements
  • Criteria for selecting sub-contractors
  • The selection of sub-contractors is more often left to the contractor, the same assessment criteria as above can be applied.

Who is affected/most at risk from contractors?

Almost all organisations will use contractors at some time. This can range from office cleaning, machinery repair or security services up to a major construction or refurbishing project. Contractors often work in unknown environments which can cause potential hazards for themselves or their client’s employees.

Companies who engage contractors and sub-contractors have a responsibility under health and safety law to protect them from harm caused by company work activities. Similarly, contractors and sub-contractors must cooperate with the client and each other to ensure they don’t do anything that puts themselves or others at risk.

What does the law say?

All employers have statutory and common-law obligations in relation to the health and safety of their employees and premises. There are elements of the following legislation that apply to the use of contractors:

  • Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
  • The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 – of particular importance in any client/contractor relationship.
  • Clients and contractors also have legal responsibilities under health and safety regulations dealing with special hazards e.g. the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1999, the Control of Lead at Work Regulations 1998 and the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002, the new Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007

Good Practice

  • Provide the project specifications and requirements to contractors before they tender, this will help them decide if they can do the job.
  • Ensure competent contractors are engaged by using selection criteria.
  • Assess any risks to contractors and employees prior to and during the activity,
  • Inform contractors of day-to-day company work hazards, including special requirements e.g. permit to work systems, hot work. Emergency procedures, site rules and welfare facilities should be explained.
  • Work should be coordinated and controlled, with all parties aware of their responsibilities.
  • Communication with all parties on a regular basis during the contract period should be maintained. This ensures current information on activities is imparted.
  • Company employees should be made aware of hazards created by contract activity.
  • Health and Safety performance should be monitored. All injuries, near misses and cases of ill health should be investigated.
  • Maintain records of the activity.
  • When the contract ends, review the activity with all parties, discuss what went well and what areas could have been improved.
  • Decide if the contractors should go on an approved list for future contracts.

More information on the use of contractors

Free HSE Leaflets:

70-410 MB2-703 200-120 70-461 C_TADM51_731 350-001 70-411 MB2-700 050-SEPROAUTH-02 400-101 MB2-702 070-410 70-462 EX300 070-461 070-462 VCP-550 70-243 70-480 C_TAW12_731 JN0-102 70-483 70-488 700-505 70-347 070-347 070-411 70-486 MB2-701 070-346 100-101 70-346 70-463 700-501 70-412 3001 3107 070-178 070-342 070-415 070-416 070-460 070-667 070-684 101-01 1D0-610 1Z0-027 1Z0-058 1Z0-117 1Z0-474 1Z0-507 1Z0-511 1Z0-516 1Z0-521 1Z0-804 1Z0-805 1Z1-060 200-120 Certification 350-050 500-201 642-997 700-038 70-415 70-492 70-496 77-885 C_HANAIMP131 C_TFIN52_65 C_THR12_65 C_TSCM62_65 C2050-723 C2090-612 C2160-669 C2180-273 C2180-400 C4040-332 C4060-156 C4090-451 CCA-410 CLO-001 CPCM CSM-001 CSSGB FCBA FCNSA.v5 HP0-Y43 OA0-002 P2080-034 P2090-032 70-410 MB2-703 200-120 70-461 C_TADM51_731 350-001 70-411 MB2-700 050-SEPROAUTH-02 400-101 MB2-702 070-410 70-462 EX300 070-461 070-462 VCP-550 70-243 70-480 C_TAW12_731 JN0-102 70-483 70-488 700-505 70-347 070-347 070-411 70-486 MB2-701 070-346 100-101 70-346 70-463 700-501 70-412 300-209 642-902 70-246 98-364 C_HANASUP_1 C2020-622 C4090-450 CISSP M2020-615 NS0-156 070-458 070-688 117-101 1Z0-899 250-310 300-206 642-813 70-178 70-686 98-349 BH0-013 C_GRCAC_10 C_TAW12_70 C_TB1200_88 C2040-406 C4040-224 M70-201 N10-005 NS0-145 PMI-001 070-177 070-336 070-337 070-457 070-464 070-672 070-680 1Y0-A20 1Z0-897 70-413 A00-211 C_FSUTIL_60 C_TPLM30_65 C2030-280 C2090-614 C2180-275 C4040-122 C4060-155 JN0-343 MB6-871 OG0-092 PRINCE2 PRINCE2 Practitioner SK0-003 VCP5-DCV 000-571 050-720 070-685 074-338 1Y0-400 200-101