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.
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:
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.
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:
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