- Give advice
- Require improvements to be made (including serving improvement notices)
- Stop any works in progress (by serving prohibition notices)
Ultimately the courts can impose sanctions for breaches of health and safety law and usually this involves levying fines.
The legislation and guidance associated with the management of contractors:
- The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974
- The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
- Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM)
- Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH)
- Associated guidance can be found in the HSE’s guidance document HSG159 and INDG368 (1)
Anyone employing contractors has health and safety responsibilities; both for the contractors and anyone else that could be affected by their activities. Contractors themselves also have legal health and safety responsibilities. Poor contractor management can lead to injuries, ill health, additional costs and delays. Working closely with contractors will reduce the risks to tenants and visitors etc.
Effective selection of health & safety competent contractors is at the core of good contractor management. Implementing a formal process is key to ensuring that this management obligation is met. To select a suitable contractor, you will need to be satisfied that the contractor chosen can do the job safely and without risks to health. This means making enquiries about the competence of the contractor – do they have the right combination of skills, experience and knowledge? The degree of competence required will depend on the work. Similarly, the level of enquiries you make should be determined by the level of health & safety risks involved and the complexity of the job.
Using contractors for maintenance, repairs, installation, construction, demolition and many other jobs may be fairly routine, however, many accidents involve contractors working on site. Sometimes you may have multiple contractors on site. Managers and their contractors need to think about how their activities may affect each other and how they interact with tenants and other persons on site. It is worth remembering that contractors also may be at particular risk – they may be strangers to the property and therefore unfamiliar with site procedures, hazards, risks and your organisations health & safety site rules. Even regular contractors may need reminding. The level of management and control needed will, of course, be proportionate to the complexity of the contractor’s task.
It is important to note that accidents happen more easily when contractors are employed without a formal management process in place, key issues are:
- The hazards of their job haven’t been identified and steps have not been taken to minimise risks
- No one is around to make sure the contractor follows health and safety rules on site
- Accidents with contractors can be caused by poor communication – when site staff and tenants/occupants don’t know there is a contractor working nearby and when contractors don’t know the dangers on site
What to do…
- Ensure that there is a formal process in place to approve/vet all contractors that may work at any site. This could be carried out by an external accreditation body such as Safe4site
- Ensure that any formal selection process includes regular reviews to check that contractor’s insurances and other documentation are current and kept up to date
- Ensure that there is formal management process in place to monitor contractor activity such as regular inspection visits to check the contractors are meeting with their Health & Safety obligations while working on site
- Ensure that the selected approved/vetted contractor provides all required documentation prior to the commencement of works such as Risk Assessments and Method Statements etc.
- Ensure that approved/vetted contractors are given clear instructions of the Site Safety Rules while working on site- including clear instructions for communication and Permit to Work requirements etc.
- Ensure that contractors are provided with full and clear information of the works required and of any other site specific conditions such as access, existence of any harmful material (e.g. Asbestos), tenant/occupant-specific information that may affect the works such as movement of disabled people, children, pregnant women etc.
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