If you have a responsibility for managing contractors effectively at pre-construction stages, you must ensure that they can do their job safely and without risk to their own health and safety, or others affected by their works.

So what is a contractor? The Health and Safety Executive defines a contractor as “A contractor is an organisation or individual who directly employs or engages construction workers or as part of their business carries out, manages or controls construction work (e.g., building, altering, maintaining or demolishing). Contractors include sub-contractors, any individual, sole trader or self-employed worker.”

The degree of competence (skills, knowledge, attributes, training and experience) needed will depend on the work activity. Thus the levels of assessment you make of their competence should be determined by the risk/complexity of the job.

Some examples of what could be asked to assess contractor competence:

  • Details of contractor’s organisation structure and CVs of key personnel.
  • Relevant training qualifications.
  • Relevant plant and machinery inventories and inspection records.
  • Details of recent similar projects, indicating their brief scope of work, the client’s details, value of work, contractual duration, safety appreciation or compliance certification, HSE statistics.
  • Details of project planning and execution methodology.
  • Details of their health and safety policy, environmental policy, quality management and procedures (e.g., lone working, asbestos, working at height).
  • Details of quality assurance and quality control practices currently in place for the execution of similar work.
  • Details of insurances, such as employer’s liability and public liability.
  • Details of managing and monitoring subcontractor performance.
  • Copies of ISO 9001, 14001, OHSAS 18001 and any other accreditations if necessary.

Contractors provide the foundations to your business, and without them, the project cannot be completed. Ensure that they are managed effectively to avoid instances like injuries, ill-health, production costs and build delays.
Further guidance on managing contractors can be found in HSG159 ‘Managing Contractors: A guide for employers’.

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