Managing contractors is a health a safety responsibility that a number of employers do not take as seriously as they should. Failures to take into account the health and safety arrangements of hired contractors exposes organisations to the risks of accidents and ill health and costly claims and fines.
By law, employers must have in place adequate health and safety arrangements for anyone in the workplace. This includes ensuring that both direct and indirect employees are adequately competent and have sufficient training and tools to conduct their work safely.
To protect themselves, any organisation that employs contractors must provide their managers with the health and safety training necessary to understand these duties and implement them.
Human Focus is currently offering the following contractor management programmes:
When contractors come to a new workplace, they are unfamiliar with its specific hazards, the health and safety arrangement that are in place, and the site rules. They may not have been subject to the same induction and training processes. Employers may not be aware of what level of knowledge, skills, and training the contractors bring with them.
It is essential that employers and the managers of contractors have in place controls to ensure contractors do not expose them to increased risks. Accidents can be severe, or even fatal, and costly. There is no shortage of examples to turn to.
In 2017, London and Southeastern (LSER) and Wetton Cleaning Services Limited received fines of £2.5m and £1.1m respectively when it was found that a lack of safety procedures resulted in the death of a cleaning contractor.
The contractor fell onto a 750-volt live rail at a depot operated by LSER and was electrocuted. LSER, who procured the contractor from Wetton, was prosecuted under Section 3 of the Health and Safety Act. This is just one example where consideration was not adequately given to the work carried out by contractors and safety measures were not followed.
A contractor can be defined as an individual that is procured to work for a company but who is not an employee. Contractors can fulfil a range of tasks such as cleaning, repairs, construction, installation, and routine maintenance.
They may be self-employed or employed by a temporary worker agency. In the latter example, the agency will be deemed the contractor’s employer.
This does not mean that their health, safety and welfare is to be left to their employer alone. An employer procuring the services of a contractor is responsible for ensuring their safety while they are on company premises or conducting work for them off-site.
There are a number of reasons behind workplace incidents. Common matters that contribute to contractors coming to harm include:
- Lack of workplace induction before work commences
- Lack of communication with contract workers
- Lack of supervision and instruction
- Lack of inclusion in workplace safety procedures
- Lack of contractor management training of those assigned to manage on-site contractors
Contractors will lack the awareness of the working environment, procedures and protocols and this makes them more vulnerable than employees. It is vital that they are considered when putting together policies and procedures and that they are made aware of how to work safely while on company premises or carrying out work for the company off-site.
When a contractor or a team of contractors enter onto site it is important that they are managed effectively from the very beginning. A site induction is the first task to complete. It will ensure that they are made aware of the dynamics of the site, any hazards, what to do in the event of an emergency and who to go to for assistance.
Fire safety and first aid procedures need to be communicated as part of the induction also.
Contractors should sign in and out at the beginning and end of the day and when they need to leave the site during the working day. Should there be an emergency evacuation, it will be easier to understand who is on site and who is not.
Communication is key. Contractors should not be neglected when information is given out. Consideration should be given to the way in which safety procedures are communicated. A range of methods should be used including face to face instruction, videos and written documents.
Assigning an employer to manage over contractors is necessary because it means that they can be monitored, accounted for and have a point of contact.
Training those who will be assigned to manage contractors on what is required to keep them and those who may be affected by their work safe, is an effective way to reduce the likelihood of harm.
The contractor safety management training online courses in this toolkit explore what can go wrong at each step of a typical contracted job, the responsibilities of all concerned, and the practical steps, that if taken, will ensure that together the client and the contractor complete the job in a safe manner.
Firstly, it is important to look into the company providing the services:
- Check to see if they have had any health and safety prosecutions, breaches
- Speak to others in the industry to get an idea of their reputation
- Request copies of their health and safety policy
If satisfied, as them for the resumes of the candidates they have that could fulfil the necessary requirements. It is important to also review their qualifications, so asked for certificates is crucial.
Contractor management need not be complicated. Here are some steps that when followed can result in effective management:
To understand how contractors can be harmed and implement control measures a risk assessment needs to be carried out. The results of the risk assessment will aid a plan of work that aims to reduce harm to as low as reasonably possible.
Selecting the right contractor for a particular job is an important element in ensuring that the work is carried out safely and effectively. Employers must do their due diligence into companies they wish to procure contractors from by requesting copies of their safety documents such as health and safety policy, training records and risk assessments.
Arrange an induction for all contractors to complete before they start work. This will make sure that they understand the dynamics of the working environment, what to do in the event of an emergency evacuation, what the first aid and fire arrangements are and how to go to for help.
Contract staff and their work activities should be monitored against the organisation’s safety requirements and any relevant legislation. Making a contractor management checklist can help in monitoring activities against requirements.
The staff member assigned to managing contractors should carry out a review of the work once it has been completed. It is a good idea to do this with contractors to establish how the job went and to identify what could be done better next time and whether improvements are needed.
All contractors must receive induction training before they start work. The level of training will depend on their role. If they will be working with the company for a long period of time, months/years rather than days or a few weeks, they should also be included in internal training sessions in accordance to their role.
The contractor’s employer must ensure that the contractor is well trained to fulfil the work tasks they are contracted to do for their host company. When procuring them for work the host employer must request evidence of their training.