The use of contractors is inevitable in most workplaces. The type of work being carried out at such times can be potentially dangerous for both contractors and employees working at the site. In the UK at least, health and safety law puts legal responsibility on both parties (the contractors and the clients) for the safety of each other.
Here are just 5 ways to ensure the safety of all involved.
Carry out a health and safety check prior to work beginning
Prior to carrying out work, make sure a full health and safety check has been made which both parties are satisfied with. Contractors need to be sure they won’t be at risk from aspects of the site – e.g. lead, asbestos, structural damage, whilst clients need to be happy that their employees won’t be put at risk by the contractors’ activities.
Take care in selecting contractors
The best way to be sure of your employees’ safety when hiring contractors is to be thorough in selecting contractors to carry out the work. Ask them for references, particularly for similar jobs. Ask how experienced they are at this particular type of work. Ask what their health and safety procedures are and what training their employees receive. Ask how they undertake risk assessments (and if you can view this before work proceeds).
Pay attention to sub-contracting
Just as important is to be sure that if your contractors do sub-contract, that you’re happy with their methods for doing so. It’s up to them how they select sub-contractors, but you are perfectly entitled to be made aware of their selection procedures to make sure you’re satisfied with them, and to ensure any sub-contractors will be subject to the same health and safety regulations and procedures the contractors are.
Inform everyone who may be affected
It is absolutely essential that all employees know there is work being carried out, where it is, and what they need to do to take account for it e.g. wear a ANSI hard hat if you must go through this area. Also ensure there is a clear procedure for reporting potential safety risks and that all employees are made aware of it.
Regularly monitor work
Aside from relying on employees to report potential safety risks, appoint a specific health and safety monitor to regularly check up on the contractors to make sure all work is in compliance with regulations and pre-agreed processes. Ideally this person should be a trained health and safety officer who knows what to look out for.