Are your Contractors Safe for Site?

Katie Mooney, Social Media Executive at 4site Consulting asks are your contractors safe for site?

When you’re having major works carried out, not only do you need to budget, plan, and consider the impact it may have on the building and its tenants, you also need to take into consideration your moral and legal obligations for the health and safety of contractors and anyone who may be affected by their activities.

Both you and the contractor you are employing are responsible for ensuring that works carried out do not pose a risk to the safety and health of tenants, workers and any other visitors to the site.

If you are accountable for a site and are hiring contractors to undertake major works, then you will need to ensure that the contractors you select are competent and safe, and that your site is not a dangerous environment for them to work in. This works both ways, as the contractor is also responsible for ensuring that the working practices of their employees, and any subcontractors used, do not pose a risk.

Safe Working Environment

One important thing to consider, is whether the building was constructed before the year 2000 and may therefore contain potentially harmful asbestos containing materials that could be accidently disturbed during the works. As a starting point you should have an Asbestos Management Survey in place to identify the location of any asbestos materials. If the building does contain asbestos, and the works undertaken are going to be intrusive, then you will need to have a more thorough Refurbishment and Demolition Survey carried out before any works commences. Depending on the condition of the asbestos materials and its location, you may need to have the asbestos removed safely (by a competent asbestos removal company).

A survey carried out by the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health found that "32 per cent [of construction workers] have never checked the asbestos register before starting work on a new site, with 15 per cent of these not knowing about the register.” It is your responsibility to ensure contractors have access to the sites asbestos surveys and the register, however, it is also their responsibility to ensure they are checking this before they begin any works.

As well as ensuring contractors are mindful of any asbestos in the block, you should also ensure they are informed of other health and safety procedures. For instance, contractors should be made aware of the emergency procedures and fire evacuation plans for the building. In some circumstances where the work is more complex or there are multiple jobs occurring, onsite training and instruction may be needed.

Contractor Vetting

It important that when you have works carried out, you are selecting competent contractors. Communication is key; not only will you need to brief contractors of your site processes, you will need to find out what they are doing to ensure safety, and you will need to communicate with residents to keep them updated.

Some of the things you should be considering when employing contractors are:

  • Do they subcontract, and do they have a program in place that effectively assess the competency of their sub-contractors?
  • Have they had suitable and sufficient health and safety training?
  • Do they regularly maintain and inspect their equipment?
  • Do they have any required health and safety certifications, such as ISO accreditations?
  • Do they have the right insurance in place for the work they are doing and is it up-to-date?

You must also ensure that they have health and safety policies in place, and that they are effectively communicating these policies to you and other relevant parties.

High risk activities will need particular attention. For Example, work at height should be avoided if possible. However, if this is unavoidable contractors should conduct a suitable and sufficient risk assessment beforehand to demonstrate how the work is being conducted safely.

Other high-risk activities may include working with chemicals, asbestos materials and confined space entry.

You will also need to consider whether the work is routine maintenance or construction work in which case the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM) will apply. Basically, where the activity involves construction processes, requires construction skills and uses construction materials, it is most likely to fall within the term construction work and CDM will apply. General maintenance adjustments, tree-work, cleaning, lift maintenance, testing of services and minor repairs are not considered construction work and therefore CDM would not apply. More advice on CDM can be found on the HSE website or by contacting us here at 4site.

Contractor Selection - Safe4site

Regardless of whether the work falls under CDM or not a key responsibility is to be satisfied that the contractor you select is capable and competent to do the job safely and without unacceptable risks to health. This is sometimes referred to as contractor vetting or reasonable enquiry into competence.

This may seem like a lot to check before choosing a contractor, which is why there are various contractor vetting services that will take away the administrative burden.

In most cases, these services allow you to search a large database of contractors that have already been approved and accredited.

Safe4site is the trading name of a system operated by 4site Consulting. Safe4site is designed to certify that contractors have evidence of relevant documentation, qualifications, risk assessments and safe systems of work to ensure they are safe to be working on your property.

Safe4site provides contractor management and vetting services that allows property managers to search, select and instruct suitable approved contractors for free. These contractors undergo rigorous checks for insurances and the required health & safety documentation relevant to their work activities. Approved contractors are continually monitored to ensure insurances and memberships are in date and documentation is compliant.

 

A family run company at its core, 4site Consulting completes in excess of 9,000 property visits each year for property professionals across the UK. 4site employ all of their advisors directly, never sub-contracting so they can control and maintain consistency and quality of reporting, providing the best service and keeping prices competitive, realistic and stable.

 

Reviewed: July 2019