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Health and safety for outside contractors

Contractors are considered separately to regular employees or offsite workers, and as such, there are certain considerations you need to make when it comes to health and safety provisions when making use of their services.

Ensuring safety and competence

The use of contractors is a very broad issue. How do you ensure that the people you hire are skilled and professional enough to be suitable for your needs? One simple way to determine this is to ask for verifiable past examples of work they have undertaken.

To take that further still, you could also look only for contractors who are members of professional contracting bodies. For example, the Federation of Master Builders or the FCSA.

Health and safety for outside contractors

Whatever your industry, there will be some overseeing body that can guarantee competence for your contractors. These bodies often have rigorous membership criteria, and if your potential contractors have passed and been accredited as a member, you can be sure that you’re hiring competently.

Something that you should certainly keep in mind when using contractors is that they are not, in the strictest sense, “employees.” It may be more accurate to instead describe them as a service that your business is making use of. As they will not be your employees, employee liability insurance will not cover you in the event of injury.

 Instead, you should ensure you have a sufficient public liability insurance policy in place for both the public and hired contractors. An alternative solution is if the contractors work on your premises. In this case, it’s a mutual solution – the contractor’s insurance covers your business and property; your PLI covers the contractors themselves.

Open co-operation between all parties

With that said, the use of contractors is mutual in more than one way. Say, for example, you hire a contractor, who then takes on subcontractors. At some point, a subcontractor is injured in the line of work.

One might think that the contractor is the one at fault, as they oversaw the subcontractors. Unfortunately, as health and safety is taken exceptionally seriously, it’s a distinct possibility that all three parties involved will be fined.

To avoid situations such as this, you should ensure that every party involved is made fully aware of your health and safety policy, fully trained on procedures and equipment usage, and sufficiently supervised during their work. They may still be qualified professionals, but every workplace is different, and training on your specific procedures and risks may be necessary.

There is no deflection of responsibility when it comes to ensuring the safety of anyone who works for you in any capacity, so it’s extremely important health and safety is given all the due diligence it deserves for the benefit of not just the parties involved, but the future of your business as well.

How FSB can help with your contractors

Once all reasonable provisions have been made to ensure safety, you should find that your business runs much more efficiently with fewer injuries.

FSB offer a Health and Safety Advice service to help you through every step of making your business as safe as possible. We provide you with:

  • Round the clock health and safety advice from industry experts on our Legal Advice Helpline
  • Health and safety policy template documents and guidance, written by experts in their field
  • Free health and safety factsheets and documents including accident reporting, manual handling and risk assessments
  • Online training modules

To find out more, get in touch with a member of our team or visit our Health and Safety Advice page.

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