Contractor management is your responsibility

Are you certain you and your organisation are doing everything practicably possible (practicably possible means feasible and is capable of being done) with contractor management to prevent harm and protect your business while contractors are operating on your site?

Are you thinking, as you yet haven’t had a major problem, why do I need to change?


Why is this so important?

It is important to ensure that contractors are properly briefed on and understand the hazards and risks associated with your organisation’s activities, in order for them to be able to work safely and to safeguard the integrity of your business.


We all need to use contractors: this may be in supplementing our staff, providing expertise on specialist tasks, or just external help on general maintenance and non-routine activities.

Your business will ( I hope) do it’s utmost in creating safe systems for your own staff, but note: a very high number of companies fail to pass these standards on to their contractors.

It’s become a standard to trust the contractor is safe and competent!


Whether it is one individual or several different contractors,  accidents and ill health can be costly.
This article has been written to help you inspect your own procedures and see where you can improve.

Accidents happen more easily when a company excludes contractor’s from their usual methods of safe working.


Fact: All work activities are covered by health and safety law!

Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 states:
It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.


Just because you haven’t yet had a major problem with a contractor, it doesn’t mean you don’t need to tighten up. You probably have safe systems in place for your own staff, but are they always passed on to your contractors?
The evidence further on in this article reveals, even the largest of organisations can fall short of managing contractors.


Who qualifies as a contractor?

A contractor is anyone you get to work for you who is not an employee.

In this article, we use many extracts from regulatory documents and guidance notes from the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) and also the principal of UK health and safety compliance
The Health and Safety at work etc. Act 1974′ It’s these mandatory documents that helped us to put together 3 key provisions that companies can follow for successfully managing contractors:

  • Corroborate – Effective Planning with your supply chain
  • Control – Check, monitor and improve behaviours
  • Capture – Competence, closure and proof.

It’s no surprise that employers who put real effort into making health and safety practices effective, not only to staff but also contractors gained many benefits in doing so. For example, they save money, reduce risk, improve performance, increase control,  improve morale and client relations.

So ‘Health and Safety’ needs to be a primary focus when selecting and managing your contractors?


The HSE HSG159 Managing Contractors guidance document clearly details the requirement for companies managing contractors:

  • Assess contractors competence in health and safety before they get the job?
  • Inform them of the hazards on-site and the emergency procedures before they start?
  • Know who’s on your site and where they are?
  • Detail specific hazards?
  • Measure suppliers performance in health and safety?
  • keep track of progress until the job finishes?
  • When the job is complete, do a warm down talk and update records?

An extract from ‘Managing Contractors Document HSG159’ explaining how contractors are subject to even greater hazards and risk than your own staff…


HSE HSG159 report extract

HSE HSG159 report extract


The above report clarifies the importance of getting your contractor management right.
If you still need convincing that good contractor management will improve operations, reduce risk and protect you and your business from breaches in health and safety law, then the following links will provide compelling evidence, failing to manage contractors has ZERO benefit.



No one plans to have an accident. No one wants to become ill as a result of their work. Yet there is no shortage of examples – some major, or fatal – all serious and costly.


So what about health…

Heart in hand image

Heart in hand image

As a company, you are also responsible for reducing error and Influencing behaviours, today its called ‘Human Factors’,
Not only is this applicable to your employees, but also your contractors and temporary workers!

The HSE publication that helps with guidance and improvement is:
‘HSG48 Reducing Error and Influencing Behaviour’

To empower you and your team to advance, we’ve extracted a few sections:



Improving health and safety helps you improve morale and productivity in your business. Your workers can do their work with less difficulty and less danger. They will appreciate improvements you make to their working environment. This can save you money and add to your profitability in the long run.

Stress and accidents at work are two of the biggest causes of absence from work today. Whether they cause short, unscheduled absences or long-term illness, they can have a serious impact on your productivity and profits. If workers have to cover for an absent colleague it can put additional pressures on them, contributing to an increased absence in the longer term.

Including Occupational Health and Safety (OHS), basics in your supply chain OHS vision gives your business the capability to improve.
If you are a business looking to phase out OHSAS 18001 and phase in ISO 45001, then you need to focus responsibility on your supply chain forming part of your OH&S Management System.

Q: Will you empower your business to align your OH&S Management System with your supply chain, creating a centralised standard for compliance, or will you maintain a disjointed effort costing time and increased risk?


The impact of failure

When a business fails in communication or simply standards have not adhered too, this creates an unsafe workplace along with the potential for a serious maybe fatal accident.
Non-compliance not only impacts the people who got hurt and their families but also for your business, this can now be very costly!

Were you aware of the Sentencing Councils publication of the definitive guidelines for health and safety offences, corporate manslaughter and food safety offences that came into effect 1st February 2016? Described as the most dramatic change to health and safety legislation since the introduction of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act in 1974?

If you missed the government sentencing council guideline awareness campaign (most of the businesses did), then let me enlighten…

The new guidelines structure introduced a nine-step approach that the Courts should follow, below is a brief insight into two of the nine steps:

  1. Health and safety offences are concerned with failures to manage risk to health and safety, and do not require proof that the offence… caused any actual harm!
  2. Having determined the offence category; the court is required to focus on the organisation’s annual turnover or equivalent to reach a starting point for the fine. The offender is expected to provide comprehensive accounts for the last three years, to enable the court to make an accurate assessment of its financial status.

With this new or updated knowledge of the sentencing guidelines, you may want to again read the 2 accidents previous in this article, you then should understand why the effects of not managing contractors can cost businesses millions.


How can we change?

Do not ignore the foundations needed to effectively manage health and safety…
Create a future vision, improve compliance and work effectively in creating something in conjunction with others.
Align your business standards with your supply chain.
Protect from increased legislation.

  • Corroborate – Effective PlanningEvidence the performance of your supply chain
  • Control – Monitor and improve contractor behaviours
  • Capture – Evidence and competence.

How do you manage contractors today? this 2-minute quiz based on the HSE’s HSG159 guide for employers should help.
HSE’s HSG159 guide to Managing Contractor’s quiz.

As a business, if you have the ability to prove contractor competence before they start work, providing your management the knowledge contractors can perform a task safely and allowing job documentation to be released, then you are most likely complying with the law. If you cant, then you are not complying with the law and NEED TO CHANGE!


How can Safety PAL (PLAN ACT LEARN) help?

Our dedicated Contractor Management page provides more details on how you can use innovative technology to prevent your business from harm, protect managers and directors from prosecution.

Safety PAL will help your business improve contractor management, contractor competence, coordinate operations, and help with human factors all while providing your businesses with the evidence
‘you have done everything practicable possible

Contractor competence is not just about checking workers have a laminated minimum safety card, a certificate for operating machinery or evidence they have seen a powerpoint induction. Contractor competence should be about ensuring they have a combination of awareness, training, skills and experience.

Safety PAL not only helps you comply with your employer requirements for operating a safe system of work, our unique corroboration tools improve contractors awareness and knowledge, creating a Safer, Smarter and Faster supply chain.


Doing what you think is right, does not necessarily mean you are doing the right thing. Furthermore: if you can’t prove you have done everything practicably possible, then you probably haven’t?

“if you cant prove it, you haven’t done it”


Everyone including contractors has a right to go home safely from work every day!

Karl Spencer
Founder of Safety PAL


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