When you’re having works carried out you 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.
You may have assumed that the health and safety is the responsibility of the contractor carrying out the work, however this is not entirely correct as you (the Property Manager/Landlord/ Responsible person) and the contractor you are employing are both responsible for ensuring that works carried out do not pose a risk to health and safety!
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. As well as this, the contractor you hire is also responsible for ensuring that the working practices of their employees, and any subcontractors used, do not pose a risk to health and safety.
We have put together a guide that may help with the process of employing safe contractors for maintenance:
Identify the Job and any potential risks.
The first step to employing a safe contractor is to be clear about what you want the contractor to do. You should provide them with as much information about the job as possible and make sure they understand what is to be expected of them. Contractors also need to know of any areas of risks to be aware of such as: asbestos containing materials, work at height restrictions or other work going on at the same time.
Risk of exposure to Asbestos
If a building was constructed before the year 2000 then it may contain Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) 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 ACMs. 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).
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.
Select a safe and suitable Contractor.
It is important that you are satisfied that the contractor you select to carry out work on your building is capable and competent to do the job safely and without unacceptable risks to health.
Do they have the right combination of skills, experience and knowledge? Are there working practices safe? One of the ways to find out is to vet them or use an external contractor vetting system.
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?
This may seem like a lot to check (and this list is not exhaustive!), 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 an example of this service.
Safe4site Contractor Vetting
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.
Keep residents informed.
It is a good idea to tell residents when and where contractors will be working especially if they could be affected by the work; planning when the work takes place can help avoid such issues as noise complaints. You should advise residents of the actions that are being taken to control or reduce the risk to them and what actions, if any, they will need to take.
Contractors and COVID-19
In these unprecedented times, there are some clear additional considerations to be made when appointing contractors.
Specifically, it is now vital that you review your contractor’s procedures and safe working methods in respect of COVID-19 risk management. Property Managers now need to know that the contractors working on their sites have taken every precaution to ensure they are operating safely to mitigate their potential to spread COVID-19.
Contractors should follow guidance issued by the government and should be considering things such as appropriate PPE, social distancing and enhanced hygiene when visiting a property to carry out works. Of course, all of this should be in addition to the usual safety considerations and not in place of them.
If you would like further information on Safe4site or anything else discussed here, then please get in touch with our team today.