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Published: 30th September 2019

Who is responsible for the safety of contractors on your site?

It is commonplace for businesses within the chemicals sector to enlist the use of contractors to supplement their engineering staff. Contractors are not employees, however, anyone who uses a contractor must understand that they have health and safety responsibilities by law; both for the contractors and for anyone else that may be affected by their activities.

Contractors are often used for specific specialised tasks that can often involve hazardous activities. Generally speaking, contractors are used for carrying out non-routine activities whereby there may be a greater potential risk for harm if the work carried out is not properly managed.

It is crucial to make sure that your contractors are properly briefed on the task at hand, and that they fully understand the major hazard risks associated with your activities in order for them to work safely and to safeguard the integrity of your plant and processes.

Remember that contractors are strangers to your workplace and therefore this means that they may be at a greater risk. They may be unfamiliar to your organisation’s hazards, rules, procedures and regulations, or recent changes to your plant or processes.

Robust contract management will help prevent injuries, ill health, additional costs, and delays. Each year millions of working days are lost due to work-related illness and injury. Statistically, contractors are at greater risk of being harmed than the employer’s own workforce.

Working closely with the contractor will reduce the risks to your own employees and the contractors themselves. You might have more than one contractor on-site at any given time. In this scenario, you need to think about how their work may affect each other and how they interact with your activities.

Clearly, in these circumstances, there is more chance of something being overlooked.

If you are concerned that your organisation may be at risk, you may want to encourage your contractors to take a look at our Hazard Management Foundations Course.

This course covers the identification, evaluation, and prevention of accidents and incidents, as a direct result of failures in equipment, processes and procedures. All employees working in high hazard industries need to understand the safety, health and environmental hazards associated with their working environment.

In conjunction with the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB), eligible contractors may be able to access funding towards this course. You can find out more information by clicking here.

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