In this post, we take a look at Contractor Duties under CDM 2015. Firstly, let’s answer one of the most common questions we get asked – are you classed as a Contractor?
Who is a Contractor?
A contractor (or sub-contractor) is an organisation or individual who directly employs or engages construction workers or as part of their business carries out, manages or controls construction work (e.g. building, altering, maintaining or demolishing).
Contractors include sub-contractors, any individual, sole trader or self-employed worker.
Why are Contractor Duties important for construction Health and Safety?
Contractors and the workers under their control are those most at risk of injury and ill health on a construction site.
They have an important role in planning, managing and monitoring the work (in liaison with the principal contractor where there is more than one contractor) to ensure risks are properly controlled. Because they have first-hand experience in doing the actual work, they are in a good position to influence their own health and safety and that of others.
Is a Contractor important for construction Health and Safety?
Contractors duties apply as soon as they are appointed to the project to carry out construction work. A contractor should be appointed early enough in the project to allow them sufficient time to plan the work and identify any risks to health and safety. Details of any planning must be recorded as a construction phase plan.
On a project involving more than one contractor, developing the construction phase plan will be the responsibility of the principal contractor, and they must provide a contractor with information within it that is relevant to their work.
The effort devoted to planning should be proportionate to the complexity of the project and the risks involved.
What Competency does a Contractor need?
A contractor or sub-contractor must be able to demonstrate that they have the skills, knowledge and experience and, where an organisation, the organisational capability to carry out the work safely and without risk to health.
Similarly, when a contractor employs or appoints an individual to carry out construction work, they must make sure the individual has the skills, knowledge, experience and training to carry out the work in a way that secures health and safety, or is in the process of obtaining them.
The required level of skills, knowledge and experience (and training where required) should be proportionate to the complexity of the work and the range and nature of the risks involved.
Examples of demonstrating Competence (Skills, knowledge, experience) might include:
- records of continuing professional development (CPD) including training records
- membership of professional bodies
- references from previous construction work
Examples of demonstrating organisational capability might involve:
What you Must Do if you are a Contractor
Contractor duties are considerable and they must do the following on all projects:
- make sure the client is aware of the client duties under CDM 2015 before any work starts
- plan, manage and monitor all work carried out by themselves and their workers, taking into account the risks to anyone who might be affected by it (including members of the public) and the measures needed to protect them
- check that all workers they employ or appoint have the skills, knowledge, training and experience to carry out the work, or are in the process of obtaining them
- make sure that all workers under their control have a suitable, site-specific induction, unless this has already been provided by the principal contractor
- provide appropriate supervision, information and instructions to workers under their control
- ensure they do not start work on site unless reasonable steps have been taken to prevent unauthorised access
- ensure suitable welfare facilities are provided from the start for workers under their control, and maintain them throughout the work
In addition to the above responsibilities, contractors working on projects involving more than one contractor must:
- coordinate their work with the work of others in the project team
- comply with directions given by the principal designer or principal contractor
- comply with parts of the construction phase plan relevant to their work
Where a contractor is the only contractor working on a project, they must ensure a construction phase plan is drawn up before setting up the site.
When working as the only contractor for a domestic client, the contractor takes on the client duties, as well as their own as contractor. However, this should involve them doing no more than they will normally do to comply with health and safety law.
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Contractor Duties for Domestic Clients
Where a domestic project involves more than one contractor, the principal contractor normally takes on the client duties and the contractor will work to the principal contractor as ‘client’.
If the domestic client does not appoint a principal contractor, the role of the principal contractor must be carried out by the contractor.
Also, the client duties must be carried out by the contractor in control of the construction phase. Alternatively, the domestic client can ask the principal designer to take on the client duties (although this must be confirmed in a written agreement) and the contractor must work to them as ‘client’ under CDM 2015.