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Role of the Contractor

The aim of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 is to improve the overall management and co-ordination of health, safety and welfare throughout all stages of a construction project and therefore to reduce the large number of serious and fatal accidents and cases of ill health which happen every year in the construction industry.

All those who work in the construction industry have their part to play looking after their own health and safety and in improving the industry’s health and safety record.

Who is a Contractor under CDM 2015?

The Regulations define a Contractor as follows:

“Anyone who directly employs or engages construction workers or manages construction is a Contractor. Contractors include sub-contractors, any individual, sole trader, self-employed worker, or business that carries out, manages or controls construction work as part of their business. This also includes companies that use their own workforce to do construction work on their own premises. The duties on Contractors apply whether the workers under their control are employees, self-employed or agency workers.”

Why is a Contractor important?

Contractors and the Workers under their control are those most at risk of injury and ill health. They can influence the way work is carried out to secure their own health and safety and that of others affected. They have an important role in planning, managing and monitoring the work (in liaison with the Principal Contractor, where appropriate) to ensure risks are properly controlled. The key to this is the proper coordination of the work, underpinned by good communication and cooperation with others involved.

What must a Contractor do?

Contractors have a number of specific duties. These include the requirements if appointing a Sub-Contractor to ensure that they have the skills, knowledge and experience and, where relevant, organisational capability to carry out the work for which they are being appointed and to cooperate with other duty holders.

Contractors must also ensure that the following duties are met.

Making Clients aware of their duties

Contractors must not carry out any construction work on a project unless they are satisfied that the Client is aware of their Client duties under CDM 2015. In cases where the Contractor is the only one involved, they must liaise directly with the Client to establish this.

Planning, managing and monitoring construction work

Contractors are required to plan, manage and monitor the construction work under their control so it is carried out in a way that controls the risks to health and safety. On projects involving more than one Contractor, this will involve the Contractor coordinating the planning, management and monitoring of their own work with that of the Principal Contractor and other Contractors and, where appropriate, the Principal Designer.

On single Contractor projects, the Contractor is responsible for planning the construction phase and for drawing up the Construction Phase Plan before setting up the construction site.

Appointing and employing workers

When a Contractor employs or appoints an individual to work on a construction site, they should ensure that the individual has the skills, knowledge, training and experience to carry out the work they will be employed to or is in the process of obtaining them.

Providing supervision

A Contractor who employs Workers or manages Workers under their control must ensure that appropriate supervision is provided. The level of supervision provided will depend on the risks to health and safety involved, and the skills, knowledge, training and experience of the Workers concerned.

Providing information and instructions

Contractors should provide their employees and workers under their control with the information and instructions they need to carry out their work without risk to health and safety. This must include suitable site induction (where this has not been provided by the Principal Contractor); the procedures to be followed in the event of serious and imminent danger to health and safety and information on the hazards and associated risks on site relevant to their work as well as the control measures put in place.

Preventing unauthorised access to the site

A contractor must not begin work on a construction site unless reasonable steps have been taken to prevent unauthorised access to the site.

Providing welfare facilities

Contractors are required to provide welfare facilities which meet the minimum requirements set out in the Regulations. This duty only extends to the provision of welfare facilities for the Contractor’s own employees who are working on a construction site or anyone else working under their control. Facilities must be made available before any construction work starts and should be maintained until the end of the project.

On projects involving more than one Contractor, meeting this duty will involve discussing and agreeing with the Principal Contractor who has a similar duty to provide welfare facilities. For projects involving only one Contractor, the Contractor themselves must ensure that suitable welfare facilities are available.

Working for Domestic Clients

A Contractor’s role when working on a project for a Domestic Client is no different to their role when carrying out work for a Commercial Client. They must still carry out the duties set out in the Regulations in proportion to the risks involved in the project. But, in certain circumstances the duties of the Domestic Client are transferred to another duty holder, including the Principal Contractor.

Where Contractors are involved in design work, including for temporary works, they also have duties as Designers.

OM Safety Solutions Ltd provides Health and Safety Services to contractors on all projects as part of our Construction Health and Safety Consultant service. Additionally, many support services are included within our Construction Business Safety Solutions.

Contact us to find out how you can safely discharge your duties relating to the role and responsibilities of the Contractor.