On the surface, giving independent contractors training may seem like an unnecessary expense; isn’t it their responsibility to ensure that they operate safely? On one hand, you should only work with contractors who are sufficiently trained and qualified to carry out the job.
On the other hand, without specific training for a particular project, the contractors may turn up to work without some of the critical information pertinent to the particular work environment or work processes that they need to carry out their work safely and effectively.
Employers often mistakenly believe that their health and safety responsibilities are transferred to a contractor when that contractor agrees to carry out work for them. In reality, the law requires employers to take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure health and safety is maintained when engaging contractors.
There are numerous benefits in ensuring that everyone working on a particular site has received training that goes beyond the bare minimum required by regulatory authorities.
Firstly, if an accident does occur on your premises, you may still be legally liable, even if the contractor has insurance (in September this year, a company was fined £1.275m by the HSE after a contractor was fatally crushed on their site). Additionally, accidents can cause delays which will ultimately increase the time and cost of the project, as well as have reputational implications.
So, with all this in mind, what training should you provide?
The first step is to evaluate the task the contractors will be undertaking and evaluate any specific risks that arise from the process. Consider factors like the type of work they’ll be performing, potential hazards, and relevant legal requirements.
It is also essential for you to inform the contractors of any risks specific to your jobsite. This guide from the HSE on using contractors tells you what you must do to comply with health and safety law when you use contractors. However, it doesn’t apply to temporary or agency workers – there is more specific information about them on the HSE’s website.
Despite the cost and time implications of giving additional training to contractors, providing safety training is an important aspect of running an ethical business, as well as a legal obligation.
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