Protecting onsite contractors

How do I protect on-site contractors during building work and renovations?

As businesses adapt to change due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so too business owners need to tailor their workspace. With the longer days and fine weather, it’s one of the most popular times of the year to start renovations and building work. So how do you protect contractors working at your business premises?

We all know that a lack of control of on-site contractors could lead to accidents and injuries to both the contractors and your employees. Failing to adequately supervise contractors could also result in damage to premises, machinery and equipment, and loss of business. What’s more, there’s also the possibility of civil compensation claims and prosecution of businesses who failed to fully appreciate the extent of their duties in relation to contractors.

The following checklist will give you an outline of the areas you need to consider in respect of contractors and how to use best practice in selecting, appointing and managing them:

Legal Duties

Organisations must ensure that a contractor is not at risk from their business, whilst the contractor must ensure that employees, tenants, residents and visitors to a business are not at risk from their activities. The Health and Safety at Work Act etc. 1974 (section 3) requires employers and the self-employed, to ensure that their activities do not endanger persons not in their employment, and information is provided concerning potential health and safety hazards.

Selecting a Contractor

Prior to employing the services of a contractor, it is essential that appropriate checks are completed, especially in respect of those contractors who will be undertaking hot work. Many organisations have a policy of only using contractors from an ‘Approved List’ of companies, whose capability and safety performance have been assessed to an agreed level. Thorough check before a contractor is appointed will save you headaches in the long run.

Planning the Work

A detailed plan of work involving contractors will help you keep the project on track and minimise losses. Plus appointing an individual to manage the project and liaise with contractors, both before the commencement and throughout the duration of the contract will help the building work or renovation stay on time, within budget and avoid health and safety hazards.

Permits to Work

Tasks where permits to work may be required include hot work, pressure systems, confined spaces, excavation works, high voltage electrical work and working at height. Other considerations include allocating a permit to work for a single shift only and then either closing-off the permit and opening a new one for the next shift or undertaking a formal handover procedure.

Contractor Management on Site

Prior to contractors commencing work, ensure all contractor employees have undergone a formal recorded induction programme. The work to be completed, the areas in which the contractors can operate, together with what can and cannot be done, along with signing-in and signing-out procedures, should be clearly defined, e.g., in the form of a ‘Site Rules for Contractors’ leaflet which is issued to all contractors. Signatures to confirm that they have read and understood the induction training and site rules should be obtained prior to them starting work.

Contract Completion

Upon completion of the contract check that the work undertaken has been completed satisfactorily, and that all appropriate documentation and operational procedures have been fully explained, especially if the project involved the installation of equipment.

For a detailed guide to how to manage contractors you can visit the Health and Safety Executive website here:

To discuss insurance that you might need during your building work or renovations at your business premises, please give our experienced team a call on 01905 21681.