Vetting your contractors to protect your business

Whether you are a director of a farm trading company, a partner in a farming operation or a trustee of a farm managed in hand, you are obliged – under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 – to ensure that you have an effective health and safety management system in place. This duty of care extends not only to the business’s immediate employees but all others that may be affected by the acts or omissions of the business such as but not limited to contractors, visitors and members of the public.

Business growth and diversification including construction projects, operating commercial property lets, event venues, shooting premises or similar diversification projects, further increases the scope of your responsibility to manage risk in order to protect visitors, residents, contractors and the general public.

A contractor can be anyone providing goods or a service and therefore can be employed for both short and long-term periods from seasonal harvest work through to large scale building projects; but it is important to remember that regardless of the size or scale of the job, the owner, occupier and contractors each have a duty of care and responsibility to one other. Therefore, workers must be made aware of potential risks and endeavour to follow safe working practice whilst conducting work.

The nature of the agricultural and rural sector poses a unique set of risks where livestock, machinery and lone working are concerned, often making farms hazardous environments for all involved, if they are not properly aware of the dangers.

Issues often arise when contractors are exposed to dangerous working environments or when they are not aware of the dangers posed by the likes of livestock, machinery and fragile roofs for example. It is therefore vital that contractors are briefed on the potential risks, are aware of the hazardous situations which may occur, and know what to do in case of an emergency.

It is essential that as a business you ensure appointed contractors are qualified, experienced and fully competent to do the job, with evidence of appropriate certificates of competence and a health and safety management system. It is also important to ensure they are fully equipped with the relevant materials and resources to carry out the job safely and correctly.

In order for the work to be completed safely contractors must adhere to the best practice of health and safety standards and should be briefed on relevant site policies, procedures and safety information such as location of overhead powerlines, asbestos containing materials, underground services, loading and unloading arrangements, usually by way of an induction in order to ensure adequate controls are in place.

For further information on how we can help you manage your approved contractor list manage and associated health & safety adherence, contact us by phone or complete the enquiry form. We will be happy to advise.

Oliver Dale, October 2020.  Safety Revolution Ltd ©


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