Choosing the right contractor for your business or project might seem like an easy task at first glance. The contractor in question may have come highly recommended, they might provide services at a very competitive price, or they might be available at the perfect time. However, there are many more things that you need to consider before you let them turn up on site. By no means least amongst these considerations are your health and safety obligations. In light of the current global pandemic, you need to ensure you aren’t exposing your workers to increased risk.

You may not have had trouble finding a contractor, but can you trust that they’ll deliver on time, are they as capable as they claim to be, and will they adhere to safety standards? To keep your project running smoothly, reduce the risk in hiring contractors and ensure workplace health and safety throughout, here are six things that you should check with you contractor before they turn up on site:

1. Does Your Contractor Have Relevant Experience?

Every business is different, as is every project. If you’re engaging contractor services to help you, it can make all the difference if they have relevant experience. Not only will this mean that they are more familiar with what they need to deliver, but they will be more familiar with the hazards of the particular type of work. Check that they have the necessary industry experience in order to carry out the work for your specific business or project requirements before they start.

2. Can Your Contractor Prove Their Previous Health and Safety Performance?

When engaging contractor services, you have a right to know whether they have had any enforcement actions taken against them. You should ask them for a full record of any incidents that have occurred on previous jobs and should ask to see their compliance record, which will give you a good indication of their approach towards workplace health and safety. It is vital that you know that your contractors have the right standards and procedures in place to ensure workplace health and safety when they arrive on site.

3. Does Your Contractor Bring Any Additional Risks?

In light of current times, with us all facing a global pandemic, it’s imperative that you know of any additional risk your contractor is bringing to site. While it may seem difficult to pose the questions, you need to know whether they have recently travelled abroad, whether they have visited any high-risk sites, and, most importantly, whether they are displaying any symptoms of Covid-19. You have a responsibility for the health and safety of your workers, and that involves doing everything you can to limit their exposure to the virus.

4. Does Your Contractor Have the Necessary Insurances, Licences and Registrations?

While we all like to think that accidents will never happen, the fact of the matter is that they do. And, when they do, your business can become liable for damages. Before your contractors arrive on site, it is fundamental to verify all the necessary documentation to mitigate your business’s litigation and safety risks. Contractors will need public liability insurance and workers compensation insurance as well as appropriate work-specific licences and registrations, risk assessments, safety policies and training records.

5. How Will You Communicate With Your Contractor When They Are On Site?

Once your contractors are onsite, you need to know how to communicate with each other. It’s no good letting them turn up and then getting frustrated that they don’t keep you updated. You will want to make lines of communication clear. Contractors should know how to reach out, who to and how often. Whether you plan in regular site meetings so you can talk face to face or schedule daily phone calls, you need to stay in touch. And, even more importantly, they need to be clear what they need to do in the event of an incident. Your communication plan should clearly include how they will notify you of any problems should they occur.

6. Is Your Contractor Financially Stable?

While your contractor might be highly skilled and have all the right insurances and licences in place, they also need to be financially secure. You need to check that any contractor you engage has the ability to fulfil their contract with you. You can look at their past job history and performance, their income, the size of their business, and whether they’ve filed for bankruptcy. By checking their financial stability before they arrive on site, you can ascertain the amount of risk you are taking in working with them. If you don’t do this, you take the risk of them not having the ability to procure material, tools and equipment required for the project.

The truth of the matter is that selecting the right contractor is a complicated business, with serious consequences if you get it wrong. In fact, many large firms have whole departments devoted to getting it right. Not only do you need to find the best person for the job at the best price, you need to ensure that everything will be delivered on time and that it will be done so safely. Asking contractors the right questions before they turn up is a vital part of contractor selection and the only way to set the necessary groundwork for workplace health and safety and to reduce risk to your business and your workers.

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