Contractor Safety Documentation: What Do I Look For?

It’s common practice for clients to ask contractors and other service suppliers for copies of their risk assessments. Once you’ve got them, how do you know if they’re any good? And if you’re a contractor, what are the key points for you? Here are some tips to meet your duties with the minimum fuss.

Client Tips:

1-The assessment you’ve been given will often be generic: check if it needs to be adapted to cater for the hazards of the work that will be done for you, and if so, ask the contractor to make it site-specific.

2-Don’t worry whether the document is headed ‘risk assessment’ or ‘method statement’: what matters is that everyone’s clear about what’s to be done, its hazards and the precautions that will be taken to keep the risk low.

3-Check for missed major risks such as work at height, being hit by a vehicle and inhaling silica or asbestos dust.

4-Always focus on the safeguards to be taken, not on the documentation itself.

5-Once you’re happy, ‘accept’ rather than ‘approve’ the document: this leaves responsibility for safe delivery with the contractor.

Contractor Tips: 

1-Your client may ask for your assessment, but remember also to share it with those doing and supervising the work (legal duty): they must know what safeguards have been agreed, otherwise how can they apply them?

2-Make sure the assessment covers everyone who could be at risk not just those doing the work. Consider sub-contractors, other contractors, client employees as well as members of the public.

3-Don’t ‘gold-plate’ your documents to impress the client: just put in the safeguards that are required by the risk.

4-Expect clients to hold you to account for delivering all the precautions you’ve mentioned in your risk assessment/method statement.

5-Be specific about precautions: ‘adequate PPE’ is meaningless. Specify the PPE so as to avoid all confusion.

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