If you’re looking for a career that’s flexible, varied and allows you to not only hire your own staff but work under a business name of your choice, then becoming a contractor could be the right option for you. Offering your skillset to a wide range of companies is a great way to make money, but whether you’re supplying cladding paints or grafting on a building site, you must take health and safety regulations seriously.

There are many rules in place that will help keep you and your employees safe, so here are several precautions all contractors should know:

Young woman wearing safety equipments

Do not take unnecessary risks

Amidst a tough economic climate it can be tempting to take on any work that comes your way, but it’s important to make sure you have the skills, equipment and time necessary to do the job at hand. Taking unnecessary risks is simply not worth it – if an accident, injury or fatality should occur both you and the company you’re working for could be held responsible.

An example of both parties paying the ultimate price for poor work can be found in the ‘Use of Contractors’ document by HSE which states how contractors provided a scaffold onto a fragile, unfenced roof, which was 10 metres off the ground so that a roof leaking test could be carried out. An operator walked onto the roof and fell to his death through a fragile vent. In this case, the client was found guilty and fined £27,000 for failing to provide adequate information and supervision and the contractor was found guilty and fined £3,000 for failing to implement straightforward controls and safeguards.

Carry out a thorough risk assessment

Before any work is carried out, the contractor must assess the risk for the contracted work before discussing their findings with both the client and any sub-contractors needed.
All parties must agree on the dangers before putting into place preventative and protective steps that will apply when the work is in process. Anything that affects the health and safety of the workforce or anyone else, including visitors, must be taken seriously and the working environment must be made as secure as possible meaning optimum cooperation is required.

Contractor with a smartphone

Hire suitable sub-contractors

When choosing contractors, clients will most probably ask an array of essential questions to ensure the individual or company in question can do the job well without putting the health of individuals at risk. Similarly, if you decide to sub-contract work, you could perhaps ask the following questions to ensure any work associated with you and your business won’t be given a bad name by the poor performance of others: What experience do you have? What are your health and safety policies? What qualifications do you have? What health and safety training do you provide? Are you members of a relevant trade or professional body? Do you have a safety method statement?

If you’re a contractor, taking the relevant health and safety precautions will ensure you only do work that suits your qualifications and will prevent you from endangering lives or facing costly legal issues.