As Principal Contractor, Am I Responsible for Contractors Appointed by the Client?

The Query

 I recently received a phone call from a member of our Health and Safety Competent Person Scheme.  The query was one that I’ve advised on many occasions over the years. So, it dawned on me that it would probably be useful to share this advice.

Acting as a Principal Contractor, the Site Manager wanted clarification on the management of contractors.  The issue was that the Site Manager was not happy with the safe system of work a roofing contractor was planning to adopt, and because the roofing contractor’s appointment was made directly by the Client (and not by his company), he was unsure as to what authority he had to ensure the work was undertaken in a safer manner.

The Advice

The simple answer is, if you’ve been appointed as Principal Contractor, you are responsible for the health and safety on your site.  Regardless of who the contractor is, and who’s made the appointment, all contractors must conform to the safety management systems implemented by the Principal Contractor.  Even if the Client themselves visits the site, they must abide by the arrangements that you have in place, they’re by no means exempt.

If you have been appointed as a Principal Contractor, you become responsible for the health and safety aspects of the construction phase of the project.  These duties include planning, managing, and monitoring construction activities to ensure the health and safety of those working on the project and others who may be affected by these activities.

When a contractor is working on your site, as Principal Contractor, you are responsible for ensuring that they’ve developed a safe system of work; in the form of Method Statements with associated Risk Assessments (RAMS).  RAMS should be submitted in good time before the works are due to commence, to allow you, as Principal Contractor, sufficient time to review, comment accordingly and approve the safe system of work.   You should also be satisfied that the individuals undertaking the work have the necessary skills and experience.  The authority lies with the Principal Contractor to authorise the commencement of work once the RAMS have been accepted.

Prior to commencing work on site, the Principal Contractor must ensure that all contractors receive a site induction (which should cover health and safety arrangements on site such as the emergency arrangements, first aid, welfare, site rules etc.) and have been briefed on the approved RAMS.  Monitoring compliance with the RAMS is essential to ensure there is no deviation from the agreed safe system of work.

Need Help?

If you require any further clarification regarding this article, or have any CDM related queries, then please contact one of our CDM Consultants today.  Call Marpal on 01332 668877 or email us at [email protected].

Marpal - CDM Consultancy - Long CTA

A CDM Guide For Principal Contractors