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Last edited 24 Feb 2021
Checking for health and safety in businesses
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Construction (Design Management) Regulations 2007 place responsibilities on business owners to assess sub-contractors to ensure their health and safety is being addressed.
Legally, you cannot pass on these duties to another party although some business owners believe if they pass on an activity, they pass on the risk. This is not the case; if a sub-contractor has an accident you still have some responsibility and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) may consider you liable. The supplier will also be responsible, so it is in both your interests to reduce the likelihood of an accident happening.
How do you check the competence and compliance of your suppliers? Ask them. It is commonplace to have risk assessments requested by customers. You can produce a questionnaire that they can complete and would ask for details of:
- Health and safety policy.
- Insurance levels.
- Arrangements for health and safety - basically what they do to keep people safe.
- Sample risk assessments.
- Are they, or have they, been subject to HSE investigations?
- Details of the person, or external company, used for health and safety and their qualifications.
- Staff training.
- How staff get information and any workforce involvement,
- Health and safety performance, e.g. accident stats, how they monitor their legal compliance.
- How they investigate accidents.
- Do they agree to work within your own policy?
Once they have completed the questionnaire you need to review it to check everything is in place. If the information looks complete you can file it and move on, but if it not you will need to contact them and establish why the information is not up to standard.
It may also be necessary to monitor them whilst they are working for you. This may not always be practical but if you can see them in action it will give you an idea whether they are working to their own designated practices. In addition, it shows you are monitoring them and trying to ensure safe practices whilst they are working for you. Any issues raised from your monitoring should also be recorded so that you have evidence that you have taken reasonable measures to work safely.
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