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Managing Building Contractors Who Work On Your Premises

Dec 29, 2014

Under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 it states that clients have specific responsibilities. Many organisations are often not aware of their responsibilities when engaging the services of contractors. This could potentially lead to the risk of prosecution. Many Estate’s Managers, School Business Managers and Facilities Teams often assume it is purely the responsibility of the contractor to ensure that they work safely. This is a common misconception. Firstly let’s point out who I am referring to when I use the word ‘client’ from now on. A client is an organisation or individual for whom a construction project is carried out. A CDM client is someone who is having construction or building work carried out, unless they are a domestic client.

A domestic client is someone who lives, or will live, in the premises where the work is carried out. The premises must not relate to any trade, business or other undertaking. Although a domestic client does not have duties under CDM, those who work for them on construction projects will. However, for the purpose of this article we are considering clients who include schools, colleges, factories, retail premises and commercial premises in general. Under CDM clients have a series of duties:

On all projects (regardless of duration and including non-notifiable projects) clients will need to:

  • check competence and resources of all appointees
  • ensure there are suitable management arrangements for the project welfare facilities
  • allow sufficient time and resources for all stages
  • provide pre-construction information to designers and contractors

Where projects are notifiable under CDM 2007, clients must also:

  • appoint a CDM co-ordinator
  • appoint a principal contractor
  • make sure that construction work does not start unless a construction phase plan is in place and there are adequate welfare facilities on site
  • provide information relating to the health and safety file to the CDM co-ordinator
  • retain and provide access to the health and safety file

As a result clients have considerable responsibilities when having work undertook on their property. It is of vital importance that you manage your duties effectively and within the law. When appointing contractors ensure they are reputable and it is often a good idea to check they are members of organisations such as Constructionline, CHAS or Safe Contractor.  Once you have investigated potential contractors and are satisfied they are competent both in their technical abilities but also in their ability to manage safety- you need to ensure that you have adequate pre-construction information available to your contractor.

The amount of detail required in the pre-construction pack depends on the project being carried out but it is important that this is not missed out on smaller projects. You may be a School Business Manager about to carry out a classroom refurbishment or some roofing repairs. You may think they are minor works with little risk. This may in fact be true. However, have you informed contractors of the presence of asbestos or explained that there are a number of fragile roof lights in the roof?  It is important that suitable and sufficient information is provided to your contractors.

As you can see clients have a  lot of responsibility  under CDM 2007 and as a result it is important to ensure that you are well advised when undertaking building, refurbishment and maintenance works, regardless of their size. If we can be of assistance to you in this area please don’t hesitate to get in touch.