Choosing the right contractor for your project

When choosing the right contractor we are often under budget constraints and get multiple quotes to find that sweet balance between affordability and quality of work… but we should also always research their standards of safety too.

No matter how great and affordable their work is, if your contractor doesn’t work in a safe way you could end up with injuries to workers or the public, damage to property, damage to your reputation and serious legal and financial implications. Not so affordable now, huh?

If the work being carried out is subject to CDM Regulations (more than likely in the UK), whatever your role is you have specific duties and responsibilities under Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015; which includes selection of contractors with the right skills, knowledge, training and experience to carry out the work.

So first, how do we go about choosing the right contractor?

  1. Recommendations from other industry professionals: one of the best methods for gaining insight into how the contractor works on-site
  2. Trade Associations: Many trades have associations/guilds that accredit contractors and ensure they are qualified/work to a certain standard. This is a good way to find a contractor if you have no-one to recommend one, as to join a guild or association contractors generally have to have a high standard of qualifications, work and documentation.
  3. The Internet: Simply searching for your desired trade on internet search engines will provide you with 1000s of potential contractors.. This can be a bit of a minefield, as sorting through the 1000s of search results to find a suitable contractor can take hours, with no real proof of the contractors work. Always try and speak to a previous client for a testimony!
  4. Industry Convention/Magazine: conventions can be a great way to meet potential contractors and get to meet them in person. Generally companies will bring an example of their work to a convention, and will use the opportunity to network with potential colleagues and clients. Industry blogs/magazines can also be used to search for a contractor.

So now we’ve narrowed it down to who we think would be right for the job, it’s important to also ask the following questions:

  1. Do they have the relevant insurance? Your project might stipulate a level of cover contractors require. As a minimum you should expect them to have Public Liability Insurance, Employer’s Liability Insurance and also Professional Indemnity Insurance.
  2. Are they experienced in the job you are contracting them for? Perhaps they could show you some pictures, risk assessments and method statements for a similar project they have done before.
  3. What kind of qualifications do employees/managers of the company hold? Are these sufficient for the job they are doing?
  4. Do they have data for their recent health and safety performance? Do they have a low/high accident rate?
  5. Will they be using any subcontractors? If so, it would be wise to ask the sub-contractors the same question.
  6. Do they have any previous clients that can recommend/ give experience of their work?

HSG159 by the Health & Safety Executive is a useful free download for managing and selecting contractors.

If you are unsure about the safety standards of your contractors, it may be best to contact a health and safety specialist to review their work and paperwork and give a professional opinion on whether they are competent for the work they will be undertaking.