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Category: Uncategorised

How to avoid debt bondage happening in your supply chain

How to avoid debt bondage and modern slavery happening in your supply chain

The Modern Day Slavery Act implemented by the UK Government in 2015 was welcome news as global leaders fight to out-rule modern slavery. For business here in the UK since the Act was introduced, it has been a learning curve to first understand what is now required to meet legislation, and second to implement a code of conduct and procurement policy that safeguards the future of the business.

Within this learning curve, the nuances of what to look out for in susceptible supply chains have been identified by international groups and charities to help businesses stay compliant. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has identified a number of indicators that constitute forced labour and all of which are covered in the Modern Slavery Act 2015. This includes:

Debt Bondage

While most of the above criteria is self-explanatory, thus making it easier to communicate the Act with your procurement team and suppliers, debt bondage is a relatively new phrase to the industry.

To aid the understanding of debt bondage, the following description from charity Walk Free Foundation should help to explain it further:

“Debt bondage is a worker pledging their labour or the labour of others under their control as security for a debt; when either the real value of the work undertaken is never applied to repayment of the debt, or the length and nature of the work that has to be undertaken is never fully defined or limited.”

To further explain Debt Bondage, the Walk Free Foundation in their report, Tackling Modern Day Slavery in Supply Chains, they used a real case study to explain how this practice works.

In South Asia, where caste-based stratifications still dominate the social landscape, many lower caste families working in the brick kilns are plagued for years, sometimes generations, by languishing debt.

“The initial debt is often incurred through loans from subcontractors which can never be repaid. The debt is then assigned to the entire family and is not nullified even in death. This means children are forced to work or take on the mounting debts of their deceased parents. Debt bondage subjugates entire families to inescapable cycles of poverty and a life of work in the brick kilns across the region.”

What can you do?

This atrocious way of employing workers, of course, needs stamping out. But identifying whether this practice is already in your supply chain can be a hard task. To help businesses out-rule debt bondage and indeed any of the offences under the Modern Day Slavery Act, Corporate Responsibility (CORE) have outlined the key requirements businesses should have to protect themselves, and individuals that may be subjected to modern slavery in their supply chain.

Discover how UK businesses are rising to the modern slavery compliance challenge across their supply chain >


Develop policies

As a basic foundation, businesses should be complying with UN Guiding Principles that clearly the state that policies and processes should be in place to ensure human rights. On top of this, businesses need to map existing policies and codes of conduct and identify the coverage of risks related to modern slavery.

Whilst not every company may not have a specific policy on human rights or slavery, you are likely to have at least some policies in place which these relate to. Ensure the most vulnerable areas of your supply chain include policies where applicable on migrant labour, child labour and child protection policies.

Highlight right to work policies

As a minimum, businesses should adopt procedures and policies that cover the fundamentals as set out by the ILO and Rights at Work scheme. This includes respecting the freedom rights of individuals and allowing them to move in and out of employment freely, without the threat of a penalty.

Your policies should also include information on the intolerance of abusive recruitment practices. These not only increase worker vulnerability, but they have been found to lead to debt bondage and forced labour.

Publish, implement and understand

Policies should then be made publicly available and given to suppliers and contractors. This should be swiftly followed by follow-up communication to ensure your supply chain understands the policies, and that they are adhering to them.

The consequences your businesses supply chain could face, if they don’t comply, should be made very clear in your policies. The seriousness of losing a contract from your business, shows the importance of adhering to policy guidelines.

Reviewing and re-assessing

Following the implementation of the policies, procurement teams should be integrating issues the Modern Day Slavery Act holistically into their working practices. As well as asking new suppliers and contractors to comply to your modern day slavery policies, application forms such as pre-qualification questionnaires (PQQs), and updated information questionnaires from existing suppliers, should include questions on modern slavery.

For those suppliers or procurement professionals that have identified a vulnerability in your supply chain, a whistleblowing and complaints procedure should be put in place, and put in your policy too.

Becoming debt bondage free

This combination of contingency and crisis policies and procedures, as highlighted above, can help to negate the risk of you and your supply chain falling foul of the Modern Day Slavery Act.

Debt bondage, as one of part of the act, is something that we all agree shouldn’t have a place in our supply chains. By implementing this best practice around modern slavery policies, you can ensure that debt bondage is a thing of the past – and your business is assured of legislation compliance too.

New Modern Day Slavery Report released

Discover how UK businesses are rising to the compliance challenge across their supply chain by downloading the inaugural Modern Day Slavery Survey 2017 Report. Featuring key findings from procurement and supply chain professionals such as poor internal policies, failing supply chains, and best practice advice to assure long-term slavery compliance.

What's your supply chain score?

Why subcontractors fail and what to do about it

Why subcontractors fail and what you can do about it

Contract, Facilities, and Procurement managers will know the gut-wrenching feeling when the phone rings from a subcontractor reporting an incident or delay to the project! Some instances cannot be avoided, but you are in a position to negate as many problems as possible by understanding just why some subcontractors fail.

Speaking on leading construction website, For Construction Pros, expert Gary Goldman shared his experiences of three reasons why subcontractors fail. With 20 years’ experience in the landscaping industry, Gary has come across common subcontractor problems that are synonymous throughout all sectors and industries.

Financial barriers

As well as the problems that bad subcontractor cash flow can bring, Gary was quick to talk about the risk of undercapitalisation:

“Money’s not only the root of all evil; it might well be the leading cause of business failures among subcontractors.”

“Far too many underestimate how much money they are going to need, not merely to get the business up and running but also to sustain it as it struggles to gain a commercial foothold. Once you start out undercapitalized, that can start a downward spiral from which you can never catch up.”

Projects and ongoing work require your subcontractors to deliver when you need them. While subcontractors may be eager to cut their costs significantly to win the work from you, you need to ask yourself whether they are risking their own financial health by doing this, potentially leaving you in a bad situation when they fall into administration.

To negate this situation, you should be conducting thorough assessment checks on any new subcontractors. In The Contractor’s Guide to Managing Subcontractor Compliance, the Altius expert team talk about why it’s important to not “shy away” from asking for the financial details of subcontractors to protect you and your client.

Inadequate planning

“Not surprisingly, this is the reason problems like capitalisation and bad cash flow happen in the first place.”

Inadequate planning both in the subcontractor’s business and the projects they work on, can lead to problems. As part of your management procedures, you should be first outlining policies and rules that subcontractors should abide by, before making sure they acknowledge the contracts, controls and restraints the job comes with.

“If you don’t plan and still move ahead, you might end up with heartache and thousands of dollars down the drain.”

Ignoring “the next steps”

While some subcontractors may complete the job successfully first time around, making sure they stay to the same standard on other projects can prove to be an issue too. As a best practice guide, and something that is highlighted further in the new Altius subcontractor guide, you should be using monitoring techniques to keep the quality of workmanship high.

“All members of your staff need to be focused on operating in a proactive manner. This mindset often gets lost in the hustle and bustle of your day-to-day activities. However, it is essential for the growth and continued success of your business.”

Read more about how monitoring behaviour, carrying out on-site and off-site audits, and using KPIs can help achieve greater performance scores from your subcontractors here.

Download the contractor's guide to: managing subcontractor compliance

Step-by-step guide to managing subcontractors effectively

How to manage subcontractors effectively

With big projects, it’s necessary for you to look for extra help, but with it comes extra responsibilities. As a contract manager, you need to manage the project which involves planning, coordination, while remaining in control of the various tasks that take place to complete the project, which can be a lot to handle, on top of daily duties.

If you’re entering into the process of outsourcing part of your project to a subcontractor, there are many details that you need to consider to keep the job on track. So that you don’t run into any unexpected problems, here’s our step-by-step guide to managing subcontractors effectively:

Assess capability

Firstly, can the subcontractor that you’re considering working with actually carry out the job at hand? Do they have the capability to tick every box that you need them to? And have they proven this elsewhere?

Finding the right subcontractor can be a difficult task – especially one that meets the standards of your client, and the industry. Every subcontractor must be authorised by the relevant industry body to carry out the work that they specialise in, not only to give you peace of mind, but also for legal reasons.

By seeking information – such as compliance with industry regulations which verifies that a subcontractor can do what they have signed up for, you can be confident they will fulfil your tasks and bring value to the client.

Define responsibilities

This can be a misconception regarding the process of subcontracting. Sometimes, people believe that if they outsource, or delegate a task, it has stopped being their problem, and therefore their responsibility. This is not the case.

Before signing any agreement with your subcontractor, you must define exactly what your responsibilities and deliveries are to them, and then you must have them define theirs in return.

Even with these agreements in place as part of the contract you hold between yourself and the subcontractor, you must still monitor the project and ensure that everything is running in a timely manner, and in line with the standards that you expect.

Appoint single point of contact

The best way to work successfully with your subcontractor is to have one single point of contact for each project. One from your organisation (or you as the contract manager) and one from the subcontractor. This will help to keep the lines of communication open, and reduce the chance of any misunderstandings from either party.

Try to look at working with subcontractors as a partnership, you’re helping them, and they’re helping you. So ensure that while they provide you complete transparency by sharing all relevant data with you regarding your project, you should give them as much relevant information in return with regards to potential problems, or future plans.

Developing a positive working relationship with your subcontractors could be a great help to you with future projects.

Implement KPIs

While this is a partnership, you still have a job that needs to be done, and your client is expecting a high standard from you. To ensure that this is achieved, and to keep the project on the right track, implement key performance indicators (KPIs) to monitor outcomes, or project milestones on an ongoing basis.

KPIs are extremely useful for detecting any trends – good or bad – and raising the standards once processes are established. The implementation, and monitoring of KPIs should be done simply, and efficiently, and not become a burden to the subcontractors trying to complete your work.

Maintain compliance

Maintaining compliance is key to projects running smoothly, and meeting all legal regulations required. The last thing that you need is to get mid-way through a project, and find out that your subcontractor hasn’t got the right insurance or qualifications for instance. By following the steps laid out in this blog, you’re already well on your way to managing subcontractors effectively, and ensuring that they remain compliant.

For further tips, and advice on how to keep your subcontractors compliant, you should download The contractors guide to managing subcontractor compliancewhich explores common industry problems you’re facing, and how you can resolve them through compliance.

Download the contractor's guide to: managing subcontractor compliance

Expert opinions: 5 common mistakes companies make when managing subcontractors

Subcontractor problems, such as delays and incidents can really hit your projects hard, leading to disgruntled clients and bosses too. Thankfully, these problems are a common occurrence, which means experts from different backgrounds and sectors have their own opinion on what can be done to negate problems before they happen.

Here, we share the opinions of industry experts on five of the most common mistakes companies make when managing subcontractors.

1 – “Having inconsistent processes”

Jay Lash, Vice President of Corporate Development for MBO Partners, is responsible for procurement and HR communities in the organisation. He had his say on how inconsistent processes make for a messy on-boarding process of subcontractors.

“Too many times companies allow other manager and executive leadership to “wing it” when bringing in consultants. Taking the time at the front-end to initiate a thoughtful process that cover the bases will pay off in the long run. Organisations should aim to provide a consistently good experience for the talent, while also protecting the company from potential liabilities.”

2 – “Not having appropriate types and amounts of insurance”

Ron Formanek, CEO of Telecom Solutions Inc, spoke about the importance of checking and managing insurance of subcontractors.

“Being sure they are carrying the appropriate types and amounts of insurance, if they have any at all is important. If not you could end up being liable for it when your own insurance companies audit you at the end of the year.”

3 – “Not creating clear accountability”

Managing Partner with consultancy firm Enshored, Ian Jackson reveals that clear accountability is essential to get the job done and avoid a situation which is frustrating for all parties.

“Everyone must be clear on what their role is and where their responsibilities start and end. You must also not expect more than what you are paying them for. I also believe that you need extra regular communication both one –on-one and with groups of contractors working in the same area to align everyone and deal with the knowledge gaps.”

4 – “Not managing them properly”

Deborah Schroeder-Saulnier is founder and CEO of global management firm Excel Leadership Solutions. Working with a number of Fortune 500 companies Deborah has witnessed big firms simply failing to manage their subcontractors properly.

“Very quickly you can get into schedule delays, missed deadlines, scope creep, cost over-runs, communication issues, role confusion, and much more. Setting the agenda and guiding the experts through a single point of contact, beginning with onboarding, reduces conflict and confusion on several fronts, thereby reducing cost and ensuring greater success in achievement of the respective goals.”

5 – “Not setting clear and measurable goals”

Hamilton Powell, CEO of luxury watch consignment company, Crown & Caliber LLC, pointed out that it is a lack of measured goals that can lead subcontractors astray.

“It is very important to set expectations and relay them to the appropriate parties. The goals and expectations must be realistic and communicated properly. Constant communication is important to ensure that everyone’s expectations and goals are aligning properly. To make sure that these goals are being achieved, it is helpful to set milestones and deadlines. This way, all involved parties can make sure that they are staying on track and are still working toward the correct goals.”

Assessing capability, managing and monitoring

Three problem areas that are prominent in the quotations above are that businesses struggle with assessing subcontractor capability, managing them efficiently, and monitoring their performance after the project.

These three areas, however, which can be explored in more detail in our Managing Subcontractor’s Guide, can be used as a framework alongside compliance to negate problems such as the five highlighted above with subcontractors.

To find out more about how you can help shape a more efficient and compliant set of subcontractors, take a look at the free Altius subcontractor guide here.

Download the contractor's guide to: managing subcontractor compliance

How will you score in our subcontractor questionnaire?

How will you score in our subcontractor questionnaire?

Managing subcontractors brings its own set of challenges to all contract and facilities managers. Whether subcontractors fail to finish their work on time, or they leave you with an incident on site to sort, it means your neck is on the line when something goes wrong.

To see whether you are following the best practice procedures to manage subcontractors correctly, leading supply chain compliance partners, Altius, have created a free subcontractor questionnaire for you to complete.

Self-Assessment Guide

Managing your subcontractors: The Self-Assessment Guide is a 10-minute questionnaire that asks you questions on key subcontractor managements areas, including:

Following the questionnaire, you will be in a position to understand what areas of your current procedures need work, and how you fair against the best practices associated with managing subcontractors according to compliance and health and safety procedures.

Gaining better awareness

Speaking on the publication of the self-assessment, Altius COO and Chief Technical Director Len Simmons, said:

“No matter how many subcontractors managers are responsible for, we’ve noticed that the problems are exactly the same. Unreliable subcontractors bring delays to projects and create a stressful experience for everyone involved.”

“This self-assessment will give those responsible for managing subcontractors, a better awareness of where they could improve their internal procedures to better assess, manage and monitor subcontractors with 10 minutes.”

The interactive PDF document, which has functionality to save and print your answers, is now available as a free downloadable document here.

Download managing your subcontractors: the self-assessment guide

5 things you are responsible for if you’re managing subcontractors

As subcontractors aren’t full-time, or regular employees of your business, it can sometimes be a difficult task to manage their roles and responsibilities, on top of your daily job. But, it’s important that you monitor them as much as you do your own employees, if not more.

Subcontractors are viewed by the client as an extension of the primary contractor, and a failure by the subcontractor can have an adverse effect on the reputation of your company. To make sure that this doesn’t happen, here are five things that you are responsible for when managing subcontractors:

1. Choosing competent subcontractors

As a contract manager, you’re responsible for choosing the right subcontractors, should you decide to use them. And you’re responsible for determining the criteria that they must meet (this will have previously been agreed in your contract with the client).

You must ensure that the subcontractor has experience within the field of work required, and can evidence this with references and/ or project reports. You can also request that they provide you with evidence of qualifications, industry accreditations, ongoing training and health and safety training as part of your pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ).

These details will help you to determine whether or not a contractor is competent, and should be used for your project.

2. Health and safety

While subcontractors have a duty of care to ensure that the worksite their workers are sent to doesn’t pose a risk to their health or safety, it’s not solely their responsibility.

Before each job, you must perform a health and safety assessment to identify hazards and risks that could occur due to the work that will be carried out. Once these are determined, you have to take the necessary measures to reduce, or even eliminate these risks, and provide as safe a working environment as you can.

It is also your responsibility to make sure that any necessary training, or instruction is provided to subcontractors, and that they have in writing, a copy of your risk assessment and details of your health and safety procedures too.

3. Insurance

When discussing insurance for subcontractors, there can be a lot of confusion around whose responsibility it is. There are two types of subcontractors:

Labour only subcontractors (LOSC)

These are classed as employees, and need to be included under your employers’ liability insurance.

Bona Fide subcontractors (BFSCs)

These are not classed as employees, and don’t need to be covered under the liability insurance policy of your employer. However, they do need their own liability insurance, and the level of cover must be the same as the primary contractor’s policy.

It’s your responsibility to determine which category your subcontractor falls into, and which level of insurance they should have. If you’re not suitably covered, it could be the difference between an insurance claim and the end of your business.

4. Quality control

When a client hires your company, they are going to expect you to stand behind your work, even when it has been carried out by a subcontractor. This means that it is necessary to put a quality control process in place, to make sure that work is carried out accurately and will be completed on time.

It is always advised before a project begins to discuss responsibilities and deliverables with subcontractors so that they know what is expected of them, and what they’re waiting for from you. These should always be in writing.

To keep a close eye on the quality of work carried out, set out KPIs with your subcontractors so that you can determine if the project is going in the right direction, and bring it back on track should it start to sway.

5. Compliance

Sometimes subcontractor compliance can be seen as a barrier, with managers asking to see insurance policies, license, references, background checks and more before they can start work. But, it’s the exact opposite.

Now that this level of control and compliance is required, it means that if the worst should happen, your organisation is covered, and they will already have the necessary information that they need.

Looking for more information on maintaining subcontractor compliance? You should download The contractors guide to managing subcontractor compliance, to discover tips about how to manage your subcontractors more effectively.

Download the contractor's guide to: managing subcontractor compliance

10 essential guidelines for hiring contractors


Deciding to outsource work is sometimes necessary for a business, if the job falls outside your realms of expertise for instance. You need to remember that who you’re hiring is representing your business to the client, and that you’re completely responsible for the work carried out, whether you did it, or not.

This means, that you’re responsible for any mistakes, problems, or developments in a project due to their actions. Whoever you hire to represent your business must fit the bill, and adhere to your high standards while excelling in the work that you need done in terms of quality, credibility and liability.

While hiring the right contractor can be a difficult task, it’s not impossible. To make the process a little easier for you, here are 10 essential guidelines for hiring contractors:

1. Ask for evidence of license, and ongoing training

Depending on the nature of the job, it might be necessary for contractors to be accredited by an industry body to carry out the work. If you’re a contractor appointing a sub-contractor, it’s your responsibility to make sure that whoever is working for you, is capable of working safely and has the accreditations needed.

Evidence of ongoing training is also something that you should request as it shows that the contractor is keeping their skills up to date, up to standard, and has the desire to continually improve the work that they do. Ongoing training is a sign of a good contractor!

2. Request references from previous clients

Without references, how do you know that they can do what they say they can? Verifying the information that you have been provided by the contractor through references should always form part of your hiring process. It also helps to see the standard of work that a contractor can deliver, just so that you know they’re capable of carrying out the work on your project.

3. Check that they have the right insurance

Whether the contractor that you hire is bona fide, or labour only, it’s your responsibility to ensure that they have the right level of insurance just in case the worst should happen. In the case of labour only contractors, you need to make sure that your own employer’s liability insurance will cover the work that they’re going to do for you.

4. Ensure they’re health and safety trained

While you’re responsible for providing contractors with a working environment that provides low risk to the health and safety of your contractors, it isn’t only your responsibility. They also have a duty of care to ensure that the worksite they, and their workers are sent to do not pose any risks, and should be trained to carry out relevant health and safety assessments and follow procedures.

5. Find out who exactly is doing the work

Will the contractor you’re hiring do the work themselves? Or will they be hiring a subcontractor to do it? If it’s going to be the latter, you need to be provided details of the criteria that the contractor will use to employ a subcontractor (it should be a repeat of your hiring process) so that you know they’re also up to the job. Remember, you’re the one responsible at the end of the project.

6. Understand what your own responsibilities are

Before work begins, and your contract is signed, you need to define exactly what your responsibilities and deliverables are to the contractor. Whether this be providing them with paperwork, your health and safety procedure, or specific tools they need for the job, you have to understand what the contractor is expecting from you to do their job.

Once defined, ensure they’re added into the contract.

7. Get your contract signed

The contract should cover costs, brands of materials used (or items installed), approximate start and finish dates, a complete set of drawings (if applicable) with written specifications, deliverables expected from each party and responsibilities. A contract can never be too detailed.

8. Appoint a point of contact

It’s much easier to maintain contact with the same person every time you communicate about a job. Having one single point of contact per project ensures that lines of communication are always kept open, and the chances of crossed wires are reduced.

9. Agree KPIs

Monitoring the work carried out by your contractor is a vital part of any project. To ensure that your high standards are achieved, and that the project is kept on the right track, agreeing and implementing KPIs to monitor outcomes is necessary.

10. Remain compliant

Remaining compliant with regulations, and industry standards is the key to making sure that projects can run without a hitch. By following the 10 essential guidelines for hiring contractors in this blog, you’re already part of the way there… If you’d like to learn more about maintaining a level of compliance with your contractors, you should download The contractors guide to managing subcontractor compliance, for helpful tips and advice.

Download the contractor's guide to: managing subcontractor compliance

Top examples of OSHA fines for contractors in 2016

On our blog recently we have talked a lot about the importance of health and safety and ensuring that precautions are taken to create the safest working environment for contractors possible. From health and safety assessments, to training, there’s a lot that can be done to mitigate risk for workers, but what happens when protocol isn’t followed correctly?

Altius’ Managing Director, Gary Plant said:

“Many businesses make the mistake of thinking that ‘it won’t happen to us’. Every business that has experienced an incident wishes they had followed the protocols rather than taking the risk. The consequences are often devastating for the business and the people involved.

The fines are bad enough but the time lost and guilt experienced are usually much worse. Then there’s the reputational damage and cost of rebuilding customer and staff confidence. We’ve seen organisations investigated who have done all the right things, and some that have not and we know whose shoes we’d want to be in!”

Here are the top examples of safety issues OSHA have issued fines to contractors for in 2016, as revealed by the Safety Services Company.

1. Ladders

Number of inspections: 1783

Number of citations: 2362

Total amount fined: £948,817.69

Average fine: £531.74

Working at height can be dangerous if the relevant safety procedures are not set out and followed prior to carrying out the work. In the past ladders have been used where other equipment such as scaffolding would have been more appropriate. Always carry out a risk assessment and assess if the equipment is right for the task at hand and then follow up with control measures such as method statements, PPE and staff training.

2. Aerial lifts

Number of inspections: 1259

Number of citations: 1432

Total amount fined: £921819.49

Average fine: £732.09

Only contractors qualified in the practices of aerial lifts should be involved in any hoisting or lifting operation. Before any lifts begin, all involved parties need to meet to review the plan, which should include a detailed sketch of the process and will act as a visual guide.

3. Fall protection

Number of inspections: 4667

Number of citations: 5148

Total amount fined: £4,127,123.16

Average fine: £883.69

Working at height can be very dangerous, and not taking precautions to protect contractors can mean that you’ll get a hefty fine. OSHA take fall protection seriously, and by not using safe practices, not properly training employees in the use of fall protection equipment, or by not constructing or installing safety equipment – you could be fined, or worse.

4. Specific excavation requirements

Number of inspections: 770

Number of citations: 1362

Total amount fined: £1,238,148.68

Average fine: £1,607.40

Due to the dangerous nature of excavation projects, the risks can change daily, or even hourly. Precautions must always be maintained at an excavation site, and supports or battening must be inspected by a competent person at the start of each working shift, and at other specified times. No work should take place unless the site is safe.

5. General requirements

Number of inspections: 3025
Number of citations: 8147
Total Amount Fined: £5,029,179.26
Average Fine: 1,662.25

The average site is constantly changing for contractors, and with it, so are the risks. With every change, a new health and safety assessment should be conducted to highlight if there are further measures that need to be taken to protect contractors. The extra time it takes to create safe work practices are well worth the effort.

Self-assess your management of contractors

How well are you managing your contractors and their safety? Why not put your management skills to the test and download Managing your subcontractors: A self-assessment guide. The results of this assessment will highlight areas where you will need to pay further attention and offer advice for contractor management.

Download managing your subcontractors: the self-assessment guide

How to ensure the safe working of contractors in three steps


No matter what the job is, or how fast you need it to be completed, health and safety of your contractors is a step that you cannot skip. Organisations that use contractors, or subcontractors have a responsibility under Health and Safety Law to protect them from harm that could be caused by company work activities.

It is your duty of care under health and safety legislation and is non-delegable, meaning that it cannot be passed over to another party. In principle, you owe the same duties to your contractors, as you do your own employees. But, contractors still have their own duty of care to comply with regulations during their time in your workplace.

Here’s three steps to ensuring the safe working of contractors while they’re in your workplace:


When I’m pressed for time it’s easy to rush too quickly into getting someone in to do a job. In my opinion the time I take in planning a job properly is time well spent.’ Engineering manager (Chemical company, employing 45 staff).

Health and safety doesn’t start when the contractor arrives on site. You must plan. The planning step includes defining what the job is, and what you will need your contractors to do, which will then inform your health and safety assessment, highlighting hazards and risks.

You must then work to eliminate or reduce the risks to your contractors, and provide them with any information, instruction or any relevant training that could impact on their health and safety. Once you have specified health and safety conditions, it is a requirement that you record, and discuss them thoroughly with your contractor so that they are aware of all procedures.

It is vital that this process takes place before any work begins on your project.

Choosing a contractor

Choosing a contractor is an important part of ensuring safe working. You need to determine whether a contractor has the skills and the knowledge to carry out the contract to the required standards without any risk to health and safety.

In order to assess whether or not a contractor is competent, you can request that they provide the following:

Only ever use a contractor that you have determined as competent – something you should check as part of your pre-qualifying questionnaire (POQ).

As stated in the introduction, contractors must take positive steps to ensure that the worksite that their workers are sent to does not pose a risk to their health and safety. This might require the contractor to implement their own processes to ensure that their workers don’t carry out work that is unsafe.


The safest system of work will fail without training, instruction or supervision of the personnel involved … supervision of contractors may need to be greater than that for permanent employees if the safe systems devised are to be complied with.” HSE

Even though you have chosen a competent contractor, and planned for their time working for you, your responsibilities don’t stop there. You need to monitor and supervise them.

This can be anything from ensuring that contractors and their workers sign in and out every day, always wear site passes, and have to sign the site rules each day. All contractors must also have a contact person while they’re on site, and make contact with that person each day to inform them of how well the job is going, and whether there are any new hazards or risks that hadn’t been accounted for.

Monitoring contractors is a critical step to controlling your job. Before the contract began, you will have set KPIs, so make sure that you check what is being done, and how, whether the job is going as planned, and is abiding by your health and safety requirements. You need to be aware if there are problems so that changes and arrangements can be made where needed.

Self-assess your contractor management

Do you need to improve any of your procedures or processes for working with contractors? Why not find out by downloading Managing your subcontractors: A self-assessment guide, where you will be asked questions regarding your processes of contractor management.

The self-assessment guide after completion will highlight any areas you need to pay careful attention to, and provide you with advice for making improvements.

Download managing your subcontractors: the self-assessment guide

How compliance can help with managing subcontractors [free guide]

Managing subcontractor compliance free eBook

Subcontractors, or the contractors you employ to help carry out a project on your behalf, are seen by your clients as an extension of you – and when problems begin to occur, it’s your reputation that’s on the line.

As well as suffering from subcontractors delaying projects, failure to trust them enough means you may end up micro-managing them to get the job done, or in a worst case scenario, they create incidents on site.

Free guide to managing subcontractors

Avoiding unnecessary delays and incidents can be tricky if you haven’t got a clear process in place to assess new subcontractors, manage them correctly, and monitor their performance throughout. However, Altius, a leading supply chain compliance partner, has written a new guide designed to help you achieve better results with your subcontractors, through the use of compliance.

The free guide, The Contractor’s Guide to Managing Subcontractor Compliance, introduces three core principles that you can put into your contractor management processes to help mitigate the risks associated with working with subcontractors. This includes tips on:

Assessing subcontractor capability

Unfortunate circumstances where subcontractor’s work has failed to meet the required standards, is not an uncommon scenario. The guide will give tips on the use of bespoke PQQs to assess subcontractors, and what financial information you must collect.

Abiding by regulations and contracts

Not abiding by regulations and contracts can lead to fines and legal implications. The guide will offer advice on what you can do to ensure subcontractors fully understand the job in hand, and why a good IT system is vital to your long-term subcontractor management success.

Ensuring quality workmanship

To ensure consistently high-quality work from subcontractors, the guide covers the importance of key performance indicators (KPIs) as well as audits, and how you can monitor subcontractor behaviour through physical monitoring too.

The guide also includes a chapter on the key laws and regulations as set out by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) that you must have in place. The chapter includes vital web links to legal information too.

To start better structuring the way you’re managing subcontractors, and achieve greater transparency and performance at the same time, download the Altius’ guide to Managing Subcontractor Compliance here.

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