Although there are many reasons for using contractors, there are also some disadvantages, including unfamiliarity of the contractor with the employer's business, management systems, procedures, work processes, premises, and plant and equipment.
The principles of effective management of contract staff are effectively the same whether the organization (referred to as the client) uses one individual or a variety of different contract organizations. It should be remembered, however, that self-employed contractors and contractors working for small organizations may be less aware of health and safety.
A common misconception: There is a common, but flawed, belief that appointing a contractor absolves the client from responsibility for the health and safety of that contracted work. Managers, Directors and VPs within organizations can be heard to voice the opinion: "they are the experts in what they do; surely all of the health and safety is down to them to sort out". This thinking may cost lives, business, profit and bad publicity.
Work carried out for a company, such as the work of a contractor, was still regarded as a part of their undertaking and so they retain a duty of care even when the work has been contracted out.
A better understanding of the position: Work undertaken for a client by a contractor is covered by a civil contract. It is good practice for health and safety requirements to be written in to such a contract. Health and safety responsibilities, however, are defined by the criminal law and they cannot be passed on from one party to another by a contract. In a client/contractor relationship, both parties will have duties under health and safety law. Similarly, if the contractor employs sub-contractors to carry out some or all of the work, all parties will have some health and safety responsibilities. The extent of the responsibilities of each party will depend on the circumstances.
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