Is your business supplying contractor services to clients or employing contractors? If the answer is “yes” to either then you will probably have come across the Safe Contractor scheme; but do you know what it means?
In the past it was just a badge that contractors applied for and paid their money to gain accreditation. However times have changed and the scheme now requires far more evidence of health and safety performance; including providing extensive examples of the way you do health and safety.
Only recently we have been asked to get involved with a small contractor who were becoming increasingly frustrated by the scheme and its requirements and were ready to drop out of the scheme. The problem was that a number of their larger clients were ready to drop them off their tender lists if this occurred.
Working with the contractor it was clear they had being doing things the right way and had a very good health and safety record; what they did not have was a person dedicated to health and safety and so found the requirements of the scheme very time consuming and difficult to understand. So does this mean they are a health and safety risk? Clearly no but they found very limited support from the Safe Contractor team; hence their frustrations.
So with the Government looking to deregulate health and safety; especially for small businesses, how do they intend to deal with schemes such as Safe Contractor? Our feelings are they won`t and that this and many other schemes like it will take over where regulation ends (if we are not careful).
But you could argue that from a client’s point of view this can only be a good thing; can`t it? Well, the problem as we see it is that if these schemes fail to provide good support and advice then many contractors may decide to walk away and so competition may be reduced. What we will be left with is just the businesses that can provide the right levels of evidence; which incidentally doesn’t mean they work safely (in some cases).
Thankfully, the contractor that looked to us for assistance only needed a small amount of help and after being pointed in the right direction quickly got the positive result they were looking for and have achieved accreditation.