A contractor is anyone who directly employs or engages construction workers or manages construction work. Sub-contractors, any individual self-employed worker and businesses that carry out, manage or control construction work all fall under the definition of 'contractor'.
If there is little or no communication between everyone involved in a construction project, hazards can be left unidentified, not assessed and not controlled. There are many examples where a failure to manage and effectively communicate with contractors has resulted in avoidable accidents, incidents of ill health and damage to property.
Besides injury and damage, the consequences can include prosecutions, resulting in considerable fines and, on occasion, custodial sentences for anyone who, in the eyes of the law, has a duty to ensure health and safety – including contractors and those who employ them. Contractors therefore have an important role in managing and monitoring their work to ensure any risks are controlled. They must have the skills, knowledge, experience and, where relevant, the organisational capability to carry out the work safely and without risk to health.
A key theme of the Construction (Design and Management) (CDM) Regulationsis the need for all duty holders to co-operate and co-ordinate their activities. Some of the key actions and responsibilities for relevant duty holders under CDM are highlighted below.