Lawrence Webster Forrest (LWF), Fire Engineering and Fire Risk Management Consultants
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E-mail: fire@lwf.co.uk

MS EB 8 Management and Control of Contractors

What is a ‘contractor’?
A contractor is any person or orgainisation who carries out a trade or business to provide or manage works on behalf of the organisation that hires them.  

There are two types of contractors – ‘term’ and ‘casual’. Term contractors are those who have made formal contractual agreements with their client (the organisation they work
for) with associated service-level agreements. Casual contractors are engaged on a more informal basis.

The activities of casual contractors can be very broad in nature, and vary in time from very short to medium term. Where the formal process (term contractors) is impracticable, an appointed member of staff with appropriate devolved responsibility must ensure that contractor’s work is risk-assessed and recorded, and that the he or she is made aware of any hazards associated with their work.

The level of supervision must be appropriate to the level of risk, and the skills of the casuals, in order to implement and maintain a robust Fire Safety Management System (FSMS).

Fire Safety Management System procedures
Procedures for controlling and managing contractors are an essential part of a robust Fire Safety Management System (FSMS).

The FSMS should consist of a ‘controlled’ fire safety policy, with supporting headline procedure documents that should apply to all areas in a premises. These inclusions ultimately assist in creating a robust Fire Safety Management System. They also help to identify fire risks and organisational deficiencies.

The purpose of developing and maintaining this type of fire safety procedure is to demonstrate and define the generic responsibilities for enforcement, application and implementation of all works conducted by contractors while employed on site.  The presence of contractors can very often introduce an additional level of fire hazard and risk, simply because of the work theydo.  It is therefore essential that their actions are adequetly managed and monitored, expecially in large organisations.   

The employing organisation’s responsibilities
Every organisation (or person with delegated responsibility for a premises) must ensure that reasonable measures for the safety of occupants are in place at all times. This includes members of staff who are not fulltime employees of the organisation, such as contractors, consultants and volunteers. Contractors can pose a high risk in terms of fire safety if they are not advised of rules, regulations, legislation and other specific guidance that may apply. Contractors starting work on a premises should also always be monitored to ensure that they are following accepted safe working procedures.

Procedural requirements for managing and controlling contractors
What information and guidance should the procedure contain?
A procedure for management and control of contractors should include (but not be limited by) the following:
• Ensure that fire safety has a clear priority in the tender and selection process.
• Create and maintain a register of all contractors (Approved Contractors List – ACL) who have demonstrated good working standards whileengaged by the organisation.
• Identify fire hazards associated with proposed or current contract activities, before allowing the contractor to begin work.
• Ensure that clear fire-safety requirements and guidance are
included in the contractual documentation.
• Ensure that method statements are to a standard that enables fire safety objectives to be identified.
• Ensure that fire-risk assessments are to a standard not less than that required by the employing organisation, for allproposed and current operations.
• Identify any activity that falls outsidefire safety procedures defined by the organisation.
• Undertake regular fire-safety meetings with the contractor to review performance standards and monitor fire safety training; and
• Ensure that detailed fire-safety roles and responsibilities for employees with devolved duties for managing contractors are outlined, maintained and implemented.

Procedure for management and control Listed below are steps that should be taken prior to, and during, hiring contractors while working on any premises.

Before any work begins, an appointed member or staff with designated fire safety roles (for supervising contractors) should work with each contractor to identify hazards associated with the proposed activity (fire drills, fire arrangement, hot works, escape routes and so on).

Detailed fire risk assessments should be undertaken by the appointed member of staff.  At this point, the organisation, through this procedure, (Control and Management of Contractors) should be satisfied with the standard of fire safety management and training proposed by the Contractor prior to the letting of contracts.

Where contracts already exist, an audit of their conditions should be undertaken by a qualified member of staff who bears devolved fire safety/management responsibility for contractors and their activities.

With all contracts, senior managers should arrange both pre-contract and in-contract meetings, at which all issues associated with fire safety compliance are discussed. These reviews may form part of overall progress meetings, but the outcome should be recorded and retained in the contract/fire-safety file.

The contractor should be represented by his/her appointed Fire Safety Officer. Minutes of all meetings should be taken, sent to all those involved, and a copy filed by the client. Operations not covered by the organisation’s fire safety procedures should be documented, in association with the contractor, and agreed
with senior staff. The contractor should provide comprehensive method statements for all activities. The client should then review these for suitability and accuracy.

A register of all contractors must be maintained by the organisation. This register will list all contractors on site at any given time, including time-in and time-out.

It is of fundamental importance that contractors and sub-contractors are aware of the risks associated with their work, and appreciate the need for adopting safety standards set by the client organisation. For this reason, contractors should only be selected from an Approved Contractors List (ACL).

An ACL is a list of contractors who have been selected for having appropriate Fire Safety Management Systems. Any such system should be adopted by the organisation to ensure that level of quality and safety will be carried out in all areas of work conducted by contractors.

Contractors may need to conduct ‘hot work’. In this case, all permits, policies and procedures must be clear and agreed by the contractor and the contractor’s sponsoring member of staff before any hot work begins.

Hot work requirements
What conditions do contractors have to satisfy to obtain a Hot Work Permit?
When contractors need to carry out hot work they should obtain a Hot Works Permit. This should state the category of Hazard Operation (Category I, II, and so on), the nature of the
activity and its location. The permit will then be issued to the contractor to allow a specific process to be carried out in the designated area over the course of a specified period of
time.

A separate permit is required for each operation of this kind on every occasion when it is carried out, and on every day.

The contractor’s site supervisor or sponsoring member is required to sign each permit issued to the contractor. Signing the permit indicates that the contractor has read and understood all relevant fire safety documentation and will
comply with the conditions outlined.

Furthermore, the contractor’s signature implies that the method of work being undertaken is acceptable, as occasionally hot
works are conducted using unnecessary techniques.

The contractor’s employees (where applicable) should be briefed on the client’s process for conducting hot works, by the
contractor on arrival at the site and before work begins.

The site supervisor or sponsoring member must ensure that the contractor’s work is supervised during the course of hot works.
He/she should visit the site regularly to certify that the area is kept clear and safe at all times before signing the permit.

Conclusion
A Management and Control of Contractors procedure should define the devolved fire safety roles and responsibilities of those with specific duties for monitoring works performed by contractors.

The procedure should detail the process of employing contractors to work on a premises by ensuring that selection will be via an Approved Contractors List (ACL). Firms selected from the ACL will assist the organisation to prevent unwanted hazards or risks to contractors themselves and/or client
members of staff.

The procedure document should further outline the requirements for contractors to conduct ‘hot works’ on a premises through a Hot works Permit. This must be obtained
before work any such work begins. In short, the implemented procedure should set high standards to which contractors must
work, and help to prevent any unwanted accidents or incidents that may be caused due as a result of employing contractors on a site.

Overall, introducing, implementing and monitoring a procedure outlining control and management of contractors will assist
organisations and employers to maintain a safe and responsible system for all occupants in their facility.

LWF provide unique and strategic fire engineering and fire safety management solutions for all fire safety risks. We can
provide fire safety management systems, including emergency evacuation procedures, for all building uses and occupancies.


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