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Five Tips for Hiring a Contractor in the Food and Drink Industry

16 July 2018

When hiring a contractor to work in your organisation, there is always an element of risk. The hiring process opens your business up to a wealth of risks; after all, you’re trusting someone to carry out work on behalf of your company. However, there are steps you can take to ensure that you hire the right contractor for your industry and, in turn, avoid problems from occurring within your supply chain. 

Loss of revenue, reputational damage and delayed cash flows are just a few of the consequences that can arise from choosing an incompetent contractor, which is why the HSE places emphasis on the importance of hiring a capable contractor.

Before appointing a contractor to perform construction, maintenance or other work, you should consider the following five tips.?

1. Check references: It’s essential to check a contractor’s references before hiring them. By doing so, you’ll be able to make good judgement on whether they are suitable for the job. If, for example, a contractor has no previous experience of undertaking work in the food and drink industry, you may want to consider if you are happy to hire them over someone who regularly completes work in this field. Always ask contractors for three recent references to gain valuable insight into their experience.

2. Review qualifications: Contractors can demonstrate competency prior to carrying out work by providing relevant certificates and qualifications. There are a range of qualifications that are advisable, or desirable, depending on the work activity the contractor will be carrying out; find out if your potential contractor has these qualifications and ask for proof if you feel it necessary.

3. Request health and safety procedures and documentation. Carry out a pre-assessment on your contractors. It is essential to check that a contractor has the correct health and safety paperwork in place. Ask for copies of their policies, procedures, training records and examples of risk assessments as a measure of their commitment to safe working practices. If a contractor has five or more employees, it is a legal requirement that they have a written health and safety policy, so make sure this is in place.? 

4. Ask if they will be using subcontractors. If they are, you need to ask how they will be determining their subcontractors’ competence. Your contractor may pass all your pre-assessment checks with flying colours, but if they appoint an unsafe subcontractor you could still be culpable. Your contractors should be carrying out a pre-assessment process on their subcontractors, similar to the one you carry out on them.? 

5. Take their insurance details. Make sure the contractor has all the required insurances, including public liability, employer’s liability and professional indemnity. This helps ensure that any large legal bills won’t end up on your desk instead of theirs.? ?

By following these steps, you can be assured that you are hiring a capable contractor and complying with your legal responsibilities. Remember though, your responsibility doesn’t end once a contractor has been appointed – you must also monitor them throughout the project to ensure they are complying with their legal duties.

For more information on how to manage your contractors, download our latest whitepaper; Mitigating contractor risk in the food & drink industry.

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