Due diligence, In health and safety management terms, means doing background checks. Principal Contractors must appoint sub-contractors holding the “skills, knowledge and experience, and if they are an organisation, capability necessary to fulfil that role.”
The definition is taken from Regulation 8(i) of the CDM (Construction, Design and Management) Regulations 2015.
A Principal Contractor has a legal duty to ensure the subcontractors they appoint meet this standard. This process is called undertaking due diligence. You are probably familiar with the term PQQ, or pre-qualification questionnaire. This is how your clients are meeting their due diligence duty placed upon them. They are asking you to complete a questionnaire and provide evidence to ensure they are undertaking due diligence to a standard that will provide a defence in court.
Ask for copies of training certificates. CSCS cards can be checked with the CITB to ensure they are not fakes. A training matrix is great to see the operatives training at a glance. This is useful for work programming as well as ensuring your health and safety due diligence is done.
Have you subcontractors operatives had general health and safety training? A certificate for construction site safety, working safely or Level 1 Site Safety would suffice. Some subcontractors would require additional safety training, such as plant operators licences or scaffolding qualifications to a certain level. Site Supervisors, usually employed by Groundworkers, should hold the CITB SSSTS qualification, and Site Managers, the CITB SMSTS qualification.
Example risk assessments and method statements should also be obtained as part of your due diligence. The two documents will tell you a great deal of information. Are the works sequenced correctly and is everything in there? An experienced tradesperson will know every element of the job and which order to do it in. They will train their operatives in this way. Have they identified the risks that the job presents? If they have and the control measures are appropriate, they have demonstrated they have the knowledge of how to do the job safely.
Again, it’s back to training. If every subcontractor has the basic level of qualification, it must be asked how long they have been practicing their trade. A company of newly qualified tradespeople could have all the experience in the world but it would be prudent to have a few “grandfathers”. These are people who have years in the business and experience to impart on their younger colleagues.
Send out Pre-Qualification Questionnaires to potential subcontractors and check each element is compliant before considering their appointment.
Read more about what a Pre-Qualification Questionnaire should include.