What are your health and safety responsibilities when hiring a self-employed contractor?
Being an entrepreneur, you may wish to oversee construction work either in your home or office. Whether it’s the creation of your own home office, or it’s the refresh of your work space – you may opt to hire a self-employed handyman to keep costs down.
While there is nothing to suggest that you should not engage a self-employed contractor for your home improvement or small office improvement needs, you must be aware of the health and safety responsibilities you have when doing so. If you don’t have a health and safety officer to advice on these things, you may not be aware of what you need to do.
In the UK, it is illegal to use asbestos in any new construction work, as many more people engage mesothelioma solicitors for asbestos related cancer compensation. Although it is illegal to use now, it is still present in many buildings built before the law came into effect. If you know that the building that you’re having work done on has asbestos, you are legally required to inform anybody doing any construction work for you.
If you provide the equipment (e.g. ladders, face masks) and the equipment fails, that is your responsibility, if the person can prove that they did not adjust the equipment provided in anyway. However, a self-employed contractor should bring their own equipment, which they would be responsible for.
As an example, if you informed a contractor of the presence of asbestos before work began, Greenfield Removals offer safe asbestos removal and you agreed that the contractor would provide their own equipment, if they did not wear the appropriate PPE for the job, that would be their responsibility.
However, if you were to provide a face mask that failed to protect the worker, that could possibly be your liability and you could be responsible for their illness. A mass tort case may be filed against you if you have endangered your workers by being exposed to asbestos.
You can take out public liability insurance if you are concerned about a claim being made against you, although solicitors in the UK are reluctant to pursue legal action against individuals without insurance. If it is an office space though, it may be worth getting public liability insurance to cover any members of the public who may enter the space (e.g. clients).