Using a Contractor on your premises in South Africa



Most work conducted, despite the industry, will require the specialised services of a contractor. Many employers may be unsure as to the process involved in using a contractor on their premises, specifically in South Africa.

It is for this reason that the information below serves as a guide associated with the processes and certain requirements from both employers and contractors.


The Responsibilities of the Employer and Contractor

Both the employers and the contractors have responsibilities under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (85 of 1993). Each participant in the workplace must take the necessary steps to reduce risks in the workplace and to prevent it from posing a danger to employees and the public.

Each participant must understand their role in the organisation with regards to health and safety.

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Job Identification

All the aspects relating to the work which must be done by the contractors must be identified. The health and safety implications that the work may have must be considered, with the level of risk depending on both the nature and complexity of the work.

The employers must provide potential contractors with this information and ensure that they understand the performance expected of them. This information may be included in the job specification.


Contractor Selection

The employer must ensure that they select a contractor that can do the work properly, safely and without causing risks to the health of employees. This involves enquiring about the competence of the contractors, whether they have the necessary skills, experience, and knowledge.

The degree of competence required solely depends on the work to be performed. In addition, the level of enquiries made by the employer will be determined by the level of risk and complexity involved with the work.

Some of the questions that the employer could consider asking a potential contractor includes but is not limited to:

  • What arrangements will be made for the work?
  • Will the contractors be using subcontractors and, should they do so, how will the contractor ensure their subcontractor’s competency?
  • What are the contractor's most recent health and safety performance?
  • Does the contractor have a documented health and safety policy?
  • Can the contractor provide existing risk assessments which were conducted for similar work?
  • What qualifications, skills, and experience do the contractors have in this type of work?
  • What health and safety information and training does the contractor provide for its employees?
  • If required, does the contractor possess Employers’ Liability Compulsory Insurance?


Questions such as these will help the employers identify whether the contractors comply with their duties under health and safety law. After this, the employer can decide how much evidence they will need to support what the contractor claims.

Additional questions that the employer may ask to help them decide on a contractor includes:

  • Does the contractor have any independent assessment associated with their competence?
  • Is the contractor a member of a trade association or professional body?
  • Will the contractor produce a safety method statement for the work?


Risk Assessments

The client together with their contractor must consider the following regarding the work planned:

  • What is there that can or has the potential to harm people?
  • Who may be harmed and how can it occur?
  • How can these risks be controlled, mitigated, reduced, or eliminated?

There should already be an existing risk assessment for the work activities of the organisation. This risk assessment must cover risks to contractors from the organisation’s activities. 

The contractors must assess risks associated with the contractual work and along with the client, consider risks from either or both work activities that could affect the health and safety of the employees or anyone else.

The employer must consider any risks to their own employees and members of the public as they will have contractors in their workplace. The employer must also ensure that they agree with the measures needed to control the risk along with the contractor before work begins.


Provision of Information, Instruction, and Training

There is communication needed between both the employer and the contractor throughout the entire process. The contractor along with their employees must be informed about:

  • Risks relating to health and safety that they may encounter.
  • The measures which are in place to deal with such risks, and
  • The emergency procedures.

The information provided by the employer must be in a format which is clearly and easily understood by everyone. Clear instructions, information and adequate training must also be provided in the same manner for the employer’s own employees.


Cooperation and Coordination with the Contractors

The employers and the contractors must work together, and activities must be coordinated. This must be done so that work can be performed safely and that risks to health can be avoided. One of the best ways in which this can be done, is by meeting regularly throughout the project duration.

The level of both cooperation and coordination between the employer and contractor will depend on the following:

  • The work to be performed.
  • The number of contractors or subcontractors that are involved, and
  • The risks which are involved.


Consultation with the Workforce

The employer must consult with their own employees regarding health and safety matters. By making workers a part of the process, the employer is put in a position where they can make more informed decisions on actual risks and the measures needed to control them.

Employers can consult with their employees in the process on the following aspects:

  • How the work of the contractors will affect their health and safety.
  • Information as well as training.
  • Ensuring that the employees know how they could raise any concerns that they may have regarding the contractors and their work.

Using a Contractor on your premises in South Africa

Management and Supervision of the Work

Employers must ensure that they can manage the work that contractors do effectively. The measures that applied must be consistent with the level of risk. The following serve as perfect considerations:

  • Who will take responsibility for the work and what are they expected to do?
  • Who will oversee the supervision and how will it be done?
  • How will the work be done and what are the precautions that must be taken?
  • What equipment should or should not be work on or used?
  • What personal protective equipment must be used and who is responsible to provide it?
  • What are the working procedures?
  • What are the arrangements should the work be stopped should there be serious health and safety concerns?


Once the work has started, the employer must ensure that they weigh the progress of the work against what has been agreed between them and the contractors. This can be done either through regular inspections or investigations, in cases where things have gone wrong and an incident has occurred.

Once the work is completed, there are numerous benefits involved in conducting reviews. It allows for the employer to learn from the lessons that presented themselves to see how performance can be improved in future.


How can SafetyWallet help Employers and Contractors’ Health and Safety Compliance?

SafetyWallet works to ensure that its subscribers are supported and assisted in all matters relating to health and safety, and through a partnership with MAKROSAFE and OHS Online, subscribers can ensure that they are a part in creating a safer, healthier, and more compliant working environment. To find out how you can ensure employer and contractor’s Health and Safety compliance, click here.

Posted date: 28th Feb 2021