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Managing contractors

Permit to Work

What are Permits to Work used for?

A method statement is a useful way of recording the hazards involved in specific   higer risk activities and communicating the risk and precautions required to all those involved in the work.


The statement need be no longer than necessary and should cover the hazards associated with the task and the necessary control measures


The method statement should be clear, take into account results of risk assessments and can be illustrated by simple sketches where necessary.


Avoid ambiguities or generalisations, which could lead to confusion. Statements are for the benefit of those carrying out the work their immediate supervisors and are also a useful measure of providing information for employees about how a particular task  or activity is carried out.


Method Statements can be drawn up in a variety of formats click for an example of a Method Statement Template  



Equipment needed for safe working should also be clearly identified and available before work starts. Employees should know what to do if the work method needs to be changed

I am thinking about engaging a contractor for a building project. What are my responsibilites as the client?

For construction projects a contractor is any person who, in the course or furtherance of a business, carries out or manages construction work.


A client is anyone who is having construction or building work carried out including  domestic works.


Clients have duties that apply to any business that seeks or accepts the services of architects, builders or workers to carry out construction project work.

For all projects, clients should look to their designers and contractors to be proactive in

demonstrating their competence. Good suppliers will be readily able to do this.


In many cases, clients will not know enough to assess the adequacy of competent staff and their organisation, how long works will take and the appropriate approach to managing risks.


Clients should also seek assistance from their ‘competent safety advice’ to support them with this requirement.

When does the HSE have to be notified of my building project?

If you are undertaking a project that:


  • will last more than 30 days with 20 persons or more working at the same time

  • or involve more than 500 person days


Then an F10 form needs to be completed. This is a legal requirement under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015.  An F10 now needs to be filled in for domestic projects.


Responsibility for carrying out the notifications rests with the client. In practice, the client may request someone such as the Principal Contactor or Principal Designer to do this on their behalf.


Principal designers have an important role in influencing how risks to health and safety are managed throughout a project.


They are appointed by the client to take control of the pre-construction phase of any project involving more than one contractor and have an important role in influencing how risks to health and safety are managed throughout a project.


The Principal contractor is also responsible  for drawing up a plan explaining how health and safety risks will be managed.

If you don’t appoint a principal designer or principal contractor you can still be held responsible for the things that they should have done.


Even if if your project doesn't fall within the scope of being notifiable the requirements of CDM still apply.


Regardless of project type or whether the project is notifiable or not, the client should always ensure they have access to competent health and safety advice.

If you need assistance in dealing with contractors whether it is assessing their competency, ensuring they manage their risks or designing Permit to Work systems, creating contractor policies and site rules - can supply the neccessary competent advice.


Contact for an initial  free consultation.

Health & Safety Consultancy, Information & Management

Permits to Work are used for higher risk activities which are recognised as potentially hazardous these can include:



A Permit to Work procedure aims to ensure that proper consideration is given to the risks of a particular job and that these are dealt with before work starts.  Essential features of permit-to-work procedures are:

  • Working at Height

  • Working on or around asbestos

  • Hot works

  • Entry into a confined space

  • Working on certain electrical systems

  • Working on pipelines and pressure apparatus

  • Working near or involving explosives or highly flammable substance

  • Clear definitions as to who may authorise particular jobs, who is responsible for specifying the necessary precautions and who is responsible for actioning the work

  • Training and instruction in the issue of permits

  • Monitoring to ensure that the system works as intended


The Permit to Work is a form of declaration authorised by the person in charge of the work, for the purpose of making known to other persons exactly what work is being carried out, where and when, and what safety precautions have been taken.


A Permit to Work is not just simply permission to carry out a potentially hazardous job but is an essential part of a procedure which provides instructions on how the job can be carried out safely.  The issue of a permit does not, by itself, make a job safe.  

A competent safety practitioner will be able to focus on key issues, assess individuals and companies to ensure:

  • their basic understanding of the risks in construction and how these are controlled

  • that they have sufficient knowledge of the tasks to be undertaken and the risks which the work will entail

  • that their experience and ability to carry out duties is based upon clear evidence which relates to projects of similar size and scope

  • a recognition of their limitations and take action to prevent harm to those carrying out construction work, or those affected by construction work

A contractor is anyone brought in by a client to work at their premises who is not an employee of the client.


A client can be any employer in the public or private sector including partnerships and sole traders who use contractors.


In many cases if a client engages a contractor to carry out a task it will involve  a higher risk activitity that is normally beyond the scope of the organisations normal expertise.


The level of risk will depend on the nature of the job but whatever the risk, you as the client will need to consider the health and safety implications of the job in hand.


This will involve selecting someone suitable to do the job, assessing the risks, deciding what information, instruction, training is required  and the level of management, co-ordination and supervision needed.


Permits to Work processes and Method Statements can play an important part in ensuring that risks posed by contractors are managed satisfactorily

Key Message

What are Method Statements

Why am I required to obtain  ‘competent safety advice’

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