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What to know about safety when working with subcontractors

March 14, 2022 -  By
Crew members going through safety checklist (Photo: Greenius)

Crew members going through safety checklist (Photo: Greenius)

When it comes to subcontracting out work, it’s crucial to keep safety top of mind, according to Sam Steel, Ed.D., safety adviser for the National Association of Landscape Professionals.

Landscape companies must ensure the subcontractor has a good reputation for quality work and has safety programs in place, and is insured for the services they’re providing, Steel says.

To prevent potential injuries, he suggests landscape companies ask for a copy of the subcontractor’s liability and insurance policies and that those policies cover both the subcontractor’s employees and the host company’s employees.

The other important safety element of a subcontractor contract includes spelling out who will provide the personal protective equipment (PPE) and training.

“If you know the hazards and the subcontractor doesn’t, it’s your responsibility as the host employer to provide the PPE to these guest workers or temporary workers brought in by a staffing agency,” Steel says. “Safety training is required by OSHA for workers who are doing jobs where they’re exposed to hazards.”

Steel stresses the need to spell out all safety elements in a written contract, not a verbal one.

“Verbal agreements just don’t make it in court when it comes to who is providing the PPE and the training,” Steel says. “If there’s a serious incident with a subcontractor where a number of workers are hospitalized or if there’s a fatality, there will most likely be an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspection”

For more safety information regarding subcontractors, Steel suggests reviewing OHSA.gov/temporary workers.

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