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Revealed: The ten key differences between the Sub-Contractors' and Principal Contractor's health and safety responsibilities

by , 27 May 2014
You've appointed a Principal Contractor and they, in turn, have appointed a sub-contractor. They're about to begin the build and you realise you're unsure of their health and safety responsibilities.

You need to know what they're supposed to do so you can ensure they're doing it properly.

And that's why today we're removing the confusion around this. Read on to discover the different responsibilities of your Principal Contract and Sub-Contractor.

Your 1 527 health and safety duties as an employer
When was the last time you checked what disinfecting agents and cleaning materials your company uses? 
Do you comply with the Hazardous Chemical Regulations? 
There are over 1 500 items you must evaluate in your workplace according to the OHS Act and hundreds more from SABS 0400: National Building regulations. 

Here are your principal contractor's health and safety responsibilities 

You'll hire the Principal Contractor directly to oversee a building project. The Health and Safety Advisor says their health and safety responsibilities say they must:
- Give the sub-contractors the health and safety specifications to prepare;
- Appoint the sub-contractors in writing;
- Ensure all construction employees follow the sub-contractor's health and safety plan on site;
- Stop any work that's a health and safety risk;
- Tell the sub-contractor about any changes they make to the safety programme;
- Ensure all sub-contractors are registered with the Compensation Fund; and
- Ensure all sub-contractors have provisions for health and safety requirements.
Your sub-contractor, on the other hand, only has these three main responsibilities.
Is your site compliant with the new Construction Regulations 2014?

The sub-contractors health and safety responsibilities 

Your Principal Contractor hires the sub-contractors to do the actually construction work. Their duties say they must:
- Give your Principal Contractor their fully documented health and safety plan;
- Provide a plan, discuss it with and have it approved by the Principal Contractor; and
- Have a copy of their plan on site that outlines the safe work procedures.
There you have it. If you employ a Principal Contractor and a sub-contractor, it's up to you to ensure they're both fulfilling their health and safety responsibilities. It's the only way to keep your building site free from accidents. 

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