The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: reviewing contractor risk assessments

So, you have a contractor coming to do some work on your premises. You got three quotes, you checked they are insured, and you know you have to get a copy of their risk assessment for the work. But you’re not a builder / tiler / lift maintenance person, so how are you expected to know if they are good, bad or ugly risk assessments?

The bare minimum is that the risk assessment is for your premises and the job you want them to do.

They should then follow the HSE steps to risk assessment:

  1. They have identified the hazards for their work AND you have told them about any hazards in their work area (e.g. asbestos / fragile roof), so they can be incorporated into the risk assessments.
  2. They have identified who might be harmed by the work (e.g. for manual handling will generally be only the contractor, but noise could harm anyone in the area).
  3. They have put in place control measures to stop the hazard hurting the people that might be harmed – including training and supervision.
  4. All of this is written down and shared with you AND the workforce carrying out the work.

You are not expected to be an expert, but you are expected to identify the risks of the job according to your level of knowledge:

  • Common knowledge – any reasonable person would identify a risk e.g.
    • Working on the sloping roof of a tall building
    • Falling into an open cellar

  • Industry knowledge – well-known and understood in the particular industry e.g.
    • Pupils with special educational needs (schools)
    • Unsupported excavation (construction)
    • Faulty guarding on a machine(manufacturing)


  • You should tell the contractor about your industry hazards, and
  • You should apply your common knowledge to check they have identified key hazards and control measures.


Remember to always provide contractors with an induction, keep a copy of the risk assessment (and method statement if required) and if you think something does not look right, question them.

The HSE provide more guidance here. Or, if want any assistance, we can review them on your behalf; contact us on

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