'YOU GET what you pay for, ' is the message from Suzannah Nichols, chief executive of the National Specialist Contractors Council, referring to the way that small contractors are chosen to work on construction projects.
'Main contractors demand a lot in terms of a workforce qualified in health and safety, but are not willing to pay for it, ' said Nichols this week, speaking ahead of the 14th Capita Symonds safety lecture.
Nichols will be the main speaker at the annual event, which will take place this year at the ICE on 28 September.
Her view is that main contractors often sign up the cheapest sub contractor to do a job, but then end up spending more time managing them because the sub contractor lacks the necessary health and safety expertise.
The lecture, I know my place!
How your supply chain can revitalise health and safety, also aims to address the attitude of sub contractors working on sites.
Nichols will explain that when a construction programme is too tight small contractors are the ones who have extra work 'dumped' on them.
'But it's up to the subbie to say we can't do it without compromising safety, ' said Nichols.
Capita Symonds health and safety director Martin Barnard will host the lecture, which will address the differing attitudes to health and safety within the industry. Last year Lord Woolf, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, was the main speaker. In his lecture he blamed senior managers for lapses in safety on construction sites (NCE 14 October 2004).
Barnard said, 'We also recognise that competitiveness is forcing specialist [sub] contractors to cut their costs and health and safety inevitably gets cut.' He added that while everyone in the project team was responsible for health and safety, they would always be most vulnerable to the work carried out by sub contractors under the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations - those who physically carry out the work at height or in confined spaces.
ICE health and safety board chairman John Jeffrey and vice president for engineering John Burland will also take part in the discussion.
To attend contact Suzanne Lynch on (020) 7665 2221 or email: suzanne. lynch@ice. org. uk