'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 qualifi d in health and safety, but are not willing to pay for it, ' said Nichols, speaking ahead of the ICE's 14th Capita Symonds safety lecture.
Nichols was the main speaker at the annual event, which took place at the ICE on 28 September.
Her view is that main contractors often sign up the cheapest subcontractor to do a job, but then end up spending more time managing them because the subcontractor lacks the cessary health and safety expertise.
The lecture, I know my place!
How your supply chain can revitalise health and safety, also aimed to address the attitude of sub contractors working on sites.
Nichols said 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 hosted the lecture, which addressed 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.
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 ulnerable to the work carried out by subcontractors 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 also took part in the discussion.