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Construction Contractor

Last updated: December 14, 2021

What Does Construction Contractor Mean?

A construction contractor is a firm or an individual that completes construction projects on a contractual basis.

The contractor is hired directly by builders or third-party employers to provide independent professional services. These services are typically rendered as part of a per-project contractual agreement with the hiring firm, or through an agreement to provide a specific service for a given duration of time.

Safeopedia Explains Construction Contractor

Construction contractors allow the hiring firm to procure workers who have the skills to safely carry out and complete specialized work. The hiring firm may need contractors in order to compensate for their lack the expertise or manpower.

Firms classified as construction contractors can include single-person businesses, small firms, and multinational firms in the “engineering, procurement, and construction” (EPC) industry.

The General Contractor

One of the key figures in a complex construction project will be the general contractor. This is the contractor responsible for hiring any necessary subcontractors and coordinating the services they provide.

General contractors are sometimes also known as prime contractors, main contractors, or principal contractors.

Contractor Safety

Construction is a high-hazard industry that carries a higher incidence of injuries and fatalities when compared to most other industries. This is such a major concern for employers that contractors will often use their safety record as a prominent selling point.

The use of contractors often results in complicated employment relationships. The jobsite can host the builder's employees, the contractors that the builder has hired, and the subcontractor that those contractors have hired in turn.

When safety incidents involve contractors, the responsibility and liability for them generally falls on joint parties. When construction contractors are involved, both the hiring firm and the contractor bear responsibility. In the case of incidents involving subcontractors, the responsibility falls on the subcontractor and the general contractor responsible for hiring them.

Benefits and Risks

When it comes to workplace safety, hiring construction contractors presents both benefits and risks.

On the one hand, entrusting the work to competent contractors can ensure that it is carried out by well-trained workers who can carry out the work safely and may be more likely to complete it on schedule.

On the other hand, contracting workers means bringing people on the job site who are not directly under the builder's control. While employers should do their due diligence in hiring contractors, it is ultimately the general contractor that selects the subcontractors who will do some of the work.

Legal Liability

Project owners may transfer significant liability for safety risk to a general construction contractor - so long as they exercised sufficient due diligence when fielding prospective contractors.

Prime contractors are responsible for work outlined in their contract and for the work they delegate to subcontractors. They will also be held liable for accidents that occur in the work overseen by them. All subcontractors also retain some level of responsibility for the safety of their own workers even after the client has hired their firm.

Although both employers and contractors may face fines, charges, and lawsuits due to injury or death stemming from unsafe practices, violations are more likely to target the employer or general contractor. They hold direct responsibility for ensuring that all on-site workers comply with applicable safety legislation.



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