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What is a Principal Contractor?

What is a Principal Contractor and why are they needed?

Principal Contractor

A principal contractor is the contractor with overall control over the construction phase of a project where more than one contractor is involved. They are appointed by the client and are responsible for planning, managing, monitoring and coordinating health and safety during the construction phase. 

Why are they needed?

The principal contractor will work closely with the client, principal designer and other contractors and are responsible for ensuring health and safety risks are correctly managed during the construction phase.

Multiple contractors working in the same areas with different equipment and machinery can create many potential health and safety hazards. A principal contractor will support in planning and coordinating this work to minimise risks and adhere to the project scope and timescales. 

The principal contractor will ensure other contractors have received the correct training and information for working on-site and that there is effective communication between all relevant parties.

What is required from a Principal Contractor?

A principal contractor must demonstrate that they have the skills, knowledge, experience, and organisational capability to carry out the work they have been appointed for. 

This can include references from previous work, membership in professional bodies and proof of training and development. 

What are the roles and responsibilities? 

The HSE government page lists the following as the main roles and responsibilities of a Principal Contractor (Source HSE)

  • Plan manage, monitor and coordinate the entire construction phase
  • Take account of the health and safety risks to everyone affected by the work (including members of the public) in planning and managing the measures needed to control them
  • Liaise with the client and principal designer for the duration of the project to ensure that all risks are effectively managed
  • Prepare a written construction phase plan (PDF) before the construction phase begins, implement, and then regularly review and revise it to make sure it remains fit for purpose
  • Have ongoing arrangements in place for managing health and safety throughout the construction phase
  • Consult and engage with workers about their health, safety and welfare
  • Ensure suitable welfare facilities are provided from the start and maintained throughout the construction phase
  • Check that  anyone they appoint has the skills, knowledge, experience and, where relevant, the organisational capability to carry out their work safely and without risk to health
  • Ensure all workers have site-specific inductions, and any further information and training they need
  • Take steps to prevent unauthorised access to the site
  • Liaise with the principal designer to share any information relevant to the planning, management, monitoring and coordination of the pre-construction phase
How can WSP Engineering help?

We have successfully undertaken numerous projects as a principal contractor with our experienced and diverse team.

We believe that the success of any project starts with the people involved and their mindsets, attitudes and communication skills. The development programmes that all members of our team undertake not only focus on their technical knowledge but their people and business skills as well. 

This approach ensures that as principal contractors, we can effectively manage and communicate with contractors and build great working relationships with our clients and their teams.

To learn more about what we do or to get in touch, follow the links below.

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