Managing contractor health and safety

This guidance outlines schools’ health and safety responsibilities involved when engaging contractors working on school property projects.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • Boards
  • Principals and Tumuaki
  • Proprietors
  • Third Party Contractors
  • General Staff/Administrators
  • Teachers and Kaiako
  • Public
  • Health & Safety Officer(s)
  • Worksafe Regulator(s)

The PCBU (Board, Proprietor and Principal) are responsible for the health and safety legal duties that come with the engagement of contractors and providers to carry out work on behalf of the Ministry (EIS) or the Board. They must ensure the health and safety of workers and others affected from the work carried out, and consult, co-operate and co-ordinate activities with other PCBUs where they share a duty on the same matter.


Before engaging a contractor on a school property project, boards and principals need to understand their duties to:

a) Hire qualified workers
b) Comply with documents, contracts and regulations

Contractor requirements

Contractors who are engaged to work on Ministry of Education school construction projects must:

  • have capability in health and safety practices
  • have adequate systems in place to manage health and safety risks.

All contractors must comply with:

  • health and safety documents relating to the site (such as the school’s health and safety policy)
  • health and safety requirements outlined in their contract for work.

More information can be found on the Contracts for construction works and professional services page.

PCBU responsibilities

The PCBU (Board, proprietor and principal) are responsible for the health and safety legal duties that come with the engagement of contractors and providers to carry out work on behalf of the Ministry (EIS) or the board.

They must:

  • ensure the health and safety of workers and others affected from the work carried out as part of conducting the business or undertaking (EIS or School Board)
  • consult, co-operate and co-ordinate activities with other PCBUs where they share a duty on the same matter.

Engaging Contractors — Contractor Prequalification

As part of the hiring process, all contractors must be reviewed in a ‘prequalification’ step. This involves verifying that a contractor has proven ability to undertake health and safety functions.

This is done by:

  • verification of examples of previous site safety plans, or
  • training and competency records.

Prequalification criteria

A prequalification criteria appropriate for building and construction activity has been developed below.

Contractors can provide proof of prequalification through a listed industry provider or directly, through the tender process.

Health & Safety Capability       Verified by                   
Health and safety system in place
  • 3rd party accreditation that aligns with ISO AS/NZS 45001:2018; or AS/NZS 4801:2001.
  • Health & Safety policy and procedures in place.
Site specific safety management
  • Examples of Site Specific Safety Plan (SSSPs) used for previous projects; and/or
  • Health & safety policy and procedures examples that will be relevant for the project involved.
Hazardous work and risk assessment management
  • Examples of Task Analysis (T/As) used for previous projects – or JSAs, SWMs
  • Hazard identification and risk assessment process examples
  • Hazard reporting process in place and used
Incident management
  • Incident register in place
  • Procedures for reporting and investigating incidents
  • Procedures for reviewing investigation findings and applying remedial measures
Site inspection and monitoring
  • Evidence of site inspections undertaken with processes and checklist
  • Evidence of site inspections on previous projects
Hazardous materials management
  • Evidence of hazardous substances register in use
  • Policies and procedures for storage, handling and disposal
Competency and training
  • Competency and training register in place and used
  • Competencies and supporting training identified for specific risks (T/As)
  • Examples and topics of toolbox talks or other site H&S briefings or meetings
Occupational health management
  • Health hazards identified and risks assessed
  • Health monitoring used where required (eg noise level measurement)
Sub-contractor management (if required)
  • System used to induct subcontractors to the site
  • SSSPs or T/As provided by subcontractors and aligned to site SSSP
  • Consultation between PCBUs – site meetings, joint tool box talks, sharing information on hazards

Industry prequalification providers

A number of industry providers offer a prequalification service. To date the following products will provide evidence that the above criteria has been meet:

System Name       Level of Grading (if applicable)        Reference         
PREQUAL   PREQUAL – Impact website(external link)
SiteWise (Site Safe Inc)   Products and Services — SiteWise website(external link)
SHE Pre-Qual   SHE Pre-Qual website(external link)

Site specific safety plans

Site Specific Safety Plans (SSSPs)(external link) are an agreement between multiple PCBU’s working on the same construction site that determines how health and safety will be managed during the project. An SSSP should outline how you will monitor and review health and safety systems and practices to ensure their effectiveness.

The Ministry has produced the guide on contents required for SSSPs relating to construction work on school sites. Ministry-led construction projects require a completed SSSP Contractor Checklist [PDF, 141 KB] to be submitted and reviewed.

As a minimum, your SSSP should include:

A record of consultation, cooperation and coordination

All contractors must ensure that all PCBUs (such as the Ministry, school boards and other contractors/consultants) with a shared health and safety interest consult, cooperate, and coordinate with each other to ensure the health and safety of all involved.

Arrangements must be in place to satisfy this requirement, for example regular Toolbox Meetings, Site Meetings and PCG Meetings.

A site hazard and risk register

Contractors must use site specific hazard and risk registers to record the contractor's activities, procedures, processes or equipment, and must be updated during the work period.

Control hazards and risks by:

  • ensuring the construction zone is completely isolated from school operations with clear delineations (including signage)
  • clearly defining access and egress, with pedestrian and vehicle access separated where possible
  • ensuring vehicles entering and exiting the construction site (including deliveries) don’t impact school operations
  • hosting a pre-start induction meeting that provides contractors with critical information about the job, work area and processes
  • communicating school emergency evacuation procedures to contractors.

Hazardous products and substances register

A hazardous products and substances register must record every product, substance, and material that is brought to, used on or stored on site by the subcontractor.

Safe work procedures

The contractor must provide safe work procedures (also known as task analysis, safe work method statement, or job safety analysis) for higher-risk activities.

Safe work procedures outline how workers will safely carry out a specific task.

As a minimum, the procedures should include:

  • who will be carrying out the task
  • personal protective equipment (PPE) required
  • plant and equipment required
  • steps required to complete the job
  • potential significant hazards beside each step (assess the risks, and focus on what can cause harm and or go wrong)
  • control methods required to eliminate or minimise each hazard and risk.

It should be read, understood and signed by everyone working on the job.

Training and competency register

The training and competency register must show that workers are appropriately trained/experienced and/or competent to complete the tasks which they will be carrying out.

Incident reporting and process

For Ministry-led projects, all contractors must ensure incidents, accidents, injuries and near misses are recorded, reported to the Ministry and investigated.

All incidents, including near-miss events, must be reported to the Ministry.

Health and safety incident reporting on Ministry-led construction projects

For notifiable events, you must notify WorkSafe — WorkSafe NZ website(external link).

Emergency response plan

The emergency response plan must show that procedures are in place and agreed upon between the construction site and the school.

Schools and contractors must be aware of how each other’s operations may impact the other and what process must be followed in the event that one of the PCBUs initiates emergency procedures.

Role of Project Manager in project health and safety 

Project Managers have an important role with influencing health and safety practices across school property projects. The Health & Safety at Work Act puts an emphasis on businesses (PCBUs) effectively working together where they share health and safety duties. School property projects involve multiple parties such as the main contractor, sub-contractors, suppliers, the school and its community.

To assist Project Managers with carrying out the health and safety aspects of their role we have produced a Health and Safety Checklist for External Project Managers [PDF, 821 KB].


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