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 (TPHM) 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 (TPHM) 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 (TPHM 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) [PDF, 116 KB] describe how works will be done on a specific site without exposing workers and others to health and safety risks. SSSP procedures and documents should align with the PCBU’s overall health and safety management system.

The Ministry needs to ensure that contractors working within school environments are effectively managing hazards and risks arising from the works. As such, the Ministry has minimum requirements for SSSP content on Ministry-led construction projects [PDF, 116 KB]. Contractors must ensure that their SSSPs meet these minimum requirements and provide assurance via an SSSP Contractor assurance declaration checklist [PDF, 161 KB] to be submitted with the SSSP for review by the Ministry. 

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.

Construction Works Isolation Guidelines

The Construction Works Isolation Guidelines [PDF, 53 KB] is a document that outlines the Ministry’s expectations when it comes to providing assurance that the interface, and on-going interaction, between construction works and school activities are sufficiently managed. This is to minimise the students, staff and visitors’ exposure to construction-related hazards and associated risks.

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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