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Subcontracting tree surgery work

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Selecting a subcontractor

You first need to clearly identify all aspects of the work to make sure you find a suitable person for the job. Consider how both parties will work and how to coordinate the work as well as any instructions or training required.

Tree surgeons should also make sure that the contractors are competent and have sufficient experience, knowledge and skills to complete the job to their standard of quality and without any risks to health and safety. How you check competence is up to you but here are some things you could ask:

  • Their qualifications and skills
  • Their experience in the type of work needed
  • Their health and safety policies and practices
  • Recent health and safety performance (accidents, injuries, etc)
  • Membership of any relevant trade or professional body

Tree surgeons can decide the best way of managing and supervising the subcontractor. Generally, the higher the health and safety risks, the more important it will be to manage and supervise your subcontractor. A few things you could consider are:

  • Equipment to be used
  • Personal protective equipment to be used (and who will provide it)
  • Working procedures
  • Number of people needed to do the job

Tree surgeons might want to involve their clients in the process and make sure that they are aware the work is being subcontracted. The client could also be asked to approve of the subcontractor if necessary.

Engaging subcontractors

Tree surgeons may require subcontracting work for various reasons. One reason is if the work requires a specific set of skills, qualifications of equipment that the tree surgeon doesn’t have. Subcontracting is a common practice for larger tree surgery businesses when completing smaller jobs. Tree surgeons and contractors should agree to a written contract before the work starts.

This written contract should:

  • Define role and responsibilities of both the tree surgeon and the subcontractor.
  • Provide a project schedule that includes a timescale for completion.
  • Include expenses or fees that will be paid to the subcontractor as well as a payment schedule.
  • Specify any penalty clauses for under-performance or late completion.
  • Include an arbitration procedure for resolving any disputes between the tree surgeon and the subcontractor, and how complaints raised by the client about the subcontractor’s work should be resolved.

Tree surgeons may find it helpful to have a solicitor examine their written contracts to ensure they comply with the law and contain all elements they need.

In all cases, some health and safety requirements are defined by the law and cannot be passed on with a contract. Both parties will have duties under health and safety law.

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