Before allowing a Contractor to commence undertaking any work, ask the Contractor the following 4 key questions (face-to-face), which will help you decide whether they have just prepared generic risk assessment and method statement (RAMS) or whether they are job specific and that they have considered the risks relating to your specific job –
What are you going to do?
This will reveal whether the Contractor has correctly understood the scope of the work and may identify possible risks to, and conflicts with, other Contractors/employees. The answer given to this question will also indicate whether the Contractor is taking a systematic approach.
What could go wrong?
This shows whether the Contractor’s risk assessment and method statement (RAMS) is real or just a piece of paper. Ideally, what you want to hear is a list of hazards that have been considered, followed by some statement of why it is not going to be a problem because of the actions the Contractor is going to take. (They should also demonstrate that they have considered others working on site, including other Contractors, if applicable.)
What precautions are you going to be taking?
The Contractor should be telling you the precautions they are going to take, rather than you telling them what to do. Thereby, if the Contractor does not deliver, there is a greater potential loss of face so it is actually more likely to get done.
What would you do if anything still went wrong?
This demonstrates whether they have any real contingency/emergency planning and it may also reveal worrying assumptions such as – they are relying on your/others on-site emergency provision.