How to ensure safe work practices from contractors in your workplace – Part 1

By Joanna Weekes on July 6th, 2012
  1. Safety Management
  2. Contractors

On Wednesday, we discussed what duties of care a contractor has while performing work in your workplace, as well as going over your responsibilities as the employer in control of a worksite where contractors are performing work.

In a follow-up to that, today we will look at how a host employer can go about ensuring a contractor is working safely in their workplace – a task that can seem difficult since we hire contractors for their skills in specialist areas, areas that you will most likely not have the know-how in to be aware of how to carry out the job correctly and safely or not.

But – there is still a LOT you can do…

If you are the host employer of a worksite where contractors are engaged, you are responsible for all safety hazards that exist there, so you will need to consider the risks that those contractors pose and take action to reduce them.

What exactly can you do to ensure safe systems of work are being followed by contractors on your worksite?

If you engage contractors, it is essential that you develop a system that involves their:

  • Induction;
  • Training;
  • Monitoring; and
  • Supervision.

This can be challenging, particularly if your business has no day-to-day involvement in the contractor’s project, or if you use multiple contractors – setting up a safety committee with a specific responsibility for contractors is a good way to do this.

There are 5 steps you should take to ensure contractors in your workplace are taking care to perform their work safely.

1.  Assess the contractor’s due diligence to health and safety duties

Before engaging a contractor for services, check that they:

  • are suitably qualified to carry out the work;
  • plan to carry out the work safely (this involves the use of a job safety analysis developed by the contractor);
  • will consult with your employees to ensure they are not put at risk by the contractor;
  • will use safe equipment;
  • will regularly monitor safety issues; and
  • will submit to regular monitoring and supervision.

2.  Induct the contractor into your workplace

All contractors entering your business must:

  • be inducted into the worksite;
  • be inducted into your workplace policies and procedures, and demonstrate they are competent in them; and
  • participate in and understand the risk assessment process for work they are undertaking.

The induction should also be a time that you assess whether the contracting company have sent appropriate personnel to your workplace to carry out the work, and check they have the necessary licensing and registration.

3.  Check the preparation of safe work method statements

A contractor must prepare a tailored safe work method statement for work they perform in your workplace – particularly high risk activities. This safe work method statement must not be generic, the contractor is required to visit your site and assess the environment they will be working in to prepare a site-specific document.

You are not an expert in all work that contractors perform, so you do not need to approve the specific content as such, rather, you need to review it to ensure it is site-specific and demonstrates the risk assessment process the contractor has carried out at your workplace to identify relevant risks.

It is at this stage that you should be raising any obvious issues you see in the contractor’s systems, long before they begin work.

Stay tuned next week for the final 2 steps in ensuring safe working systems from the contractors you engage.

The new and updated version of C1 Contractors, featured in the soon-to-be-released OH&S Handbook update, includes useful checklists that will help you to carry out the above steps quickly and efficiently when contractors enter your worksite – so if you subscribe to the OH&S Handbook, keep an eye out for that in the mail!

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