Your questions answered: What obligations do we have to ensure our principal contractors are complying with safety recommendations from third-party audits?

By Portner Press on April 12th, 2019
  1. Safety Management
  2. Contractors

Q
We engage principal contractors on our construction projects. We also engage a third party to conduct audits on each principal contractor once per year on each of their projects. We then coordinate the completion of any actions in response to the audit with the principal contractor.

Do we need to get evidence of each closed action or is an email stating that action items are closed enough? We are based in WA.

A
In Western Australia, you have an obligation to ensure, so far as is practicable, that your employees, and any individuals accessing workplaces owned or controlled by your business are not exposed to hazards when in, or accessing, the workplace.

Consequently, in order to reduce the risk of exposure to hazards, your business has a legal obligation to ensure that any action items raised in the external audit are sufficiently closed out.

Written confirmation from the principal contractors that action items have been closed out may be sufficient to satisfy your obligation. However, your obligation is to ensure the reduction of hazards ‘as far as reasonably practicable’.

Therefore, to ensure that you have sufficiently discharged that obligation, and as a more prudent course of action, we recommend that you obtain evidence from the principal contractors that each action item has been closed out, e.g. photographic evidence or site inspections.

This will help your business to satisfy its obligation under health and safety legislation, and will help minimise any suggestions that you have not complied with your obligations.

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