Contractor management and Safety

Health & Safety

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Many companies procure contractors to work on their behalf on their sites or premises. A contractor is defined as “The managing of outsourced work performed for an individual company. Contractor management implements a system that manages contractors' health and safety information, insurance information, training programs and specific documents that pertain to the contractor and the owner client.”

We hire contractors for various reasons, whether that is motivated by related cost cutting benefits, the transfer of risk or simply just to employer small businesses, hiring contractors carries its own risks and if not managed effectively, could lead to a decline of compliance standards of an organization.  We have highlighted a few points that organizations may consider in order to manage contractors and ensure that having them on site doesn’t negatively impact their own compliance. They are as follows:

Advantages of outsourcing

v  Cost cutting

v  Competitive advantage

v  Efficiency 

Outsourcing has its own disadvantages such as: 

v  Loss of control

v  Risk exposure

v  Potential exposure to liabilities

Each organizations strategy may differ, and we believe that managers, as part of their legal responsibilities in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, will do necessary due diligence to ensure that any potential liabilities related to contractors are assessed and minimised. These could be done in one or more ways to ensure effectives and better results.

a)     Prequalification

One way of making sure that contractors are the perfect fit to the organisations’ compliance strategy is to have Prequalification criteria as part of the selection process. This is normally done at the procurement stage and this means that the Procurement department, in partnership with the Safety department will play a critical role in the selection process. For example, Safety compliance and the need for a contractor to submit a valid Letter of Goodstanding might be one of the deciding factors. That way, one can eliminate fly-by nights at an early stage.

b)     Compliance monitoring 

The OHS act has listed requirements that need to be complied with when dealing with contractors. Once appointed, contractor shouldn’t be left alone but have their compliance monitored throughout the duration of their project. Having a clients’ Safety Officer monitor and document all compliance related activities to ensure early detection of problem areas and timeous correction of deficiencies has its own benefits. 

c)     37.2 agreements

This is the kind of agreement that a client may require a contractor to sign in order to commit themselves to comply with all relevant legislative requirements. This may include the supply of PPE and compliance with the clients’ Safety policies and procedures. This is done a lot by the construction and mining sector. Corporates could also adopt this during their limited duration construction projects, even though their core business isn’t necessarily construction. 

A proactive approach in determining and selecting suitable contractors that will not derail compliance objectives is a good start, rather than waiting for a disaster to strike first. We are not saying that all non-compliance is due to the use of contractors but merely highlight potentially risky areas that could lower compliance standard if ignored.  Contractors should be communicated to, the same way as employees regarding safety policies and procedures and changes thereof.

Written by Juliet Kekana – Managing Director – De-novo HSE Training and Consulting

For more information on health and safety services, visit our website www.denovohse.co.za

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