Managing Contractors from a Health and Safety Perspective
Managing Contractors from a Health and Safety Perspective is a vital component of having external trades people at your workplace.
The use of contractors is unavoidable in retirement villages and any aged care facility as we look to engage external expertise for specialised work and maintenance tasks.
Section 34 of The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 provides that all persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) who have duties imposed by the Act in relation to the same matter must, so far as is reasonably practicable, consult, co-operate and co-ordinate their activities with all the other PCBUs who have duties that overlap with them.
There are four main points to remember about overlapping duties:
- You have a duty to consult, cooperate with and coordinate activities with all other PCBUs you share overlapping duties with, so far as is reasonably practicable.
- You can’t contract out of your health and safety duties, or push risk onto others in a contracting chain.
- You can enter into reasonable agreements with other PCBUs to make sure that everyone’s health and safety duties are met.
- The more influence and control your business has over a workplace or a health and safety matter, the more responsibility you are likely to have.
WorkSafe have made it clear that they expect PCBUs at the top of a contracting chain to be leaders in encouraging good health and safety practices throughout the chain. They also expect these PCBUs to use sound contract management processes.
There are six key health and safety steps when it comes to managing your contractors:
- Scoping – understand what the body of works is, the risks involved, the training and competencies required, the working environment and any additional measures required.
- Selection – select the right contractor for job, utilise a contractor selection process that considers the values and systems of the contractor from a safety perspective.
- Induction – provide the contractor with basic information regarding site hazards, site rules and emergency evacuation procedures.
- Safe system of work – the contractor must provide (and you must review) safety management information for the job. You must be confident that the contractor has appropriately controlled the risks associated with their works.
- Monitoring – while the contractor is on site, check that they are carrying out their works in accordance with the safety management information they provided.
- Review – Examine what went right as well as what can be improved so that both parties may continually improve on their health and safety performance, this should fed-back into future scoping and selection decisions.
WorkSafe (New Zealand) have developed Good Practice Guidelines for ‘PCBUs Working Together: Advice When Contracting’ (June 2019) in order to provide advice on how you can meet your duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, illustrate different contractual relationships between parties, and provide examples of ways you can build health and safety into contract management.
Thanks to Shannon Wright, from Imprint Safety Limited for contributing this article.
Cosman, M., Tooma, M., Butler, A., Marriott, C., Schmidt-McCleave, R. (2018). Safeguard Health & Safety Handbook 2019. Wellington, New Zealand: Thomson Reuters.
WorkSafe. (2019). PCBUs Working Together: Advice When Contracting. Retrieved from https://worksafe.govt.nz/managing-health-and-safety/getting-started/understanding-the-law/overlapping-duties/pcbus-working-together-advice-when-contracting/