Managing Contractor Safety

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It doesn’t matter what business you’re in – whether it’s construction, aged care, transport, or financial services – at some point you’re likely to engage an independent contractor. And, their safety, is your responsibility.

Protecting contractors. Protecting your business.

Time and time again, one of the biggest gaps we see in Safety Management Systems is Contractor Safety. Many employers fall into the trap of thinking that health and safety is the sole responsibility of the contractor. But, according to health and safety legislation any individual, corporation, partnership or association that conducts a business or undertaking (PCBU) has a duty to ensure contractors safety, so far as reasonably practical.

In fact, your responsibilities when it comes to contractor’s safety are similar to the responsibility you have for employees. The fact is, in all jurisdictions, independent contractors who are engaged to undertake work for a company are considered to be workers of that business.

Select carefully. Audit regularly.

To protect your business and exercise your duty of care, you should have a comprehensive Contractor Management System in place that covers:

  1. Independent Contraction selection process
  2. Audit of WHS/OHS documentation
  3. Induction, instruction and training
  4. Auditing and monitoring

When it comes to selecting a contractor in the first place, do it based on their expertise, experience and competency. Talk to referees and make sure they have the appropriate licenses and insurances (don’t just take their word for it – review the documentation yourself).

Once you’ve engaged them, you have to induct them – before they commence work. Take them through all of your WHS/OHS policies and procedures and where appropriate provide the training they need to operate safely.

From there, you have a responsibility to ensure that they are carrying out their work in accordance with your WHS/OHS policies and the relevant legislation.

If you think that you can limit or modify your statutory obligations for contractor safety through your contract – think again. Even if you attempt to transfer the duty in a contract, the provision will be invalid.

When a contractor has their own employees, things do get a bit more complicated. They still have a duty of care to their own workers that isn’t overridden by their arrangement with you. This means that there be complex overlaps in the duty of care that need to be understood and documented.

Need advice or help developing a Contractor Management System?
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