Managing Contractor Safety in the workplace

Managing Contractor Safety in the workplace

Most businesses will engage an independent contractor at some point, but many business managers are oblivious to the duties they owe these contractors.

Any person, corporation or association that conducts a business or undertaking – whether they are for profit or not-for-profit – has responsibilities under the harmonised work, health and safety (WHS) legislation that covers NSW, Queensland, SA, NT and the ACT. Victoria and W.A. have similar requirements in their legislation.

In all jurisdictions, the legislation says independent contractors engaged to undertake work for a business or undertaking, are considered to be workers of that business.

Officers of the business have a primary duty of care to any contractor they engage and to any workers they may have working for them. Under this duty, you must ensure their health and safety, so far as is reasonably practicable.

You cannot use a contractor to limit or modify your statutory obligations. If you attempt to transfer your duty of care to an independent contractor via a contract, the provision will be invalid.

The five steps for exercising your duty of care

Developing a comprehensive contractor management system addressing the following elements is a key part of meeting your duty of care to independent contractors:

1. Selection: Select contractors based on their expertise, competence and WHS record. For example, are they properly licensed? Do they have references from commercial clients?

2. WHS documentation: Obtain and review all relevant contractor documentation, including competencies, high-risk work licences, insurances and safe work method statements (if applicable).

2. Induction: Induct all contractors into your WHS policies and procedures before they commence work. Provide contractors with information, instruction and training that is easy to understand and relevant to the work they are engaged to perform.

4. The three C’s: Consult, cooperate and coordinate activities with contractors and others involved in the work. Ensure that contractors are updated with any recent workplace hazards and/or any other changes that may affect them in the performance of their duties.

5. Monitoring: Monitor contractors’ work activities to ensure they are carried out in accordance with your contractor management program and relevant WHS legislation.

Contractors are not absolved of their duty of care to their own workers and others in a workplace just because they are retained by the business organisation. They are also bound by obligations under the Act to maintain their own safe working systems that they need to comply with.  

Ongoing contractor management

An effective monitoring system will enable the business to maintain the five steps of compliance by achieving the following tasks:

  • Contractors on site are highlighted by wearing a pass slip that will clearly identify them to other workers
  • Provides a prompt to the business when contractor compliance documentation is due for renewal
  • Records time in/time out whenever a contractor is on site. Becomes an audit tool for billing purposes and machine maintenance records
  • Provides a record of any non-employee’s on site in an evacuation situation
  • Protects the contractors details for privacy purposes
  • Assists the business to comply with work health & safety requirements in regard to providing ongoing advice and warnings to incoming contractors
  • Systems are available in touch-screen digital version or a fully portable manually completed book version.

Compact Systems Australia can provide a no obligation evaluation of both products and see which option will suit your business. Call Compact today to find out more about how our simple but effective contractor management systems can streamline your internal control measures.