Construction, Engineering, Manufacturing, Healthcare, and I.T. – the use of contractors is relevant to many industries. Contractor culture is critical to the success of many projects and companies. The ability to draft in contractors as and when needed makes financial sense, providing an effective way to supplement a company’s resources during busy periods or draft in expertise that isn’t regularly needed. However, the use of contractors in the workplace does prevent safety hazards.
Contract employees are unlikely to have the same familiarity or appreciation of hazards and safety procedures as full-time employees. This poses a significant hazard where a contractor worker such as a doctor, nurse, maintenance worker, hot work engineer, construction worker or IT security engineer is fulfilling a high-risk role.
Regardless of the role they are fulfilling, employers must make it their responsibility to manage contractors effectively and ensure that their employment does not impact the safety culture of the company. Contractor workers should not present new safety hazards in the workplace.
When hiring contractors, it is important to not only consider their experience and expertise in their area, but their attitude and record with regards to safety. Ask potential contractors about the safety policies and procedures they have followed in previous roles, the hazards they have identified in previous roles and how they dealt with them and their opinion of the role of safety and specific safety legislation in the workplace. Ask their referees about their safety records too. All of this should be done before any contracts have been issued or job offers have been made.
A contractor’s suitability for a role goes beyond their expertise and qualifications. No matter how technically knowledgeable or skilled they are, if they do not have the attitude and commitment to safety that other employees have, they are not the right fit for the role. Featuring a quick safety screening of potential contractors can go a long way to preventing critical safety hazards.
Given that contract workers present a higher safety risk, it’s incredibly important to know when they are on site and that is legislatively compliant for them to work for you. Australian legislation requires companies to be able to provide details on contractors currently employed including their contracts, their site status, their employment expiry date and evidence of any licences, certifications or tickets they have required to hold to perform their duties.
If contractor hires are critical to your business, you need to roll out the use of contractor management software. Such software tools enable you to keep a close eye on contractor performance and ensure that everyone on site is fully compliant.
They can immediately flag and issues notices for contractors to renew certifications, tickets etc. well in advance of expiry dates so there is no excuses for them to be non-compliant. In the event of an audit, senior management can simply open up their contractor management tool and immediately demonstrate evidence for all employed contractors to external auditors.
All contractor workers should receive the same safety training as permanent employees before commencing employment. They too should be tested on their safety knowledge before beginning their duties and their safety knowledge should be regularly reviewed throughout their contract period.
Although their contract terms may differ from permanent employees, their contribution to workplace safety is the same so they need to have the same knowledge and understanding of the safety policies and procedures of the company as permanent workers. You must work together with your contractors to help them to build the required safety knowledge to fulfil the role.
Working together is key to effective contractor management. With the right procedures and tools in place, any contractors that you hire can become an immediate asset to your company rather than a safety hazard.