Prequalification is often used as a method to confirm the management of safety on the ground by contractors. Usually through the collection and assessment of documentation as evidence of operational safety management.
In this article
This practice is flawed
The critical elements of a good prequalification
Drafting prequalification questions
Putting together a prequalification questions
The relationship between documented safety procedures and day to day safety management rarely match. Borys, D. (2009). Exploring risk-awareness as a cultural approach to safety: Exposing the gap between work as imagined and work as actually performed. Safety Science Monitor, 13(2), 1-11
prequalification may also push a contractor to prepare documentation that reflects what they think is expected of them, vs what they actually use on a day-to-day basis to manage safety.
prequalification generally rewards those who can prepare documents, not necessarily those who manage safety well.
In reality prequalification is a legal process, not a safety process and its purpose is to demonstrate due diligence when engaging contractors and to ensure that contractors and those who hire them have a clear understanding of the obligations owed by each of them to manage safety.
Therefore, the critical elements of a good prequalification include
In addition, we need to obtain assurance from the contractor that they are achieving the level of safety performance we require. This doesn’t mean we go back to checking documentation but ask questions that confirm performance not process.
So, when drafting prequalification questions ask yourself “What is the outcome, I want the contractor to confirm?”.
An easy example is training. Usually, I see questions in prequalification like;
All these questions are confirmation of process, not confirmation of performance. The better question to ask is;
· “Are your workers competent and or licensed as required to undertake their work?”
Putting together a prequalification may seem simple but it takes real skill to ensure that it does what you want it to (I have been drafting and tweaking the prequalification we use at LinkSafe Legal for the past 10 years!).
So, I encourage you to look at your prequalification if you have one and see if it relies too heavily on documentation as evidence of safety management, really sets up the relationship between your contractor and clearly allocates responsibilities, and finally obtains assurance of safety performance by your contractor.
However, if at the end of the day you need help or think “I just want to be sure my prequalification is right” contact us and we will set you up. That’s what we are here for.