Contractor WHS Risks

Contractor WHS Risks

The issue of managing contractor Work Health & Safety (WHS) performance is an ongoing concern among organisations of all industries, typically because contractors may be performing non-routine work at sites that are not directly supervised by an WHS manager, or any manager at all.

The prequalification process for contractors involves numerous steps and variables, with WHS being just one factor out of many. A study conducted by the US National Safety Council’s Campbell Institute found that WHS is often poorly managed and often overlooked in contractor relationships and the prequalification process because other criteria tend to take precedence during vetting (e.g. costs, contractors’ management and technical capability, past experience and performance, reputation, and proposed work methods). WHS ranked only about tenth in a list of important criteria.

However the study identified some “best practices” that organisations can adopt. These include:
* Use of third-party prequalifying companies
* Assessment of contractor safety statistics (EMR, TRIR, DART, fatality rate, etc.)
* Internal scale or checklist to assign grades contractors during prequalification
* Placing general contractors in charge of subcontractor safety and holding them to owner standards
* Verification of contractor certifications and permits; on-site safety orientations
* Periodic, scheduled assessments during contract term

By evaluating the risk level of the work to be performed, organisations can make more informed decisions about the selection of contractors, and determine if extra safety measures and precautions are required.