The measures for containing the COVID-19 pandemic have included social distancing and shutting down production and economic activities, primarily to avoid mass gatherings of people and to slow the spread of the virus. In recent months, many countries have chosen to stop any activity deemed to be non-essential. The industries most impacted include tourism, retail, aviation, the oil and gas sector, automotive and mining.
Many companies in the mining sector have had to close their doors and send their workers home. We have seen many mines scaling back or completely shutting down their operations. According to an S&P Global report, by late April, there had been disruptions to 247 mines in 33 countries.
The impact of the pandemic is not only significant in terms of health, it has also led to an economic crisis, meaning there is mounting pressure on resuming activities to lessen the economic effect. An article published recently in The Mining Journal lists the main issues that need to be considered in order to re-open sites, and prepare for the new normal. The return to the workplace requires careful planning, what measures should be put in place to protect employees and how contractors will be managed, all need careful consideration. And finally, the procedures for entering certain workplaces, like mines, factories and oil rigs will have to change.
Contractor management during COVID-19
Given the current situation, there is increased scrutiny of how companies are operating, whether they are following the established guidelines and what measures they are taking to protect their employees and contractors. Legal systems worldwide are stipulating that companies purchasing services from suppliers and subcontractors are responsible not only for their health and safety, but also for the regulatory compliance of all those who work at the facilities or on projects.
Contractors are, without doubt, a valuable asset and vital to the operations of many organisations. However, if we do not identify and mitigate the associated risks, not only is the well-being of employees threatened, but so is the reputation of the organisations, with all the related social and financial implications.
Identifying requirements and establishing protocols
The emphasis is on identifying the requirements that contractors need to meet to work onsite and across multiple sites, and on ensuring that everyone complies with the current regulations. These might include:
Gathering specific information based on the activities that contractors will perform, for example: health and safety proficiency, licences, certification, insurance.
Making sure that contractors comply with all the documentation required by law. For example, that it is a legally established business, that they are up to date with payment of taxes, etc.
Checking that all contractors meet their employment obligations, such as payment of social security contributions.
Once these requirements have been identified, it is important to approve criteria and protocols. At Achilles, we have a contractor management solution, which provides quick and easy access to information about contractors, and can be used to check whether they meet the requirements for working with a given organisation, for entering the facilities and for taking part in projects or performing certain activities. This tool can be used to discover if the required information is complete and up to date and also provides alerts when any of the requirements needs updating or have expired. All of this helps to prevent and take corrective actions to mitigate any risks associated with contractors.
During the pandemic some of the requirements on how to manage contractors, have changed and new ones requirements have been added. Matters related to prevention of the spread of COVID-19 take priority and companies are developing their own specific guidelines. We have adapted our solution so that companies can oversee the requirements that contractors must meet. The specific requirements related to COVID-19 include:
Certificate of issue of personal protective equipment.
Personal protective equipment.
Discharge report in the event of having had the disease.
Visual inspection form including temperature check.
Checks to reduce the risk of contagion on site and demonstrate that the company is ready to operate.
Asking contractors to accept the terms of work during the pandemic (specific to each company).
Compliance with the site’s induction.
The pandemic has most definitely brought with it many changes and organisations have had to adapt to be able to deal with this situation. Many of the changes made to processes, safety measures and ways of working are set to continue and will become part of the new normal. We have a unique solution to help you improve contractor management, as well as a proven track record in supporting supply chains. Visit our website to consult the specific COVID-19 module, where you can find useful resources and regularly updated content. We are here to help you.