Contractors: understanding and managing health and safety risks

24 Apr 2019
Article by Achilles

Across the world, many legal regimes state that companies buying services from suppliers are responsible for the health and safety risks and compliance of contractors working on site. Some also state that buyers are responsible for their contractors’ compliance with labour laws and social security regulations.

Using contractors brings many benefits for businesses, including scalability, additional expertise and efficiency. But it’s important to remember that when you use a third-party company or have contractors working on site, you become responsible for their compliance with labour standards and health and safety requirements. Our research shows that although the frequency of injuries to both employees and contractors has decreased steadily over the last 35 years, contractor work still tends to be twice as risky as employee work.

There is clearly still a lot of work to be done with regards to workplace safety across the world. In our Regic Chile community for example, only 30% of companies currently have a health and safety risk coverage system in place.

Ensuring contractor compliance – questions you should be asking

It is vital for employers to be aware of the extent of their legal responsibility when it comes to contractors working on site and the risks they may be exposed to.

Over three decades, we’ve worked with thousands of companies across the world in sectors like mining, oil and gas, construction and utilities. Based on years of expertise, we apply local regulations and health and safety legislation to identify the key questions you need to ask your on-site contractors to understand the risks you face:

  • Do they comply with all relevant health and safety regulations in all the countries where they operate?
  • Do they share your attitude to health and safety?
  • Do they have a culture of continuous learning and improvement?
  • Are they committed to driving down accident rates year-on-year?
  • Do they have workplace safety programmes in place that reflect this? Are their vehicles and other equipment fully insured and fit for purpose?
  • Do they have the appropriate training and professional qualifications?

These are fundamental factors that are about far more than protecting your company’s reputation. Breaches can attract significant legal penalties and impact supply chain relationships, affecting your commercial performance and long-term success.

Managing risk across the supply chain

Asking the right questions is one thing. The task of then auditing, understanding and managing all the people, resources and practices associated with all your projects can seem like a massive challenge.

After all, the potential risks aren’t just with your tier-one contractors – the businesses with which you interact on a daily basis. This also extends to their suppliers – and their suppliers’ suppliers too. Ultimately, the organisations involved in your projects can often be a long way from your direct influence. Add to that the speed at which organisations and relationships change, and the difficulty of staying up-to-date becomes an even more complex task.

Too many companies find it impossible to identify the risks to which their reputation and performance are exposed – let along to do anything about them. And that means they’re taking unknown risks every time a contractor steps onto one of their sites.

Contractor management made easy

Our flexible solutions enable organisations to obtain and continuously update all the validated contractor information they need – easily and cost-effectively.

Based on millions of man-hours of health and safety experience, insight and analysis, we provide information on contractor personnel (training, certification, payroll and contracts) and equipment (including maintenance records and insurance details). This is all fully validated by our team, and new sites can easily be added to the service.

Controlar: We help you make sure your subcontractors are always adding value to your operations, rather than risk. We offer a fully managed workplace safety service that gives you the tools to manage your people, processes and equipment.

OnSite Plant: This digital solution makes it simple to comprehensively manage and monitor all of the equipment used by your suppliers across all project operations.

OnSite Workforce: Up-to-date, clean and verifiable data is an important part of making sure your contractors are working in the best way. Our workplace safety management solution captures all the right data for you.

Streamlined precision in contractor information

The service is highly flexible. It enables you to specify the jobs, sites and specific risks you wish to cover, set the frequency of approvals and easily update your requirements. And we provide every tool required for the streamlined and precise management of all contractor information. These range from contractor alerts and straightforward reporting processes to bespoke permission levels and advanced data-exchange options including smart card and fingerprint.

Immediate, radical risk reduction

Right across our client base, we see significant improvements in many areas arising directly from Controlar. One client has seen an 80% reduction in the number of forged documents identified in its supply chain, and another has achieved 95% effectiveness in social security payments by its contractors.

A global mining company has been able to control its local use of a subcontracted workforce and report it to all relevant local authorities, and a multinational petrochemical corporation has used Controlar information to drive down industrial action among contractors by 10%.

Figures like these are just the tip of the iceberg. The reality is that every company using Controlar can immediately reduce the health and safety risks involved with allowing contractors onto its sites.

For buyers, that does more than protect their company against legal action if something goes wrong. It also brings peace of mind, dramatically reducing uncertainty and the time taken to validate supplier information.



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