Just in case you were wondering… yes, your business has the same duty of care towards contractors as it does for its employees. The contractors you engage must be provided with a working environment that is without risk to health and safety, just like everyone else.
You get that but actually you are pretty confident that your workplace is safe. You are totally on top of managing OHS policy and procedure. But let’s spin this on its head for a second. Have you thought about whether the contractor themselves might introduce risks you haven’t already planned for?
Here’s some things to think about managing the time you have at work:
- Ensure of competence. If the contractor is not competent to complete the work that you have agreed on they may be putting your other workers at risk. So, before you take them on, gather supporting information like certificates and licences, and verify competency through references.
- Conduct an induction. If they don’t know the rules and procedure, again they may be putting others, and themselves, at risk. Hold an induction covering workplace rules, emergency procedures, hazard and incident reporting processes before they commence work. And regardless of whether they are at the workplace for an hour or a year.
- Define responsibilities. Identify which workers in your workplace will be responsible for managing or supervising contractors. This will help ensure that if anything goes amiss, someone with workplace experience can catch it early.
- Monitor work. Once the contractor has commenced work, your responsibility does not stop. Keep across what they are doing and check in with them. They may have health and safety questions and concerns that come up as they go.
And finally, manage your risk and ensure that the contractor is insured. Request that the contractor provide you with their most current public liability, professional indemnity, and WorkCover insurances, as appropriate.
By the way, we’re not just talking about contractors in the construction industry. This is any person, or an organisation for that matter, that provides a service for a fee but is not a direct employee. Think consultants, freelancers, external accountants who work in your office… they are all contractors and, as such, the above still applies.