You take seriously your ethical and legal duty to provide a safe workplace for your workers. But does the same apply to your contractors?

While engaging contractors brings its own set of safety challenges, the legal (and ethical) responsibilities you have for worker safety extend to contractors. Bringing contractors into the fold on safety, rather than keeping them at arm’s length, can benefit everybody involved as well as the wider community.

On the same page

So does your approach to safety, and your safety systems, support or undermine efforts to bring contractors into the safety fold? Here’s three key things to consider.

  • Is it clear who has responsibility for monitoring and reporting risks, particularly where contractors and employees work closely on-site, or is everyone assuming safety is someone else’s responsibility?
  • Contractors often have less interaction with organisations, so they can be ‘in the dark’ on your policies and procedures. If contractors aren’t included in toolbox talks or team meetings and don’t complete the same safety training as employees, how do they know what’s expected?
  • Do your contracts prioritise efficiency over safety, pressuring contractors to deliver outcomes at minimum cost? If incentives are ‘misaligned’, contract design could have the unintended consequence of encouraging contractors to prioritise speed over safety.

Why it matters to your business success

If we put aside your legal and ethical obligations for one moment, focusing on contractor safety also makes good business sense.

Increasingly, for example, safety performance and processes are key factors in choosing which contractors will win work, particularly on major projects, and there are growing examples where a strong organisation-contractor safety focus is being implemented successfully without impeding project delivery.

In these situations, bottom line benefits flow to the organisation and the contractors involved. But more importantly the safety benefits flow to employees and contractors working on the project and, particularly with many major projects increasing heavy vehicle movements in our cities, it can significantly improve safety across the community.

Information on proven frameworks and checklists to increase your focus on contractor safety can be found here.

So when it comes to safety, are your contractors out the cold and therefore adding to the risk for your business, or are they in the fold and helping to improve your organisation’s safety record?

See the ‘Extending Safety Practices to Contractors’ Fact Sheet for more information.

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