The use of external Contractors is an essential part of almost all business within the United Arab Emirates. Most companies turn to Contractors to supplement their manpower and operational needs and also supply a skillbase not covered in house.
A Contractor is a representative that works for a company that is not a direct and registered employee of the firm. According to OSHAD-SF the definition of a contractor is “a person, organization, their employees or a nominated representative engaged to carry out work for the entity in a contract for a service arrangement.”
Contractors are often engaged for tasks often involving hazardous activities and other specialized tasks; ranging from working on critical process equipment, carrying out non-routine activities such as maintenance, repairs, installation, construction, demolition and many other jobs. As we know, all work activities carry the potential for harm, Contractor activities are not exempted from a companies responsibilities. As such, there is a vital need for safety and efficiency in the management of Contractors.
In order to effectively manage Contractors some key actions need to be applied. It is important to find and assess the tasks to be carried out by Contractors at a work site and determine the high-risk jobs compared to others.
The successful management of Contractors starts before hiring Contractors. There needs to be clarity in the overall expectation of the Contractor as well as communicating the required standards of competence. Rules should be established in the contract for any contracted or temporary employee. Other important areas to be considered include:
- The establishment of Health and Safety Policy showing the commitment of the senior management to workplace safety to the inclusion of Contractors
- The necessary licenses, competencies or permits required to undertake the work
- Trained and qualified personnel for the work to be undertaken as well as the competent person charged with a supervision role
- Availability of safe tools, materials, and equipment
- Readiness to address health and safety failings by engaging directly with the leader of the contracting organization
These processes can be assisted by having a robust contract in terms of HSE obligations and also developing an HSE checklist that the Contractor agrees to and signs before they commence work. Items to be included on this list will vary based on the type of work and the level risks involved. Prior to starting work the Contractor should:
- Attend all pre-start orientation. This will aid in eliminating any incorrect assumptions that could arise as well as assess the need of site HSE induction before the commencement of work
- Provide all necessary documentation such as health and safety training records, compliance with regulatory standards etc.
- Sign an agreement in writing showing their commitment to compliance with all Health, Safety and Environmental legislation
- Provide arrangements in place for the supervision of their staff while work is ongoing
- Schedule/plan regular progress meetings to discuss and raise health and safety issues as they occur
- Provide evidence of the engagement of a qualified personnel for the work to be undertaken
- Attend induction on the health and safety requirement of the work site
- Identify the hazards and associated risk with the proposed works right from setting up the work area to completion of the job
- Conduct Risk Assessment, Prepare Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS) or Job Safety Analysis (JSA) for high-risk tasks
While work is ongoing, all personnel should be monitored in order to understand all risks they are exposed to and ensure the regular communication of safe work practices through various media such as health and safety meetings, toolbox talks, safety newsletter, putting up information on notice boards and health and safety training. Robust management of Contractors involves ensuring they understand all vital information, instruction, and training you are giving them. So effort should be made taking account of any language difficulties or disabilities up to the extent of providing information in a language other than English or non language based instructions and information.
Upon completion of the Contractors work, the Contractors should ensure the work area is safe while the company’s site superintendent or designee ensures that job completion assessment is done and properly documented
Improving health and safety arrangements is good practice and companies can achieve this by engaging the services of health and safety consultants whose duty would be to review the Contractor’s work on a regular basis. This can occur through ongoing site review sessions, site safety audits, observations of all work being carried out as well as in discussions and meetings. It is very important to keep records such as minutes of discussions with Contractors and ensure that any proposed improvements are implemented in practice.
The HSE consultant/specialist may also develop an action plan listing each of the health, safety and environmental issues. They also make a recommendations on how the issue will be rectified, who will be the action party charged with the responsibility, when a target date for implementation should be set and who monitors the implementation in practice.
In summary, a vital part of a firm’s overall health and safety program should always involve effective safety management for Contractors. Any Contractor with a poor safety program will definitely and adversely affect quality, productivity, schedules, and overall costs which are associated with a business.