In February of this year, bus company Go Ahead London were fined £600,000 after a workman died following a fall from a ladder. The HSE investigation found that the company failed to implement and keep to their own procedures for managing contractors.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector, Neil Fry, said, “This is a tragic case which could have been entirely preventable; if the company had managed their contractors effectively then the worker would have returned home safely from work.”
Are you fulfilling your duty of care with respect to contractors? How do you ensure the right people with the right and current training, competencies, insurance, certifications; from the right contractor have gone through site induction, and are on site to do the right job, at the right time, in the right place, with the right RAMS to conduct the work safely?
Contractor management is about getting it right, and there are lots of ‘rights’ in the paragraph above. The issue is managing all of these things, checking them before someone starts work and being able to deal with a contractor who turns up unexpectedly at your facility because they were ‘in the area’. Would you still be compliant if you let them do the work?
The UK fatality rate for the self-employed is double that for employees with 0.79 deaths per 100,000. Why are contract workers at an increased risk of incident? I don’t buy the often touted suggestion that contractors are somehow dispensable, but something is at play. More likely it is a combination of one or more of the following:
- a contractor may feel obliged to take a risk that an employee would not?
- contract workers may include a higher proportion of immigrant workers (I say ‘may’ because I haven’t seen the stats) and command of English may be an issue? This was definitely a factor in the death of Rene Tkacik, a Crossrail construction worker, although again I’m not 100% certain that he was a contractor rather an employee..
- the employer believes their duty ends with orientation of the contractor?
- the employer is not getting their duty of care ‘right’ with respect to contractors and that, consequently, there are gaps in contractors’ compliance with their own internal procedures?
e-permits was designed to manage compliance (right people, right and current training, insurance, certification, competencies, for the right contractor, who has been through site induction, and are in the right place, at the right time to do the right job with the right RAMS in order to conduct the work safely) not just from the contractor’s point of view but also with regard to the issue of a permit-to-work and the authorization process.
Clearly the key to ensuring the success of a system like e-permits is having the correct contractor information in the system and to maintain the checks and balances that ensure that all of the information is current.
The best way to learn more about e-permits and how it will enable you to fulfill your duty of care with respect to your contractors is to watch a short demonstration which you can do here. Be sure to watch out for the section on how you can use e-permits for tracking non-compliance of contractors which then can then become a basis for reviews. This is tangential to the thrust of using contractor management but illustrative of the overall ability for e-permits to provide an audit trail.
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