ISO 45001 and Contractor Management – What it Means to You

Neil HartleyHealth & Safety Issues/TrendsLeave a Comment

ISO 45001 and Contractor Management

In our recent post ISO 45001 – A Marriage of Culture and Digitalisation we covered the major changes that will be required in achieving ISO 45001 certification versus the previous standard, OHSAS 18001.

One of those changes is the extension of the moral and legal responsibility of an organisation to the whole supply chain and the expansion of the definition a worker to cover contractors and not just employees.

Those companies already certified to the old standard, now have three years to achieve ISO 45001 certification. So, what does this mean in terms of contractor management and what role can e-permits play in achieving compliance?

The ISO 45001 standard states “The organisation shall establish and maintain processes to ensure that the requirements of the organisation’s OH&S management system [that apply to their employees – Ed] are met by contractors and their workers. These processes shall include the OH&S criteria for selection of contractors” and that, “The organisation shall establish controls to ensure that the procurement of goods and services conform to its OH&S management system requirements”.

So, contractors will have to be treated the same as employees and, as an organisation, it’s your responsibility as part of your OH&S management system to make sure that hazards are communicated appropriately and to evaluate and control all the risks arising.

For example, how will a contractor’s activities and operations impact your organisation’s workers; how will the organisation’s activities and operations impact the contractor’s workers; how do the contractor’s workers and operations relate to other parties in the workplace; and how will the contractor’s activities and operations impact on their own workers? It’s a much broader scope of responsibilities, and contractors will need to meet the same criteria in terms of competency, training, etc. as your own employees.

It’s no longer going to be enough just to have documents in place – certification to ISO 45001 requires companies to show that processes are in place and that senior management are actively involved. To demonstrate these processes and show that action has been taken, the systems that are managing your health and safety operations must be robust, and have audit trails.

So how can you move towards being compliant? You’ve got to show, as part of your system, that employees and contractors are all treated the same. Do you apply exactly the same processes? Exactly the same controls? The same work authorisation processes? And the same reporting mechanisms? Should there be any sort of an incident the reporting system needs to be able to show whether it was employees or contractors, what actions you took, and what preventative actions you took to make sure that workers are remaining safe.

Worker management then boils down to making sure that the right people, with the right and current training and competencies, are in the right place, to do the right job, at the right time, and have the right RAMS to conduct the work safely.

This is something that should be done for contractors but exactly the same processes should also be applied to employees. While we’re talking here about changes to contractor management, it’s not uncommon for employees to avoid the same level of scrutiny because ‘they know the ropes’. The new system is about getting it right. Not just making sure contractors are treated the same way as employees but also making sure that employees are treated the same way as contractors.

What do we mean by the right people? Are the people involved in that whole work process from request, to approval, to doing and closing out the work, the people specified on the specific permit to work?

Have they got the right training and competencies for their role in that process? Is it current and have they been inducted?

Is the contractor company the one specified on the permit to work? Does the contractor company have all the required insurances to conduct the work and are they all, of course, current?

On the right job – is everyone doing their bit in the process for the job specified? You may have external contractors coming in to do certain parts of the work, you may also have a situation where you may need to do isolations that some of your internal team may need to undertake, so is everybody doing their bit in that process?

With regard to right time, has everything been done that’s required by the time specified on that permit to work?

In terms of right place, have the works team internal and/or contractor turned up to work in the location specified on that permit to work?

Finally, are the RAMS that are to be used on the job approved and are they unique to the job that’s going to be done and, in particular, in the location it’s going to be done?

These are all key questions that need to be addressed in the permit-to-work process, and for which an audit trail needs to be established and maintained to ensure compliance with ISO 45001 and, more importantly, the safety of all workers.

To watch a demo of how e-permits delivers against these requirements and can help your company comply with ISO 45001, you can watch this recent webinar on ISO 45001 and Contractor Management.

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