Shared PCBU responsibilities.
Kevin Thompson, HASANZ Registered Safety Professional
Part 1 - The contractor accreditation process.
A quote from the Good Practice document issued by Worksafe on the subject of PCBU with shared responsibilities.
You can’t contract out of health and safety duties.
If you are sharing a workplace with other PCBUs, or working together in a contracting chain, you are likely to share overlapping duties. Each PCBU in the contracting chain should be aware of overlaps and manage risks that are
appropriate and reasonably practicable for them to control.
–– contract out of your health and safety duties, or
–– push risk down the contracting chain to another PCBU.
You are not only responsible for your own workers; your responsibility also extends to workers whose work you influence and direct, and other people at the workplace. This includes supporting those people to meet their health and safety duties, and not passing on or increasing risk through your arrangements with them.
WorkSafe expects PCBUs at the top of a contracting chain to be leaders in encouraging good health and safety practices throughout the chain. We also expect them to use sound contract management processes.
Two of these processes are:
o choosing competent contractors
o exchanging information
Consultation which forms the first step to achieving the 3 C’s is required with workers, industry partners and others whose health and safety is directly affected by our work; and moves on to, cooperation and coordination, involving duty holders who owe a duty of care for the same work health and safety responsibilities and liabilities.
A safe workplace and better safety outcomes are easier to achieve when workers and other stakeholders participate in activities to identify and improve WHS issues and are involved in decision making about WHS risk management.
The first step in the journey towards achieving the three C’s (Consult, co-operate and communicate) is for the PCBU to have a contractor accreditation process.
The purpose of this document is to assess the standards that the contractor subscribes to and evidence of the quality of their Health and Safety Management system, processes and insurance liabilities.
The importance of carrying out this process is to support and validate due diligence of the relationship by the PCBU to ensure they are comfortable with sharing risk and liability.
There are many formulas out there in the market place, some are very simple and some are overly complicated. Some (which is becoming quite common place now) engage a third party to carry out this due diligence on their behalf (eg. Site Wise, Impac Prequalification.)
What is very important in this first phase is to ensure that the accreditation process is robust and verifiable. It is up to the PCBU to do their own due diligence into any third party accreditation process to ensure it is credible and will stand up to scrutiny. After all you are handing over the responsibility to this third party to give you advice on suitability.
If you are a SME and decide to keep the accreditation process in house you must ensure that your questions do not give rise to elicit a Yes/No response, but rather a descriptor of what and how they do safety in their business and completed practical examples to validate their answers.
Some examples of topics and required evidence could cover but not be limited to, the subjects of:
• Management commitments to safety
• Managing risks in the business with risk registers, SOP. JSA, and a completed example of a Site Specific Safety plan completed for a recent job.
• How staff are involved in safety
• Accident/incident management with examples of documented reports.
• Training levels and competency of staff who may be involved in working with you
• Emergency readiness
• Managing contractors
• Currency of insurances
Once the document and evidence has been received from the contractor, this should be reviewed by a Health and Safety Practitioner to ensure that practices are robust.
Once assured of that status, a formal agreement, signed by both parties, should be put in place which outlines roles, responsibilities and deliverables within the relationship.
The next step in meeting the Three Cs will be covered in our second part in this series, CONTRACTOR AND VISITOR INDUCTION TRAINING.