Meeting PCBU shared responsibilities Part 2 - Contractor inductions

Meeting PCBU shared responsibilities - Part two Contractor Inductions. 

In this article Andy Loader, RSP and Board member of the New Zealand Safety Council has looked at the subject of meaningful contractor and visitor induction and training.

Many workplaces struggle to provide good, effective job and site-specific inductions to contractors prior to them starting work on their site. Ensuring that contractors who arrive on site are properly trained and maintaining up-to-date records of induction training, is also hard work for many companies.

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act a PCBU has a “Primary Duty of Care” that requires them to ensure the safety of all persons legally on or near the PCBU’s worksite. The PCBU also has a duty to consult with other PCBU’s that have the same duty of care, and one of the first ways of complying with these requirements is to carry out good job/site specific inductions for all contractors/visitors to their site.

Some of the problems that people meet when trying to provide contractor/visitor inductions on their site are set out below:

Developing Induction Materials:-

It is often left to site managers/supervisors to develop the materials used in contractor and visitor inductions and in many cases, this is appropriate because they are very familiar with the safety procedures that the contractors and visitors need to know.

But knowing the safety procedures well doesn’t mean these same people have the skills, or knowledge necessary to develop good induction materials.

They may be very good at their job but not skilled in producing training materials and this can lead to inductions that are confusing or inaccurate, and don’t provide adequate knowledge for the contractors/visitors to ensure their own safety while on site.

The best fix for this problem is to use staff that have some experience in writing instructional procedure manuals or employ outside providers to do this for you while your staff does their job.

Once the induction materials are ready, the next problem is the carrying out of the inductions to contractors and visitors. This can be done by sending the induction materials to the contractors and getting them to carry out the inductions for their employees but this method means that control of the process is vested in the contractors and you don’t have any real quality control over the delivery or even any guarantee that the inductions are actually carried out completely.

The most common way to carry out the inductions for larger jobs/projects is by setting a time and for the contractors to come onsite and attend the induction training prior to the commencement of the contract.

It is common for smaller sites/jobs to provide induction training individually or as the contractors arrive to work onsite. The main problem with providing inductions as and when contractors arrive on site as opposed to a scheduled time, is the possibility that the contractor may arrive at a time when you are extremely busy/not onsite etc. When this situation arises then it is imperative that the contractor is not allowed to start work onsite until the inductions are carried out as required under the duty of care provisions of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Carrying out Inductions:-

In a contractor induction you want to present a series of topics that cover safety on site, an introduction to the workplace, important policies and site specific procedures.

A contractor induction should start with what you need to collect from your contractors and the companies they work for.

Insurances, licenses, certifications, evidence of training, emergency contact details, everything you need to get from them before they start working on site and performing their job, task or role.

One of the most important elements of a contractor/visitor induction is workplace safety. This is where you present the important safety policies and procedures, site hazards to be aware of, how to report an incident, a new hazard or safety observation, local emergency services contacts and other important safety information that is needed for a contractor to work on site. 

Topics on quality, environment, Contractor Obligations, Duty of Care, Electrical Safety, Hazardous Chemicals, Alcohol and Drugs, Permit to Work, PPE and Safety Commitment are just a few of the other important workplace topics to discuss in your contractor/visitor induction.

A suggestion for the process of an induction is set out below:

Site Familiarisation Tour

Contractors are not the same as your day to day employees, they may not know the site and they may not be familiar with the buildings onsite. A site tour may help them understand the facility, locations, site hazards, access points and where the work areas are before they start their job.

Hazard Awareness

Every contractor induction should include a list of all hazards around the workplace and what to know about them. Awareness of hazards prevents incidents from happening.

Emergency Contacts

Who are the emergency contacts? Who do you contact for different types of incidents and issues?

Incident/Accident Reporting Procedures

Most critical is to empower your contractors with the tools and knowledge on how to report an incident or near miss in the workplace. They may need to take photos and capture important safety information around what happened, why it happened and why how to prevent it happening again.

Site Access

What hours can the site be accessed and from where, is there a gatehouse, are there sign in processes and where do they sign in?

Standard Operating Procedures

What specific procedures need to be followed around safety on site, manual handling, confined spaces, electrical safety, traffic management and other common safety topics?

Safety Policies

What important policies need to be acknowledged and understood before the contractor carries out any work

Emergency Evacuations

What does the evacuation alarm sound like, where do contractors need to proceed to in the event of an evacuation? Who are the fire wardens?

Hazardous Substances

What do contractors need to know about all hazardous substances on site, where are they and what to do in the event of a spillage?

Safety contacts

What are your contact details, who is in charge of safety for the site and how do they reach you in case of an emergency? 

Records of Inductions carried out:-

Once you have completed the contractors or visitors induction, this is just the beginning. You need to keep a record that each contractor/visitor has completed the induction training and this should be countersigned by the contractor/visitor to acknowledge completion and understanding of all the information contained in the induction materials.

You will need to keep these records to confirm that the induction was carried out should there be an incident requiring notification to the regulator. There will be requirements to manage the storage of this information to protect the privacy of any personal details as required by the Privacy Act.

If the induction expires after a given time then you will need to have a system that identifies when a contractor/visitor needs to do a refresher induction and how that refresher will be scheduled and carried out.

Your system for creating and storing completion records confirming that a contractor/visitor has completed their induction training should allow your staff to quickly check and confirm that they have completed the induction prior to being allowed to start work on your site.