What are your duties in relation to contractors?
Put simply, you owe the same duty of care for safety to your contractors' and their workers as you do to your own workers.
As the business owner, you are responsible for managing all hazards that exist on your property, so you need to consider:
- the risks that contractors pose in your workplace, e.g. as a result of having less training in your systems than your employees, or being unfamiliar with your practices and processes; and
- the risks that they are exposed to as a result of your operations. You must take all reasonable steps to reduce these risks.
You need to ensure the contractor is made aware of hazards and risks they may be faced with, and how they are being managed.
The fact that a contractor may only be on your worksite for a short period of time or for a limited purpose does not reduce your obligation to minimise any health and safety risks they may create or be exposed to.
Important message : You cannot assume that the contractor will follow the right procedures, even if they have been hired for their specialist knowledge and skills.
You must ensure that the contractor has taken all reasonable steps to identify hazards that your specific property may present to them while they are carrying out their job.
Even after you know they are familiar with the risks in your workplace it is still your responsibility to make sure they are following your instructions & working safely to the environmental/physical conditions. This is because your obligation to provide a safe workplace is a non-transferable duty.
A non-delegable duty is a duty that a business or individual cannot contract out to someone else.
What are the duties of contractors?
Although you have a duty of care for the health and safety of a contractor's workers, the independent contractor you engage shares this responsibility. They must also take steps to ensure the the safety of workers (theirs and yours) and the site does not present health and safety risks.
This may require the contractor or labour hire company to consult with you regarding the safety of the site, and to implement processes to ensure work is carried out in a safe manner.
What is the best way of ensuring compliance?
Ensure you induct the contracting business to your worksite. The contractor must ensure that they pass the information to their workers.
Your induction for contractor businesses entering your worksite should cover:
- site entry, access and amenities
- relevant business policies, e.g. Fitness for Work policy
- any relevant safety procedures for the work they are required to undertake using your facilities, your terrain
- emergency response procedures
- you have a record of the induction & that it adequately covers all aspects on farm that present safety hazards to workers
- you have copies of any required permits or licenses appropriate to the work
- you update the induction if any aspects on farm change
- you have a contractor sign in so that you are aware when contractor workers are actually on farm.
If your contractor is not attending the workplace but sends their workers or subcontractors, you must ensure that the contractor is clearly able to demonstrate that:
- appropriate personnel are provided to do the work
- all workers are properly trained & carry the correct licenses & permits
- the Contracting Business has provided confirmation that they have provided the above to their workers prior to entering your workplace.
In summary, both you and your contractor share responsibility for safety while they are doing work for you, and you must work together to manage risks to the safety of workers. Consult, communicate and cooperate and you'll have a good working relationship which keeps everyone safe.
Originally published 05 August, 2020.