How can Head Contractors simplify safety and add value?

Contractor Safety Health & Safety Maturity Assessments Management Systems Safety Culture

FEFO Consulting recently joined SAP on their Future of Mining podcast to discuss contractor safety. We also covered this topic in a recent workshop organised by the National Safety Council of Australia (NSCA).

What are the challenges when balancing productivity and external workforce safety?

Forbes recently published an article featuring FEFO Consulting, the Health and Safety Index. This article also included SAP Fieldglass research in collaboration with Oxford Economic study showing a massive 42% spend in the workforce on external labour. Not just in one particular industry – across them all. So it’s clearly an industry-wide issue that needed to be addressed.

Our own Health and Safety Index confirmed this challenge, by providing benchmarked results on safety, engagement, leadership and systems. We collated this from over 200,000 data point responses in asset intensive companies (based primarily in Australia and New Zealand).

Health and Safety Index  benchmark results uncovered that, compared to employees:

  • Witnessing colleagues compromise safety – all for the sake of shortcuts – 10% worse with contractors
  • Feel pressured to compromise safety to complete a job – 24% worse results with contractors
  • Observed workers violate safety rules – 9% worse with contractors
  • Bullying – Witnessed bullying to work colleagues –also 9% worse with contractors

In addition, the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI) published figures in December 2019 outlining, the percentage of contractor fatalities in ASX 200 companies.

70 percent of fatalities in ASX 200 companies were contractors.

ACSI, December 2019

This is not good enough. But what can be done?

External workforces often consist of short-term labour that’s expected to carry out complex, specialised work at speed as they interact with numerous stakeholders. In driving a high performance culture, don’t put productivity before safety. That leads to a culture of rushing to get the job done, as opposed to looking after your workmates and coming home safely.

Can we minimise risk by simplifying processes and making cultural changes?

As the Principal or Head Contractor, can you treat a small sole trader contractor differently to a large multinational company tendering for a 5-year contract?

The short answer? Yes. The is often a fear of legal breaches leading to over compliance and over the top (OTT) paperwork! For this, we recommend a risk-based approach to managing compliance and also create high performing cultures.

Here are some quick tips:

  • Segment: Take a pragmatic, risk-based approach by segmenting suppliers based on parameters that help differentiate companies based on risk and contractor maturity
  • Risk Treatment: Select, engage, mobilise, manage and monitor suppliers based on their risk profile that adds value
  • Technology: Apply technology to simplify, gain efficiencies, and improve the user experience
  • Expectations: Enable culture improvements by setting clear expectations that balance safety with production
  • Recognise & Redirect: Recognise positive performance and create a great experience so external workers can easily follow processes and model expected behaviours. Provide coaching and redirection when things are quite right.

Where are opportunities to innovate?

The external workforces provides a lot of areas in which we can find innovation opportunities. We urge all organisations to avoid focusing purely on compliance when managing contractors, and think about the numerous ways suppliers can add more value.

“If you want a basic focus on compliance, ask contractor pre-qualification questions that are only based on compliance.  If you want to create a collaborative culture of innovation, ask pre-qualification questions to challenge and motivate contractors to add value, i.e. adding health & safety value to both their own and your supply chain.”

Mark Wright

Getting insights right from the source is the best way to improve your workplace safety, and adapt quicker to fast-moving risks and threats.

If you need some guidance in optimising the safety of your contractors, contact us today.

Download our Guide: 6 Steps to Contractor Safety

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