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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

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Safeguard Magazine

It’s academic—Successful contracting

What are the factors which influence health and safety performance in the contracting chain? HILLARY BENNETT reports on her research for the Business Leaders’ Health and Safety Forum.

The identification of these “success factors” informed the development of the Forum’s Contractor Initiative. Launched in June 2014, the initiative supports chief executives to take a leadership role on improving health and safety in their contracting chains.

The success factors were identified through a review of:

  • • 
    The existing literature and research on contracting chains.
  • • 
    A literature review Health and safety in the supply chain: The role of leaders and management in the contracting organisation, completed by Research New Zealand for the Forum in November 2012.
  • • 
    Transcripts of interviews with six Forum members on leadership of safety in the supply chain, by Research New Zealand.
  • • 
    The Forum’s existing CEO Safety Leadership model.

The review also identified that strong leadership is required to ensure these success factors are incorporated into health and safety in the contracting chain. CEOs in particular require a mindset and practices that are supportive of these success factors.

The 12 success factors are:

1.
RESPECT AND VALUE SHOWN FOR, AND BY, ALL PARTIES
Acknowledging and valuing all parties working in the contracting chain is core to driving health and safety. Respect builds trust and underpins transparency, communications and collaboration. Respect does not happen by chance but must be nurtured.
2.
FOCUS ON BUILDING LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIPS
Making an effort to build long-term relationships with contractors is beneficial. Principal organisations which take a long-term perspective select contractors based on “best value for money” rather than on lowest price.
3.
CLIENT/FOCAL COMPANY “INTERVENTIONIST” APPROACH
Improvements are most likely when the principal organisation intervenes directly, for instance by requiring contractors to adopt certain policies and practices. “Interventionist” approaches must be supported by appropriate external social, political and regulatory pressures.
4.
COLLABORATIVE APPROACH
Involving contractors, and third parties like unions, in health and safety leads to better engagement and outcomes. This involvement can include things like joint goal setting and planning, workshops to identify needs, agreement on standards, and sharing knowledge.
5.
CLEAR CONTRACTUAL AGREEMENTS REGARDING GOALS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Setting clear expectations through policies, procedures, and standards has a positive impact on performance, as does clarifying contractual responsibilities. Common expectations provide alignment and a common focus for all parties. There is also evidence that pre-tender vetting, procurement and tender requirements, and imposing standards are helpful.
6.
MUTUAL ADOPTION OF CODES OF CONDUCT AND INTERNATIONAL FRAMEWORKS
A joint commitment to agreed codes of conduct, guiding principles and frameworks can drive consistency of health and safety systems and practice in contracting chains.
7.
COORDINATION AND PLANNING
It is essential to provide sufficient time to work with contractors to plan ahead, consider the risks and how to manage them. Regular meetings are also needed to discuss and coordinate work at all levels across the contracting chain.
8.
INFORMATION GIVING AND SHARING
Sharing information and expertise across the contracting chain – vertically and horizontally – improves performance. Examples include inductions, daily pre-task briefings, and anonymous near-miss reporting. Both verbal and visual communication should be used.
9.
CAPABILITY BUILDING WITHIN THE CONTRACTING CHAIN
Organisations that support contractors by sharing processes and resources see performance improvements. Examples include providing reporting forms, training, and access to safety culture assessments, or seconding staff to help contractors with safety.
10.
MONITORING, REVIEWING AND EVALUATION
Principal organisations need to actively monitor compliance with these agreements, review progress during the contract, and evaluate outcomes at end of contract. Examples of this include assurance audits, weekly site tours, and a confidential reporting line.
11.
RECOGNITION AND SANCTIONS
Recognition of good health and safety management, engagement and outcomes is important to foster and embed sound practices. It is equally important that contractors know that there will be sanctions for not complying with requirements and for unsafe practices.
12.
SUPPORTIVE REGULATORY FRAMEWORK AND INSPECTION
Attempts by principals to improve health and safety in their contracting chains are not effective without a supportive regulatory framework and regular regulatory inspection. A regulatory approach combined with the efforts of principals is most likely to achieve success.

HOW THEY FIT TOGETHER

How these success factors relate to each other has not been examined in the literature to date, so Leading Safety created an organising framework to do this. The rationale for the framework is as follows:

  • • 
    The core principle of respect is central to achieving positive health and safety performance in a contracting chain.
  • • 
    The approach taken by the principal organisation needs to be interventionist, collaborative, with a long-term focus.
  • • 
    This approach needs to be supported by several enabling processes, as described above.
  • • 
    All this needs to occur within a supportive regulatory and inspection framework.

THE CONTRACTOR INITIATIVE

The Business Leaders’ Health and Safety Forum used Leading Safety’s research to inform its Contractor Initiative, which encourages chief executives to use their influence to improve health and safety standards in their contracting chains.

The 12 “success factors” uncovered in the research were incorporated into the Forum’s CEO Contracting Self-assessment. This 20-minute online self-assessment enables CEOs to examine their beliefs and practices regarding contractor safety, and to uncover areas for development.

The research also informed the development of a guidance document which provides examples of practical things CEOs can do to improve the safety performance of their contractors.

The Contractor Initiative, launched to more than 400 business leaders at events around the country in June, asks CEOs to sign a commitment to lead on contractor safety in their businesses and industries. It also invites them to join a group of like-minded leaders who are willing to become champions for this important cause.

See more about the Contractor Initiative at zeroharm.org.nz under the “Our work” tab.

Dr Hillary Bennett is a director of the consultancy Leading Safety.

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