Keeping third parties safe in your workplace: learn from an expert

Jan 12, 2015

Contractor safetySteel manufacturer ArcelorMittal Dofasco routinely has 300 third party employees working on site - and a comprehensive process to keep them as safe as its own employees. "We can't afford third parties on our property not performing to our expectations," explains senior health and safety specialist Steve Hinds. You may not have as many third party employees at your workplace, but ArcelorMittal Dofasco's third party compliance program still offers lots to learn from and apply.

An integrated steel manufacturer in Hamilton, ON, ArcelorMIttal Dofasco employs 5,000 of its own people to produce roughly 4.5 million tonnes of flat carbon steel per year for end uses such as automotive, construction, packaging. The company also relies on contractors, building tradespeople, suppliers, carriers, and trucking companies that transport steel from the site to customers in Canada, the U.S., Mexico, and elsewhere.

In business since 1912, the operation has a long-established health and safety program. In fact, one of the company's operating principles is that health and safety must be integrated into all business management processes. Hence, the third party compliance program. "We have a very rigorous process to ensure companies on our site are as safe as we are, embrace the same values we do around protecting people, and have a health and safety policy and programs to train their people," says Hinds.

The third party compliance program has four key components: qualification, commitment and registration, performance monitoring, and consequences. Each is described briefly below.

Qualification

All prospective third parties must go through a purchasing department process. If the work does not involve high-risk hazards, the purchasing department assumes responsibility for evaluating these companies, checking among other things that they're in good standing with the WSIB, have provided a current WSIB clearance certificate, and have the appropriate amount of liability insurance.

If prospective third parties will be involved in high-risk health and safety activity, such as construction, demolition, confined space entry, and needing fall protection, then the health and safety department evaluates the companies’ health and safety program.

The high-risk qualification process starts by having the companies complete an information package. "If the company doesn't have a policy or much of a program, and they've reported a number of lost-time injuries over the last 2-3 years, they are failed. They just don't have what we're looking for in terms of a mature program."

Commitment and registration

Third party companies that qualify must sign an agreement to follow ArcelorMittal Dofasco's health and safety program and management system. Furthermore, third party employees must sign an employee compliance agreement every year.

Monitoring

Once they're on site, the health and safety department monitors their work performance. If the work involves construction, the companies are evaluated when the job is completed.

Third party employees are also monitored. They are immediately identifiable through hardhat stickers received after the training. "That's how we know we have folks working on our site who have gone through the qualification," says Hinds.

Consequences

"If a company performs poorly despite having made it through our qualification process," says Hinds, "it will be excused from work on our site and taken off our compliant list." Conversely, companies that perform well will be eligible for progressive recognition, such as awards, and their positive results will be communicated within the organization.

Key success factors in ArcelorMittal Dofasco's third party compliance program include evaluating companies at various stages and involving multiple stakeholders in the process. This gives everyone a role to play in prevention, and ensures a minimum standard of performance.

"We see we have a very important responsibility in ensuring the health and safety of third parties on our site," says Hinds.1 "Involving everyone in the process keeps us all safe."

How we can help

From comprehensive course offerings to consulting expertise, WSPS can help you create and sustain a safe, healthy and productive workplace for all workers in your workplace:

1 Learn about Arcelor Mittal Dofasco's experience with radio-frequency identification in a session on RFID Technology Application for Health and Safety, led by Steve Hinds, at WSPS' national Partners in Prevention 2015 Health & Safety Conference & Trade Show, April 28-29 in Mississauga.

The presentation will be an overview of a new system we are installing, based on RFID technology, to keep track of people on our property, mainly for evacuation purposes.