With shipments constantly coming in and going out, warehouses and distribution centres need to have solid systems in place to keep everything running safely. Those systems need to be conveyed to any outside contractors you bring in, says Troy Nel, WSPS Health and Safety Consultant, to ensure no hazards arise and safe work procedures are followed during their work.
“Warehouses and distribution centres have contractors working in their facilities all the time,” says Troy. “They may be installing a new piece of equipment or building an extension onto the facility. Or they may be coming in to change the carpets, refill the vending machines, or deliver new uniforms. We’re talking about any third-party worker who comes into the facility to complete a task, other than temporary workers,” explains Troy.
In these situations where contractors are coming into your workplace, the main question is usually about who is responsible for health and safety—the warehouse facility or the contractor’s employer. “The answer is both, so there needs to be coordination,” says Troy.
Here are the steps you need to take to ensure you are fulfilling your responsibilities under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
7 steps for effective contractor management
Troy outlines a few things to address before contractors arrive at your facility and then discusses what to do when the work starts.
The contractor should provide a valid clearance certificate, but it’s a good idea to check yourself. This can be done easily online by visiting the WSIB’s website and searching by company name. “Remember to check the certificate’s expiry date to make sure that the contractor is covered for the duration of the contract,” says Troy. You can also check a contractor’s injury history by using the WSIB’s free Safety Check.
Create a contractor health and safety package for your organization. This document should clearly state the health and safety expectations you have for anyone coming in to perform work at your facility. It should also define roles and responsibilities for all involved so that there is no confusion or grey areas. Include information such as procedures for entering and exiting the facility, where to find washrooms, exits, first aid kits, eye wash stations, etc. “This type of health and safety document should be sent to the contractor before they come to your workplace so that they can review it and ask any questions in advance,” says Troy.
Ask for a hazard assessment. Before work starts, both parties must have a clear understanding of exactly what work the contractor is going to do and how they are going to do it. Ask for a hazard assessment that identifies the hazards associated with each phase of the work and the controls that will be used to mitigate them. Emergency response or rescue plans should also be provided if the work requires them.
Collect proof of training and certifications. The hazard assessment will indicate if specific certifications are required, depending on the type of work being done. For example, if electrical work is going to be completed, ask for a copy of the electrician’s certificate of qualification. If workers will be on a roof or in a confined space, ask for copies of the required training certificates. When this is done in advance, it eliminates the chance that workers will arrive without their proof of training and need to be turned away.
Complete a health and safety orientation. Whether it’s one worker or a whole crew, a health and safety orientation must be completed before they start working. If it’s a group, identify the supervisor or the person who will act as the lead. Provide a tour of the facility, particularly of the area where they will be working. “It’s a good idea to review the hazard assessment as well,” says Troy. “When you’re dealing with a recurring service or regularly scheduled maintenance, you can review and document this information periodically to save you from having to do it each time,” says Troy. “As long as it’s the same workers returning.”
Monitor the work. “Obviously you can’t stand beside workers the entire time they are working, but you have to periodically check-in,” says Troy. Ensure that the work is being done according to the hazard assessment and that all health and safety requirements are being followed.
Evaluate the job. Once completed, assess the quality of the work. Consider whether health and safety rules were followed, or if you had to keep reminding the workers of the expectations. Document your experience with each contractor so that you can refer to it when hiring in the future.
How WSPS help
Connect with a WSPS expert to find out if you have gaps in your health and safety program regarding outside contractors.
Hiring and Managing Outside Contractors (3.5 hours, classroom)
Construction in Industrial Establishments (3.5 hours, classroom)
Contractor Health and Safety Awareness Training (1 hour, eCourse)
The information in this article is accurate as of its publication date.