Contractor Prequalification New Zealand | Hasmate
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Contractor Prequalification

Contractor Prequalification

(Originally written in 2016 – but still very appropriate now!)

If you are thinking contractor prequalification is just another management buzzword that has a number of compliance fish hooks, you are 75% right but on the other side of the ledger, it can have a number of advantages.

What is contractor prequalification?

In the yesteryears of ISO 9001, this was called supplier appraisal – in this new age of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, it’s called pre-qualification (a relatively new term to the NZ health and safety vocabulary).

If you are a contractor supplying or intending to supply your services to central or local government, government departments, port companies, electrical suppliers and other large industry players, I suggest you take note.

Why? If you are not onboard with it, this could be something that could prevent your business from trading with these organisations and other businesses in the very near future.

Why is it happening?

As we all know, if you are an owner/executive/director of a business, you are the PCBU. If you have a senior role in the business and the ability to influence change, you are defined as an officer of the business and in many cases, also the PCBU.

As part of your PCBU responsibilities, you now have the responsibility to manage “workers” in your business – this now includes contractors, subcontractors, their employees and others.

In the past, the methods to do this and to ensure that contractors have all the H&S requirements in place was to either:

  1. Do nothing and take the risk; or
  2. Ask them if they had H&S systems in place and to take their word for it;
  3. Send them a letter setting out your H&S requirements;
  4. Meet with them and to eyeball what they have in place;
  5. Or, have them assessed by a third party.

Those days will shortly be over, as the chain of responsibility is now starting to unravel.

So how does contractor prequalification work?

Over the past twelve months, a number of larger health and safety providers had recognised that contractor management was an area that was not being well managed. Supplier assessment is a process that happens in the UK and Australia, and has fast become a prerequisite to do business. With the now prescriptive PCBU responsibility for the effective management of contractors, this has now brought contractor management to the fore.

The assessment providers have established a number of different approaches whereby they are contracted to the larger companies to assess and to review the client’s recognised contractors’ H&S systems against a given criteria.

The assessment will be based on:

  1. the size of the business or
  2. the number of employees in the business.

From the presentations I have seen to date, the assessments will be based on the contractor registering and then providing paper based evidence for review against the given criteria. From this, the results will be posted on a software portal for the contractor and PCBUs to view. Where a contractor scores in a certain range will depend on what help they need to bring their H&S systems into an acceptable range of compliance.

The outcome will then provide the PCBU with an independent assessment to make an informed decision of which contractors they will employ in the future.

For many smaller contractors, this may sound over the top but I suggest that if you have not addressed your H&S responsibilities, then think again. Remember, Denial is not just a river in Africa. For many contracting businesses and others supplying services to industry, this will become a prerequisite to do business in the future, and in the long term can be beneficial for your business.

It’s my opinion that prequalification is overdue, but I believe that the WSMP achievements of businesses must be taken into account in the assessment process and in the final decision by the contracted assessors.

Interesting times ahead! Watch this space if you are an accredited WSMP company…

For any questions regarding how the Hasmate program can make contractor management, training, recording and reporting easy for your business, please contact us today.

Related articles – Frustrations with Contractor Pre-Qualification