Gauteng Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  08 Sep 2014

HR: A Health and Safety Compliance Check May Be in Order


Recent Gauteng Business News

Facilities Management (FM) outsource service providers’ work on the premises of their clients. If they do not adhere to Health and Safety legislation and the requirements specific to their client’s operations, they can introduce risk into the organisation, impacting its people, assets and reputation. Pro-active creation of a live interface document can bridge health and safety gaps, says Arnold Sivhada, EHS Country Manager for Johnson Controls Sub-Saharan Africa

Health and safety is a key issue for organisations. Providing a safe and secure environment for employees is not only a priority but is mandated by the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Organisations that outsource functions to an FM provider often entrust management of contractors, sub-contractors and other third-party services in their environment to this provider. Ensuring the outsource service provider complies with local Health and Safety legislation, procedures and processes must thus be a priority or they may find themselves in contravention of legislation as well as their own Health and Safety policies and procedures.

Rather than relying on the client to drive the vetting process, forward thinking Outsourced FM providers proactively train their “on site” staff and continuously ensure contractors, sub-contractors and third-party service providers understand and adhere to Health and Safety requirements.

Pro-active outsourced FM providers may even add value where clients do not have Health and Safety policies and procedures in place. The ideal approach is, however, for the client and outsourced FM provider to jointly identify and agree the way forward to achieve a safe and secure environment for all employees.

Live interface document will bridge health and safety gaps

The reality of this scenario is that the prospective client organisation, the FM service provider and the contractors engaged by the FM service provider are all employers in their own right even though they may sometimes share the same workplace. As such, they are legally required to provide and maintain systems of work that are safe and without risk to their employees’ health, and provide information, instructions, training and supervision as may be necessary to ensure the health and safety of employees at work. With the FM service provider’s staff and contractors working in multiple facilities, and the staff of tenants in each facility potentially impacting or being impacted by the actions of these FM resources, the health and safety considerations can become complex – it needn’t be.

To comply with a client’s Health and Safety requirements, the outsource provider should:

Determine all applicable health and safety legislation governing its operations within the prospective clients environment and implement measures to ensure regulatory compliance; and

Seek understand requirements of the client’s health and safety procedures and processes as well as its own processes.

And the next step is vital: creating an interface document that bridges any gaps between the client and service provider’s processes. This needs to be a ‘live’ document that is regularly reviewed by both parties to ensure it remains effective in terms of mitigating hazards.

Should the organisation fail to ensure their FM outsourced service provider complies with relevant legislation, they may be faced with an increased number of accidents, incidents or fatalities, as well as damage to the organisation’s reputation. The cost of doing business is also likely to increase as a result of the direct and indirect costs of major accidents. In contrast, actively engaging on the issue with an outsource provider will assist both companies to anticipate the nature and complexity of the risks they may introduce to their businesses, assisting them to manage and mitigate those risks.

Vetting contactors, enforcing compliance, providing training

Outsourced FM service providers that are serious about health and safety issues will carefully vet sub-contractors. They also ensure that health and safety is part of their training and communication programmes.

Johnson Controls, as a FM outsource provider with decades of global experience, offering services across multiple industry segments, has some very specific best practices in place. These best practices are built on knowledge of regulatory requirements but also, and perhaps more importantly, many years of practical experience.

For example, each contractor is required to provide a safety plan, along with documentation that puts in place processes and procedures that ascertain that the conditions are met to ensure they carry out the work only when it is safe to do so. Training, which may cover health and safety or environmental awareness, legal compliance or technical training, is ongoing. To enforce compliance, health and safety performance is a key part of the contractual agreement with our clients, thus poor or non-compliance may result in early termination. The bottom line, however, is that there can be no compromise. At Johnson Controls we believe that if we can’t do the job safely, we cannot do the job at all.

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