Managing subcontractors’ health and safety

15 Aug 2018

Salman Khan, EHS Head for Siemens in the Middle East and North Africa, looks at how they manage large numbers of subcontractors, the subject of his presentation at IOSH 2018

Huge numbers of organisations use subcontractors. This can include skilled or unskilled labour on complex, small or large projects.

However, it is widely acknowledged that use of subcontractors greatly increases the risk of an incident where many lives could be at risk, as a result of poor management.

Subcontractors represent you to the customers and to the world. Their values and beliefs system will resonate as yours while they are engaged in work. Apart from the direct operational risk, there are also many soft risks with huge impacts, causing risk to reputation, implied liability and political bias

How do we manage this? How do we change subcontractor behaviour so they reflect our values and beliefs to the world? How do we manage both operational and soft risks? How do we create a true partnership with our subcontractors?

All stakeholders, from senior management and procurement to project management and planning field service, play a critical role in effective subcontractor management.

We have used a combination of many tactics, one of which is a Human Performance (HuP) behavioral-based safety programme that provides an insight and assists in the realisation that humans make errors and how to design management systems to prevent these errors from resulting into an incident.

This programme identifies causes of human errors and provides specific tools to help eliminate them. It empowers employees, regardless of title or tenure, to contribute equally to the safety and operational excellence of our organisation.

To expand on this a bit more, an organisation’s safety culture is shaped by systems that provide a clear framework and personal values shared and accepted by all employees.

Behaviour is driven by system requirements such as laws, rules, procedures, values, attitudes and commitment.

People bring to their job their own personal mix of skills, knowledge, experience, attitudes, motivation, habits and personality. These individual characteristics influence behaviour in complex and significant ways. It is important to recognise where changes to these characteristics might be needed and what methods might best be needed to make these changes.

HuP sessions were offered to variety of our subcontractors to leverage their importance as our partners and drive the message of ONE team. Blue-collar workers were given the confidence that they have an authority to stop work if they feel it is unsafe. This mindset needs to be inculcated into their DNA through continuous engagements and coaching.

The feedback received from the subcontractors and workers was that never before had they received such a level of engagement and a programme focused on behaviours rather than technical safety.

The journey did not stop here when this training was upgraded by the addition of topics like normalisation of deviance, group conformity, managing maintenance errors and culture of care as an enabler of human performance.

Want to hear more from Salman about subcontractor management? See him at IOSH 2018. Book your place here.




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