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New Resources and Hacks for Managing Contractors

New Resources and Hacks for Managing Contractors

If you're a Principal Contractor, you know that managing contractors is often challenging. Whether your project is simple, or so complex it gives you a complex, we're going to introduce some resources and hacks that can make your life simpler, ultimately leading to improved contractor management and project success.

First, we'll introduce the new resources and then discuss strategy hacks.

New Resources for Managing Contractors 

As many Principal Contractors (PC's) engage subcontractors to perform most, if not all, trade-related project activities, their workplace safety needs are different. This is why we have created three new contractor management resources. They will help PC's keep their workplaces safe, efficient and effective. They include a:

The SWMS (only) pack supplies 32 common-use (or core) SWMS, instead of the 100 SWMS in our Construction SWMS Pack. 

These 32 were chosen because while most SWMS are supplied by subcontractors, the 19 work-method and 13 tool-specific ones we provide focus on core controls and situations. They enable supervisors and project/site authorities to manage contractors with sufficient awareness to be effective, and also support substantiation and record keeping to prove due diligence. 

These 32 SWMS templates enable ease of implementation, effectiveness and step-by-step procedural efficiency. They also represent a 50% discount compared to if you purchased them individually.

The OH&S Industry Pack is a complete ISO 45001 OH&S Management System and the 32 core Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS). The eight-part breakdown and inclusions can be viewed here, and this pack also represents a substantial saving due to its comprehensive inclusions. 

Finally, the WHS Industry Pack is the AS/NZS 4801 and Work Health and Safety (WHS) legislation version. It has a complete AS/NZS 4801 WHS Management System and a set of 32 core Safe Work Method Statements. 

These have been developed in response to customer requests and our observations concerning the challenge of contractor management.  

We have always offered tailored versions of SWMS packs, as well as Industry Packs and systems, and these popular solutions still exist - but these new packs will be an even better solution for many.

Now, let's identify some management specific strategies.  

Strategies for Managing Contractors   

These hacks relate to:

  1. Supervision,
  2. Documentation,
  3. Quality Assurance (of SWMS),
  4. Contractor Competency, and
  5. Following the forms and using the system.

Strategy 1 - The Open and Positive Art of Contractor Management

To convey your expectations, project requirements, deadlines and more, you should encourage open communication and build a positive working relationship. This is best done by explicitly requesting it and being noticeable when you do the same yourself. 

Simple steps you can take to improve open communication include:

  • Providing the necessary contact information for them to contact you and address any concerns or queries quickly.
  • Modelling and encouraging active listening. This means giving full attention, confirming understanding before moving to the next topic, and not speaking over or past each other. 
  • Ensuring everyone feels comfortable when expressing thoughts and ideas. Team members who feel safe speaking up are likelier to share insights and collaborate effectively.
  • Rewarding transparency, questions and feedback. 
  • Creating a culture of curiosity and continuous improvement.
  • Keeping your contractors informed about project progress, changes, and important updates. 

To build a positive working relationship, consistently treat contractors fairly and respectfully. If you do this, you will usually have the respect returned. Some simple ways to demonstrate fairness and respect include:

  • Recognising individual worker expertise,
  • Acknowledging specific contributions to the project. 
  • Addressing concerns promptly, and 
  • Provide feedback that recognises the positive more than it points out the negative.

These simple tips can create a culture of open dialogue, collaboration, understanding and rapport, which will, in turn, cultivate motivation, loyalty, and a sense of camaraderie. 

Strategy 2 - Managing Contractors with Documentation

Effective communication is the cornerstone of successful contractor management, and quality documentation is therefore critical. It should clearly define roles and responsibilities, reduce confusion and overlap, and assist in your contractor management processes.

Developing a comprehensive and safety inclusive Contract Agreement is a good place to start. Not only is the contract vital to protect the business interests of all parties, but by including provisions and allowances for WHS/OH&S compliance, the cause of safety is advanced. Clearly outline the terms, conditions, expectations and contractual obligations - and seek legal advice if necessary. A robust contract can also be a robust safety tool!

In addition to this, and worthy of special mention, is our Subcontractor Management Forms Pack. This will help you, as a Principal Contractor, to ensure your subcontractors or subbies comply with your safety standards. It also saves you 37% OFF the regular accumulated items purchase price.

Strategy 3 - Quality Assurance and Managing Contractor SWMS

Both quality assurance in regards to safety, and your evidencing due diligence, is aided by your thorough checking of the SWMS that contractors provide. In particular, ensure that all high-risk SWMS are assessed. 

Some say giving them to contractors is easier, but be careful because you may open yourself up to additional liabilities. Contractors need to accept responsibility for their business. 

How do you know if their SWMS are up to standard? Look for the following:

  • Thorough planning should be evident. Has it been thought through?
  • Does it communicate clearly? Is it step-by-step in format? Could you use it?
  • Does it prioritise safety?
  • Does it feature clear hazard Identification, risk assessment and control measures?
  • Does it address (or have provision to address) the specifics of your project, site, equipment, and tasks?
  • Does it identify the required competencies and qualifications for workers?
  • Does it stress the importance of, and does it facilitate, communication and consultation?
  • Is there evidence of reviews and updates? Is the document remaining relevant and effective?

Make sure you also retain a record of your conducting this assessment.

Strategy 4 - Assessing Competency as Part of Contractor Management 

Assessing the competency of construction site contractors is an unavoidable obligation. You must ensure they have the knowledge, skills, and experience to carry out the work safely and effectively. Things to look for include:

  • Qualifications and credentials. 
  • Experience and track record in similar projects, including information on previous PC's they have worked for.
  • Knowledge and understanding - best gauged through deliberate conversation and questioning.
  • Safety and compliance record.

Conducting a thorough assessment of a construction site contractor's competency involves understanding their abilities and making an informed decision about their suitability for your project.

Your competency assessment should also be ongoing and active. Regular site-work assessments and safety checks should be continued and unscheduled. Identify and mitigate potential hazards, ensuring compliance with health and safety regulations, and where appropriate, provide or arrange for ongoing safety training. 

This continuous monitoring and prompt addressing of safety concerns should also be documented as evidence of your diligence.

Strategy 5 - Implementing Both the Forms and the Systems

When used together, the forms and system create a framework for building your project hierarchy. When implemented with deliberate intent, everyone will understand their place within the overall project structure, the scope of work and specific deliverables for each contractor will be understood, and everyone's contributions will align to ensure a smooth workflow.

In Closing

It probably doesn't need to be said, but for the record, all our resources:

If the Principal Contractor's SWMS Pack, OH&S Industry Pack, or WHS Industry Pack are a good fit for you, you can access these straight from our website, and if you have questions or would prefer some other solution, we're always here for you. Remember also that the tailored package solution is still available, and the bulk and package savings remain. If you'd like to understand how our SWMS pack discounts are calculated, you can access that information here

Hopefully, you found both the hacks and new products helpful. Safety and helpfulness is what we do! If you have questions, requests or suggestions, call us and let us know. Phone 1800 304 336 to speak with us for free, no-pressure and trustworthy advice.

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