Thursday, 04 August 2016 14:36

Prequalification - is your business prepared for this?

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If you supply engineering or any other services you should be aware of what is on the horizon.

If you are thinking this is just another management buzz word 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 prequalification?
In the yester years of ISO 9001 this was called supplier appraisal, in this new age of the 2015 health and safety legislation, it’s called pre-qualification. This is a relatively new term to the NZ health and safety vocabulary. If you are a contractor suppling 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 on board with it, this well be a 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 should now know, if you are the owner of a business owner or executive or director 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 anything and take the risk.
   2. ask them if they had H&S systems in place and to take their word for it,
   3. to send them a letter setting out your H&S requirements,
   4. to meet with them and to eye ball the and to view what they have,
   5. to have them assessed by a third party

What’s is now emerging is that those days will shortly be over as the chain of responsibility is now starting to unravel.

So how does it work?
Over the past twelve months a number of larger H&S 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 clients recognised contractors H&S systems against a given criteria.

The criteria will work 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 a given criteria.

From this the results will be posted on a software portal for the contractor and PCBUs to view and then. 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 what 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 suppling 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.

The ACC WSMP Workplace Safety Management Practices Program
Where will this assessment (Audit) process fit with this recognised accreditation process?

An interesting question. From what I am hearing the businesses promoting the assessment process, they don’t appear to be placing too much credibility of the WSMP audit outcome.

This may be just a marketing ploy but having worked with the WSMP auditing process as an auditor and a HSE advisor for the past 24 years I really think this is an entropic view by the promotors of the assessment process.

WSMP has been proven to work as it has been around for 16 years and is proven to work with $$$ benefits for a business. It may not be perfect but what system ever is?

Having managed the H&S compliance with and for twenty businesses over the past fourteen years, all have achieved a tertiary level pass, will this assessment become just another cost to their businesses and for thousands of other NZ businesses?

There has been a lot of speculation about the future of WSMP and my sources tell me but no decision has been made about this even though one of the providers have stated it may be scrapped?
If is scrapped as suggested, then I can imagine many businesses will be up in arms about this. I personally can’t see this happening as unlike the proposed assessment process, the WSMP and WSD programs are government approved assessment (Audited) systems that are offered as a financial incentive to improve their H&S processes.

The real interesting point is that from what I have heard is the proposed assessment tool is similar to the lower level ACC WSD program, sent in the paper work and we will check it against a given criteria and give you a mark that will also be made known to the primary business.

The assessment will also a number of other questions like, insurance coverage and information of who the business uses for external H&S assistance and the providers qualifications and more.

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, what this space if you are and accredited WSMP Company.

An article prepared by health & safety expert Gordon Anderson owner of Hasmate Ltd