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How to effectively manage the Labour Hire WHS conundrum

Posted by Robert O'Neill on Nov 26, 2012 1:48:00 AM
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1_worker definitionIn this article we look at the Labour Hire conundrum and identify the WHS requirements associated with the management and control of personnel hired through a labour hire agency.

We address the legal obligations of your organisation and the Labour Hire Agency, the job assessment, the labour hire contract, worker selection and induction, management and monitoring of the contract, and finally review.

Now lets be clear, you must ensure that labour hire personnel are suitable, qualified and competent for the work they are required to carry out and that they carry out their work without harm to themselves, to others, or to the environment.

Now how do we do this without allocating a disproportionate cost burden on the organisation?

Answer: systems and process!

All managers and other company personnel who are involved in engaging, managing or supervising labour hire personnel, must be advised that:

  • the Labour Hire Agency (LHA) has a responsibility as an employer/PCBU for the health and safety of its employees/workers; and that in addition,
  • the company is acting as a Host Employer and has equal responsibility for the health and safety of engaged labour hire personnel working for the company or on the company’s premises.

Prior to engaging an LHA, an assessment should be undertaken on the tasks required to be carried out by the labour hire personnel.This should include:

The work to be done, including details such as

  • Job title
  • Tasks that make up the job
  • Machinery, appliances or equipment to be used
  • Substances and materials to be used
  • Physical demands of the tasks (bending, twisting, reaching, lifting etc.)
  • Supervision and reporting structure of the job
  • Procedures to be used
  • Instructions and/or training to be provided
  • Working hours – include after hours work
  • PPE requirements
  • The work environment
  • Physical location of the job
  • Does the job require entry into confined spaces?
  • Extremes in temperature
  • Other hazards related to the working environment (outdoor work, air quality, vibration, noise, etc).
  • Requirements related to the worker
  • Qualifications (Licences, registrations, certificates, etc.)
  • Experience/knowledge/competency (including special skills)
  • Physical capacity necessary to perform the tasks.
  • Prescribed standards for numeracy, literacy and conventional reasoning.

Unless already available, a risk assessment should be carried out for the job.Copy of the complete job assessment should be provided to the LHA which should be required to demonstrate it has been utilised in selecting a suitable worker for the job.

In addition, the LHA should be required to conduct a worksite visit to verify the assessment, ensure legislative compliance, identify any other risks and, where applicable, request health and safety improvements.Any requested improvements should be assessed and, if justified, implemented prior to the commencement of the labour hire contract.

The labour hire contract should stipulate that while the company has responsibility for the health and safety of the labour hire personnel, the LHA has equal responsibility to ensure the health and safety of its employees/workers.In addition, the contract should require labour hire personnel to:

  • comply with all the requirements of the company’s WHS management system, including procedures, work instructions and other requirements;
  • comply with instructions given by authorised personnel (i.e. managers and supervisors); and
  • carry out their work in a manner that does not present risk to themselves, others, or to the environment.

More specifically, the LHA should be expected to carry out the following:

  • obtain relevant information about the job
  • obtain information from the company to determine the potential hazards their employees/workers may be exposed to
  • consult with the company on ways that identified risks can be controlled
  • have a written agreement with the company that outlines expectations and responsibilities
  • provide generic WHS induction and training to ensure work is done efficiently and safely
  • regularly visit the worksite and have effective consultation processes in place with their employees
  • have a documented WHS management system
  • have a workers compensation insurance arrangements and programmes for return to work and rehabilitation for injured workers.

In addition, the LHA should also be required to provide insurance arrangements, as appropriate to each job.

The manager responsible for the labour hire contract must ensure that the worker selected by the LHA is suitable for the job, in accordance with the criteria stipulated in the job assessment.

Once approved, the worker should undergo induction as applicable to the job and any additional training that may be required.

Labour hire personnel must be provided with appropriate supervision and instruction while they are engaged by the company.

Arrangement must also be in place to ensure regular communication between the worker, the supervisor and LHA.

In the event of any change to the job, the LHA should be notified prior to that change.

The performance of the labour hire worker should be monitored to ensure the worker complies with all of his or her WHS related obligations, as stipulated in the contract.In the event of any non-compliance (e.g. not following WHS procedures or work instructions, unsafe work practices, etc), the LHA should be immediately notified.

In the event of any incidents involving labour hire personnel, the LHA must again be immediately notified, in addition to taking all other appropriate actions.

Once a labour hire contract has been completed, it should be formally reviewed.The review should include but is not limited to the following:

  • Task performance
  • HSE performance
  • Communication
  • Information, instruction and training
  • Supervision

Any issues, non-conformances or suggested improvements identified, should be the subject of your corrective action process.

General advice warning

The information on this site is of a general nature only. It does not take your specific needs or circumstances into consideration. You should look at your own situation and requirements before making any decisions. Please contact our Occupational Health and Safety Consultants for further information.

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