The issues surrounding labour hire can be wide-ranging and complex. To manage personnel hired through a labour hire agency with ease, identify the corresponding WHS requirements relating to management and control.
The key points to note are as follows:
- 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
Be sure that the labour hire personnel are suitable, qualified and competent for the work they are required to carry out. They must also ensure that their work will not cause harm to themselves, to others, or to the environment.
Systems and processes have also been set in place to do this without inflicting a hefty cost burden on the organisation.
For all company personnel who are involved in engaging, managing or supervising persons hired through labour hire agencies, there are two critical WHS legal obligations to be aware of. These are:
- The Labour Hire Agency (LHA) has a responsibility as an employer/PCBU for the health and safety of its employees/workers.
- Your 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.
Before you hire from a LHA, a job assessment should be conducted to clarify the duties of the labour hire personnel. His or her tasks should be clearly stated, including:
- 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.
A copy of the complete job assessment should be provided to the LHA, and in turn, they are required to demonstrate that it has been used to select the suitable worker for the job.
A risk assessment should also be carried out 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
- Request health and safety improvements (where applicable)
In any case where health and safety improvements have been requested, and where the changes are justified, the host company is required to implement these changes prior to the commencement of the labour hire contract.
It is also important for the labour hire contract to stipulate that both the host company and the LHA have equal responsibility for the worker’s health and safety.
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)
- Carry out their work in a manner that does not present risk to themselves, to others, or to the environment.
In addition, 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 workers compensation insurance arrangements and programmes for return to work and rehabilitation for injured workers
- Provide insurance arrangements, as appropriate to each job
The host company should also ensure that the worker selected by the LHA is suitable for the job, in accordance with the criteria stipulated in the job assessment.
Once the agreements have been approved, training and induction should be provided to the worker to familiarise them for the job.
All labour hire personnel should be provided with appropriate supervision and instruction while they are engaged by the company, on top of which arrangements must be made to ensure regular communication between the worker, the supervisor and the 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 outlined 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 incident 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
- WHS performance
- Information, instruction and training
Any issues, non-conformances or suggested improvements identified, should be the subject of your corrective action process.