Most on-hire agencies and the host organisations that utilise their services strive to provide fair, safe and healthy working environments for individuals who take their job positions. Not only is it the right thing to do, it's also the law. As the revised model Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws clarify, all parties involved in a contracting arrangement retain duty of care towards contractors in on-hire.
For labour firms, part of these 'shared responsibilities' include verifying that the work sites are safe and conducive to maintaining good health. However, what happens if an on-hire agency needs to place a candidate quickly and doesn't have time to perform an in-person site inspection?
In that case, conducting a physical assessment is most likely considered outside the scope of what is 'reasonably practicable'. But that doesn't mean the on-hire firm can wash its hands and leave responsibility for the contractor's health and safety to the host organisation.
Instead, the labour agency must do what it can to make sure the site and job requirements protect the worker's health and safety. Here are a few steps the firm can take in lieu of carrying out a site inspection:
- Attain robust information about the industry, job requirements and working environment from the host organisation.
- Conduct an online employee induction with the worker before sending him or her to the job, covering the hazards and tips for staying safe in that environment.
- Carry out an assessment remotely via video conferencing, telephone, receiving footage or sending an inspection template for the worker to fill out.
- Discuss any concerns before the job commences and resolve with the host organisation.
By taking these steps, the labour firm can uphold its responsibilities to protects its workers' health and safety even if it's unfeasible to physically inspect a site prior to sending individuals for placements.
For additional information about managing labour hire arrangements, download our free e-book, Work Health and Safety for Contractors in On-Hire.