Accrediting land development contractors
South East Water has written to us in relation to the matter of accredited contractors for land development works, as follows: We have received valuable feedback from some of your members regarding our requirements. Consequently, we have reviewed the requirements of the invitation to apply (ITA) and will reassess the applications of all contractors currently on our probationary list.
Qualifications imposed on a single person have now lessened making it easier to satisfy the requirements of the ITA. Recognition of relevant prior learning will also be considered when assessing site supervisors qualifications against the requirements of the ITA.
We will contact all contractors on our current list with a summary of their compliance against the revised requirements by 6 November, 2009.
If you would like further details regarding the review or any other related matter, please do not hesitate to contact Terry Dalgleish or Tony Kukuruzovic on 9552 3230.
OAMPS raises burning issues
There are two burning issues – unregistered plant and WorkCover recovery policies - which if not clearly understood, can seriously affect any business, OAMPS says.
“It is imperative that we, as an insurance and risk adviser, do not turn a blind eye to potential exposures, simply because an underwriter’s costing at the time of renewal is attractive,” the company says.
“We take seriously, our relationship with this industry and particularly with the CCF. So we will continue to advise, educate and work towards realistic solutions.”
Issues in question
OAMPS’ concerns are the lack of understanding of possible exposure under Victorian law to incidents involving unregistered vehicles. “This, together with the aggressive attitude of WorkCover in recovery actions, relating to WorkCover claims, has us all walking a tightrope.
“Whilst we all work towards an incident-free environment, and have come a long way in safety management, when something does go wrong insurance needs to be reliable. Adequate protection is where reality and assumptions collide.
1. The unregistered equipment dilemma
In Victoria more than 50% of vehicles and mobile equipment are not registered. OAMPS is continually asking the authorities for usage definitions and some of the answers continue to be vague and confusing. The following are examples of queries raised:
• What public areas are deemed as public thoroughfares?
• Why is there so much confusion relating to registration requirements whilst loading and unloading?
• What is the position if unregistered equipment in a permit zone accidentally moves outside the area?
• What is the definition of restricted transit?
To protect a business the answers are simple but not practical. Many contractors are taking cost-saving risks. They are not prepared to listen to advice that when in doubt, registration or permits solve the problem. If clarity is not sought, OAMPS says, insurance policies in many cases may not respond.
The result is an even bigger disaster when a contractor believes it is doing the right thing and its insurer will not provide the expected protection. Some policies exclude all unregistered equipment on a public thoroughfare. Therefore without the protection of compulsory registration insurance, the business can be left stranded, the company says.
While OAMPS and the CCF continue to lobby for more cost-effective outcomes, we recommend that you at least seek advice. A poor decision could cost you your business and ignorance of the issues is not a defence.
2. WorkCover recovery action
This is more a time bomb than a dilemma and must not be underestimated. In half the states of Australia, when a workers compensation claim is paid the authority will attempt to recover the worker’s payments and costs from anyone they may deem as negligent. If the offending business or person has adequate public risk insurance they may be protected.
• Some public risk policies exclude labour hire and contractor’s employees.
• There is a lack of understanding relating to workplace responsibilities to labour hire staff, especially relating to workplace compliance and pre-existing disabilities.
• Many employers do not realise there can be massive penalties under public liability policies for WorkCover recoveries. Excess payments of up to $250,000 are not uncommon.
• Off-shore insurers often distort market pricing by not being aware of potential long-term recoveries. When the going gets tough they will often abandon the marketplace. This has been common over many years in our market.
• Lack of positive defence to flimsy action by weak insurers.
• The potential cost explosion created by underwriters can affect everyone, not just a poor risk.
• Avoid workplace incidents!
• Government legislation limiting the opportunity to recover outside the statute act (we are dreaming.)
• Pay extra insurance to limit exposure (flow-on effect not desirable).
• Do not use labour hire.
• Report and have all incidents investigated by your public liability insurer.
OH&S small business consultancies
The CCF has once again been able to access funding from WorkSafe to provide members with up to 3 hours free OH&S consultancy, providing advice or services on OH&S matters, that are impacting on you. To access this member service, please contact Peter Fisher on 9819 9170 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a registration form.
Traffic management code of practice
Peter Rodrigues, Downer EDI Works, has represented the CCF in the VicRoads review of the Worksite Safety – Traffic Management Code of Practice, which has been underway over the course of this year.
He has provided us with a copy of the draft document resulting from the review. A copy can be obtained from the VicRoads website at www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/code.
Members are invited to provide comment and, to that end, advice should be provided to email@example.com.
Members may recall that a successful, joint VicRoads/CCF materials testing forum was held at The Leonda on September 10.
As an outworking of that Forum, VicRoads has written to us advising of actions proposed to enhance the quality of surveillance and testing of materials. VicRoads intends to consult with the industry in relation to a number of proposed initiatives. Anyone wishing to represent the CCF in this consultative process should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Appointment of principal contractors
Construction regulations require that the principal contractor have in place a health and safety coordination plan (HSCP) as well as stipulating that the “owner” will be the principal contractor. The owner of the development does have the ability to appoint someone to this role if they desire and this could be a consulting engineer or even the contractor that will be undertaking the works.
Members are encouraged to clarify whether or not they will be the principal contractor as early as possible and preferably during contract negotiations.
As a result of the various obligations of a principal contractor, particularly the obligation to develop, implement and monitor the HSCP, a principal contractor may be required to be involved with and co-ordinate the actions of parties that they would not otherwise be directly involved with, for example landscapers, underground cable layers, inspectors or auditors.
The development, implementation and monitoring of the HSCP on behalf of the owner, will involve additional time and expense on the part of the principal contractor, which should be considered by members when costing a project.
In a workplace scenario a WorkSafe inspector would initially accept the verbal advice of the parties as to whether a PC has been appointed and authorised etc. They would generally accept this information at face value and issue reports/notices accordingly.
However, if an issue arises and the matter is then investigated further, the facts of the case would be established (i.e. how the PC was supposedly appointed). This would then be examined by the lawyers to see if compliance had been achieved. Ultimately the lawyer’s opinion may end up being tested in the courts which would provide us all with further clarity and precedence.
Contractors may be best advised to have in place a HSCP for the project even though they may not officially have been appointed.
Confined space rescue
Although it maybe industry practice to call CFA/MFB/SES to assist in an emergency, this alone is not considered sufficient or reasonable. The employer must have an initial first response and rescue capability.
There are some basics re confined spaces. Workers should stay connected via harness etc so that rescue can be effected ASAP. If workers need to be disconnected, they should have rreathing apparatus, and persons who are potential rescuers need to have it also.
The above needs to be embedded within the SWMS and workers given appropriate training, supervision etc.
In essence the employer needs to have a rescue capability built into an operation with the 000 call being a second back up support. The size of the work crew/rescue equipment needed, will be a function of the risk assessment, for the specific work situation.
It is not considered acceptable to simply rely on the emergency services as the first responder to retrieve a person in distress in a confined space. Members are often working in relatively remote locations.
Clearly the difference between life and death may be a matter of minutes. In any case, not every unit of the emergency service volunteers are equipped to carry out confined space rescue, and if confronted with scenario will call for back up with more delays.
WorkSafe’s Steve Thornley is available to offer further advice on confined space issues and may be contacted on 0421 416 028.
2010 building industry RDOs for a 38hr week are now on our website under Vic Workplace Relations and Training Calendar at: civilcontractors.com/Administration/Obout/Editor/Library/documents/VIC/WorkplaceRelations/AIG%20RDOs%202010.pdf