All companies, regardless of their industrial activity, rely on subcontractors for achieving some tasks. Sometimes, it is financially more interesting to hire subcontractors rather than doing the job yourself. In addition, the task could be achieved with the best quality service, if you choose the right subcontractor.
A contractor can rely on the services of subcontractors to fulfil some requirements of the contract established by the employer. The benefits can be important: rather than buying adequate equipment, training the employees and preparing the processes and procedures, a contractor can hire subcontractors with the best experience and adequate equipment to perform the job.
The intervention of subcontractors at the working site is bound by a predefined contract and should comply with the regulations of every country, and it should be under the company’s Quality & EHS policy. However, before the achievement of the tasks, there are certain steps to be considered when it comes to hiring subcontractors.
How to choose the perfect subcontractor for the task? How to make sure that everything is going according to plan?
First Step: Define the contract’s requirements
Setting the requirements and the goals in a contract defines the basics of all necessary interventions and monitoring of contractors and subcontractors on site.
In some cases, the contractor is not obliged to inform the employer that a subcontractor will be hired to perform a certain task. However, informing the employer is highly recommended.
Before hiring a subcontractor, a contractor should define the contract detailing the tasks and the framework.
- The location of the workplace
- The aim of the intervention
- The procedures and processes (in line with the company’s Quality & EHS policy)
- The main responsible
- The necessary equipment, qualified and number of personnel
- The skills and qualifications required
- The work permits
- Compliance with the Health and Safety requirements during the entire intervention
- Providing the appropriate PPEs if necessary
- The delivery date
- Some other requirements can be demanded depending on the industrial activity of the employer/company
In other words, all the requirements and expectations should be explicitly mentioned and clear in the contract. It serves as the basis for your prevention approach with subcontractors. In addition, it can protect the employer and the contractor in case of any deterioration of equipment/materials or deviation from the contract’s requirements.
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Second Step: Choosing the best subcontractor
Choosing the best subcontractor is very important in terms of the quality of the service provided and respecting the project’s budget. Having an evaluation matrix to evaluate the different and potential subcontractors can greatly help you with your decision. Therefore, once the objectives and the tasks to be performed are identified, the costs can be determined, the technical capacities and requirements, and the occupational health and safety indicators.
The subcontractors' evaluation matrix can contain:
- Their experience in the corresponding industrial activity
- Well-established occupational safety and health management & policy
- Has the necessary equipment, qualified personnel and work permits
- The costs defined by the subcontractor
- Or any other criteria fit and deemed necessary for your activity
It is important to establish this evaluation matrix to choose the best-fitted subcontractor to achieve the work with high quality. You should not hire the cheapest services as it may cost you more if the quality of the work is low. Where you may dedicate more budget to make the resulting repairs. Finally, having access to some feedback and other customers’ testimonials can be beneficial for deciding on the subcontractor.
Third Step: Risk assessment and prevention
Once the best and most appropriate subcontractor is chosen, you must make sure that the work to be done complies with the regulatory requirements. It is also important that the subcontractor complies with the internal regulations of the company.
Both subcontractor and contractor should be able to perform their activities in a secure and safe environment. The risk assessment is done before the beginning of any activity/task. The subcontractor and contractor visit the working site to identify all the risks and hazards related to the site's configuration, the activities and the equipment to be used. In addition, subcontractors and the contractor should be very careful if simultaneous operations are conducted on the work site. Usually, these visits are accompanied by an EHS officer.
As a Quality & EHS manager, you play a central and crucial role in this step. It is your responsibility to verify and validate all the various documents provided by the subcontractor. They must meet all your requirements and expectations. If this was not the case, a review of all the documents is mandatory, especially when it comes to guaranteeing the safety of all the workers.
The Quality & EHS manager is also in charge of organising the “Q & EHS reception” to all the external stakeholders, and transmitting all the necessary documents and instructions to the managers or directly to the entire team.
Fourth Step: Monitoring the subcontractor’s work/performance
Once everything is set, the subcontractor can start the assigned tasks. The personnel should always be compliant with the Quality & EHS procedures, to assure the quality of the work and their own safety.
If the subcontractor realises that they need a certain work permit to access some areas or achieve some other tasks, they must address this demand to the corresponding personnel in the company (the employer). Issuing these permits will allow the employer and the contractor to have an overview, monitor and control the possible encountered risks (e.g. fire permits). Therefore, risk management is an ongoing process, before, during and after the work is done.
It is important to supervise and monitor the subcontractors’ work on site. The aim of this monitoring is to ensure that the contract’s requirements are respected and met. The subcontractor’s personnel should all comply with the QHSE policy requirements of the employer. To make sure that all is going according to plan, informal and formal audits can be conducted by the EHS Manager accompanied by the Quality Manager and/or the project manager.
One should never forget that the prevention approach involves continuous communication between the company’s employees, who are directly affected by the presence of the subcontractor, and the subcontractor’s personnel.
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The Final Step: The post-intervention evaluation
Once the work is done, it is important to evaluate the subcontractor’s performance. Comparing the actual performance with the pre-defined requirements in the contract will help you evaluate the intervention in terms of Quality and EHS processes. The evaluation report will help you to identify the key indicators that will allow you to improve your future contracts and choose the most appropriate subcontractor for your project.
In addition to the post-intervention evaluation, it is important to record all the accidents and incidents that took place, to better improve the safety procedures and identify all the possible new hazards.
Nowadays, it is possible to digitise all the subcontractors’ management processes thanks to a digital tool. Using paperwork makes it difficult to keep track of all subcontractors and makes it more difficult to store information. A dedicated tool will allow you to trace all the steps of the project, from planning, selection, monitoring and audit. A digital platform will allow you to be automatically notified when the qualifications of workers are expiring, or if an occupational incident has occurred.
To go further:
> Improve your subcontractors’ management approach with BlueKanGo’s digital platform and its app Evaluation of subcontractors application (available on BueKanGo’s Marketplace)