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In a recent article published by Sydney Morning Herald Online (July 25th 2011), the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union claim that, “There are 13,000 temporary foreign workers in construction in NSW, including 3000 working illegally.”

This is, of course, more than a simple issue of poor contractor management. There are two issues at hand here. The first is associated with the construction companies that knowingly and actively employ illegal foreign workers. The second is associated with those companies that un-knowingly hire illegal workers. While both present real issues around worker safety, it is the second example that this article will deal with. From a legal viewpoint it is less clear-cut, but it is also the easier issue solve.

The union also claims that, “Some temporary foreign workers, mostly from China and Korea as well as British backpackers, get away with using each others' safety induction cards because subcontractors fail to check their credentials or turn a blind eye to cut down costs.”

While most construction companies do demonstrate a duty of care towards their contracted workers, the majority of companies are most likely failing to collect all the information they need to know whether or not their contractors are compliant. With prosecution fines of up to $66,000 per illegal workers, it pays to have a reliable contractor management system in place.

It should be simple, shouldn’t it?
An effective contractor management system will be relatively simple, enabling you to collect, store, manage and track all essential contractor information: personal details, insurances, WorkCover registration, company ABN, training records, and whether or not their company has a compliant HSE system in place.

However, it’s essential that it does all of this well and reliably. While it’s not that difficult to collect the relevant information, management of that information quickly falls apart if you don’t have an automated system. So look for a solution that can store information and provide instant access and up-to-date reports. Tracking is probably the most important aspect of your ability to maintain contractor compliance.When your contractor management system can alert you to when a contractor is no longer compliant, for any reason,you build ongoing compliance for every contractor.

Information – it’s a two way street.
In essence,contractor management is an exchange of information between the contractor and the company.From a legal perspective, both groups are responsible for creating a safe work environment.So it makes sense to have a good contractor induction system that can work in conjunction with your contractor management system.The more effectively you are able to educate your contractors about your safety commitment and specific safety issues,the more likely they are to place a high value of safety when working for you.

So, while illegal workers may be “rife” and temporary foreign workers are banding together to beat the system by sharing safety induction cards,there is no need for companies who wish to remain compliant and avoid fines to fall victim.The market provides us with some very robust software options to manage our contractors.All you have to do is find the solution that best suits your needs.

Our online safety induction training program works equally well for both employee induction and contractor induction. Induction training can also take different forms at your place of business. For more information please do visit our website.
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