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education.vic.gov.au

School operations

Contractor OHS Management

Policy

This policy sets out to minimise health, safety and wellbeing risks in schools associated with the selection, management and monitoring of contractors and the works they undertake.

Summary

  • The Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act 2004 (Vic) requires schools, so far as is reasonably practicable, to provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to health, including when work is undertaken by contractors.
  • The principal and/or their delegate must manage OHS risks associated with engaging contractors and ensure that contractors are provided with relevant OHS induction, training and information. 
  • The principal and/or their delegate are responsible for ensuring that all contractors meet the requirements mentioned in this policy and that any OHS risks associated with the contractors’ activities are eliminated or reduced.
  • Under the OHS Act 2004, employees while at work must take reasonable care for their own health and safety and the safety of others who may be affected by their actions or omissions.
  • Central and regional offices provide a range of supports and services to assist principals and employees to be safe and well, including access to the OHS Advisory Service and local regional officers who can provide free advice on managing risks related to contractors.
  • Central office is vetting and pre-approving specialist OHS providers that can be engaged by schools for tasks or works, including:
    • arborists — tree inspection and maintenance specialists
    • electricians
    • first aid kit supply and inspection
    • hazardous chemical waste removalists
    • height safety specialists
    • management of beehives and swarms specialists
    • OHS consultants
    • plant and equipment inspection and maintenance specialists
    • playground equipment inspection and maintenance specialists
    • structural engineers
    • shade sail specialists
    • testing and tagging specialists
    • wildlife handlers — snake specialists

      For further information and to access the directory, refer to OHS Provider Directory on eduGate (staff login required). 
  • The principal and/or their delegate can request contractors currently engaged by the school if in the above categories be managed by central office by emailing employee.wellbeing.reforms@education.vic.gov.au
  • Specialist OHS providers can apply to become pre-approved by completing the application form, attaching relevant certificates, licences and documents and submitting their application form to the above email address.
  • The Contractor OHS Management Procedure (in the Procedure tab) must be followed and provides the practical step-by-step instructions to implement this policy.
  • This policy forms part of the Department’s OHS Management System, see OHS Management System (OHSMS) — Employee Health, Safety and Wellbeing for further information.

Details

For all contractors, the principal and/or their delegate must ensure that:

  • contractors who are engaged by the school are approved by verifying relevant details (as per the Contractor OHS Management Procedure) prior to the commencement of works
  • once contractors are approved, their details are added to the Contractor Register or equivalent template 
  • all contractors and sub-contractors are inducted using the Contractor OHS Induction Checklist or equivalent template

For contractors who work with children (for example, music lessons or sports coaching) the principal and/  or their delegate must ensure that they follow the Department’s policy on Working with Children and other Suitability Checks for Volunteers and Visitors which includes information on all suitability checks including Working with Children (WWC) Checks.

For contractors who undertake work in confined spaces, the principal and/or their delegate must ensure that the requirements outlined in the Confined Space Policy are followed.

For contractors who undertake high-risk works (for example, working at heights, demolition work, asbestos removal work, use of mobile plant such as forklifts) the principal or their delegate must ensure that:

  • in relation to high risk works, contractors provide a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) or equivalent, prior to the commencement of high-risk works (see Contractor OHS Management Procedure for further instruction)
  • the contractor’s SWMS is reviewed and signed to verify it has been sighted, prior to any works commencing and is retained on file

To manage the ongoing work of contractors, the principal or their delegate must ensure that:

  • general supervisory power is retained over general work undertaken by a contractor
  • if the contractor fails to comply with OHS requirements or is working in an unsafe manner, work with them to rectify the non-conformance with the contractor in question
  • if the contractor fails to comply after consultation, communicate to the contractor to cease work immediately. A contractor can then be issued with a Contractor OHS Non-Conformance Report if deemed required and the works be terminated
  • employees, volunteers, students, parents and visitors are informed of any risks, or any special arrangements that are put in place during contractor works
  • all incidents involving contractors are reported on eduSafe and investigated as per the Reporting and Managing School Incidents (including Emergencies)

Definitions

Confined Space
Defined as:

  • having an enclosed or partially enclosed space with restricted entry and exit
  • containing an oxygen concentration outside the safe oxygen range
  • containing a concentration of airborne contaminants that may cause impairment, loss of consciousness or asphyxiation
  • containing a concentration of flammable airborne contaminant that may cause injury from fire or explosion
  • risk of engulfment in any stored substance (for example, grain, sand or saw dust) except liquids

Examples of confined spaces include storage tanks, silos, ducts, chimneys, underground sewers, wells, or any shaft or trench.

Contractors
Include any service providers or individuals who are not direct employees of the Department who are providing services or works in relation to maintenance and repair work and other contracted services engaged by schools such as cooking demonstrations, sports coaching and other activities including workshops and excursions.

eduSafe Plus
The Department’s online hazard and incident reporting and management application accessible on the intranet. Employees log on using their employee number and password.

Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) is a document that describes the high-risk work being performed, the health and safety risks associated with the work and the risk control measures that will be applied to ensure the work is carried out in a safe manner.

A Job Safety Analysis (JSA) or equivalent may be used instead of a SWMS if it contains the same information.

Relevant legislation

Department policy on selecting, managing and monitoring contractors in schools

Reviewed 23 August 2021

Policy last updated

25 May 2021

Scope

  • Schools
  • School councils

Contact

OHS Advisory Service

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