Contractors on site is an unusual or atypical situation onsite and with that comes an increased risk that must be managed.  Managing contractors onsite means understanding the requirements, insisting on appropriate qualifications, insurance and job planning and being able to demonstrate these elements to an inspector…Why? Because the law requires that only persons who are Duly Qualified undertake works on a fuel site, particularly on the fuel system.

Recent Case Study

Following a tank integrity test that resulted in an explosion that hurled an 83kg chunk of metal hundreds of metres away into a public street damaging vehicles and resulting in minor injuries to the worker, the business that was building the next service station has been fined more then $160,000 for allowing an person who was not Duly Qualified to undertake tank testing.

The incident occurred in 2018, during the construction of a service station, when the owners plumber and gas fitter was pressure testing the integrity of the UPSS and the tank ruptured sending debris hundreds of metres into the street including a massive chunk of metal weighing over 83kg and causing minor injuries to the worker.

The service station owner has been fined $120,000 and $43,435 in costs for the incident.  The fine was reduced due to an early guilty plea

In making his judgment the Judge noted that the worker had no experience in pressure testing a UPSS and did not notify the site owner that the testing was to be done.

However the failures on the business side were also large contributors to the incident including that the business did not provide adequate instructions or supervision and they failed to ensure that pressure testing was conducted by a duly qualified person noting that such tests must be “performed by a third party who can certify the work. It is not permissible for a company to certify its own work”.

“There is a legal requirement for all businesses to ensure the safe operation of their sites and fines will apply, even when the contractor is operating outside of the businesses instructions” explains ACAPMAs Elisha Radwanowski.

“This requirement starts with the bare minimum of engaging appropriate qualified contractors.  In the fuel industry a lack of formal nationally recognised accreditation has created a grey area around what is a Duly Qualified Person.  The traditional response has been to ensure that contractors have demonstrated experience in the works they are conducting and hold industry training.  With the advent of the nationally accredited skills in fuel system introduction, supervision, install, maintenance and decommissioning cases such as these will start turning on whether the contractor held the relevant nationally accredited skills training to determine if they are a Duly Qualified Person under the Act” explains Elisha.

Why have a Contractor Management System?

It is a requirement under the law that businesses consult with third party businesses and contractors on safety at the workplace.

When engaging contractors this means;

− Ensuring that all contractors engaged are appropriately qualified

− Ensuring that all contractors are inducted onsite, providing information on the risks and hazards of the site

− Ensuring that when works are undertaken onsite that there is a mechanism for the communication of risks that the works will create, this is achieved through the preparation of Safe Work Method Statements, the use of Hot Work Permits and Work Place Clearance Group (fuel) forms that allow the specific risks of the works to be outlined and communicated to site staff, and discussed in the context of the broader site risks prior to works being undertaken

To meet this requirement the business should have a process or system for engaging contractors that are appropriately qualified, experienced and insured to undertake works, that they are appropriately inducted onsite and that onsite staff are appropriately trained in engaging with contractors.

What does a Contractor Management System look like?

The process, also known as a Contractor Management System should include a sign in and induction element as well as a site consultation element.  Site staff should be trained in the requirements of the contractor management system.

A good Contractor Management System has;

− Training for site staff on how to consult with and work with contractors

− A process for engaging qualified, experienced and insured contractors

− A sign in book for contractors that outlines consultation and site specific requirements – including appropriate blurb and Site Plan showing emergency response equipment and evacuation points

− A process for inducting contractors or recognising a generic induction to working on fuel sites

− A process for reviewing and consulting on risks through the use of Safe Work Method Statements and appropriate permits

A Contractor Management System is a live collection of actions, documents and processes. It does not need to be a structured “system” or folder – but all of these elements must be demonstrable onsite and must be designed to be appropriate to the particular circumstances of the business.

What help is available for Contractor Management Systems in the fuel industry?

ACAPMA offers a comprehensive set of resources and programs to address contractor management in the fuel industry.

In addition to the business level contractor prequalification scheme, the National Petroleum Contractor Recognition Scheme (NPCRS), that delivers confidence to sites that the business has passed a credit check, provided evidence of appropriate insurance and trained staff in the general hazards of working on a fuel site, ACAPMA also has an individual contractor recognition and development program – the Duly Qualified Person (DQP) program.

The Duly Qualified Person program, recognises the skills and experiences of fuel industry contractors, to learn more or register see; https://acapma.com.au/contractors/.  As part of the DQP program the ACAPMA RTO (RTO No. 45783) is now delivering nationally accredited training for contractors to demonstrate their competence to undertake works on fuel sites including;

  • Fuel Storage and Dispensing Site Contractor Induction Skill Set
  • Supervise Compliance with Fuel Storage and Dispensing Site Requirements Skill Set
  • Fuel Storage and Dispensing System Installation and Modification Course
  • Fuel Storage and Dispensing System Maintenance Course
  • Fuel Storage and Dispensing System Decommissioning Course

To explore the ACAPMA Course Catalogue of both industry and accredited training see; https://acapma.com.au/training/

ACAPMA Members can also access the Contractor Management Guide that includes template sign on sheets, induction notations and staff training resources by emailing employment@acapma.com.au

Here to Help

This article is general in nature and covers things to consider, implement and watch out for in your business. It is provided as general advice and you should seek further advice on your situation.  ACAPMA Employment Professionals are available to assist ACAPMA members via employment@acapma.com.au. ACAPMA membership is affordable at only $810inc GST per year for a single site and valuable with sites gaining HR advice support and representation as well as a raft of other benefits and discounts.  Visit: https://acapma.com.au/membership/   to learn more or to apply for ACAPMA membership.

Elisha Radwanowski BCom(HRM&IR)
ACAPMA

Adapted from an ACAPMA article first published in Convenience World June 2022

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