Contractors and smaller companies often find Health and Safety requirements challenging. The requirements outlined in tenders can be overwhelming. The Deputy Chairman of the Safety Institute of Australia, Nathan Winter, recently called on large companies to specifically ask questions to tenderers to confirm their understanding of the requirements.
He said that tender documents often simply include a statement, for example: “The tenderer will abide by all the safety processes and procedures of the tendering company”. It is assumed that the small business understands what is required and that they have allowed adequate resources to conduct these processes to the standards required by the larger organisation.
Quite often, smaller businesses are likely to submit a tender price that doesn’t allow for resources to meet safety requirements. Unexpected costs are then incurred by the contractor who didn’t fully understand what was required. And the larger business can face delays whilst the small business adapts to the requirements.
The challenges faced by small businesses when tendering for a job at a large company include:
- Limited resources – small businesses do not have the resources that large companies have. They do not have safety and health professionals on their staff or full-time safety directors. Whoever is responsible for safety also has two or three other responsibilities.
- Difficulty knowing what all the legislative requirements are and understanding exactly what must be done to comply.
- Knowing what costs are associated with compliance, including Worker’s Compensation premiums.
- Understanding all the terminology and jargon. For example, understanding what is meant by a JSA or Job Hazard Analysis.
- When Small Businesses supply more than one large customer it is almost guaranteed that their various safety systems and requirements will be different
- Big businesses expect small businesses to have a 5-star safety system and they expect them to deliver the job at minimal cost.
The WorkSafe Victoria website provides a downloadable Procurement Checklist for use when preparing tenders. Although aimed at the construction industry it is a valuable tool: http://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/pages/forms-and-publications/forms-and-publications/health-and-safety-in-construction-procurement-checklist-preparing-the-tender
By Janine Nicholson, myosh