Higgins: How to Manage Painting Contractors On-Site During COVID-19

Managing contractors on-site always requires preparation and forethought to ensure that the job is completed smoothly and safely. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the health and safety obligations of organisations, meaning there are additional factors to consider when hiring painting and building maintenance contractors.

For site managers, it’s critical that the contractors you work with not only understand and abide by your state’s current social distancing and isolation laws, but that they also incorporate COVID-19 health and safety into their site plan. If your contractors are taking the right steps to provide a COVID-safe work environment, then you can have confidence that you’re also fulfilling your own duties.

So how can you tell if your painting contractors are doing the right thing? We talked to Higgins’ National Safety, Health, Environment & Quality Manager, Ben Cook, to understand what a good contractor looks like during COVID-19.

1. They document their work processes

A good contractor will document their work process, verifying in advance what they’re going to do and how they will do it. Once on-site, they will then follow this process to ensure the job is completed efficiently and safely.

“This is one of the biggest tells between a good and bad contractor,” explains Ben. “If they can’t flesh out how they’re going to do the job, you should be concerned.”

If your contractors can demonstrate this level of planning and understanding of what your job will entail, then you can have reasonable confidence that they’ll also be able to manage the risks. Which leads us to our second point.

2. They include COVID-19 in their risk assessment

The reality is that COVID-19 is currently a risk wherever people are gathered. Consequently, it should be included in any site risk assessment, alongside the controls that will be taken to minimise the risk.

“Higgins documents all of our COVID-19 health and safety requirements in our worksite risk assessments,” says Ben. “Then we ensure that every one of our workers who will be on that job site has read and understood the requirements, and signed onto that risk management plan.”

“Additionally, even if we’re not required to physically sign into a site each day, we’re still collecting that information as part of our own COVID-19 management.”

3. They’re accredited

This is a must whether there’s a pandemic or not. But it can also provide you with the extra confidence you need during COVID-19 that your painting contractor can manage the additional requirements.

“A third-party health and safety or risk management certification provides assurance that your contractors have the skills and understanding to prepare for, minimise and respond to the specific hazards on each site,” says Ben.

“Particularly when faced with the unique situation of a global pandemic, you want to be confident that your contractors have a sound risk management framework that they’ll use to control hazards.”

Higgins has internationally recognised Tri-Certification Accreditation in ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 to demonstrate our commitment to safety, quality and the environment.

How is Higgins staying COVID-safe?

Some of the ways that Higgins is minimising the risk of transmitting the coronavirus and abiding by Australian laws, include:

  • Mandatory flu shots for all staff nation-wide
  • Limiting the number or workers in each physical location to ensure social distancing
  • Increasing the barricades and signage around a site
  • Providing hand sanitiser and other hygiene measures for employees
  • Providing masks for employees where required by state laws
  • Nationwide company directive to stay home and get tested if workers have any symptoms
  • Publishing internal COVID-19 Management Guidelines for all employees
  • Staying up-to-date and complying with the most recent state and industry laws

If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to ensure the contractors you’re engaging are taking all facets of workplace health and safety seriously, use the information provided in this blog along side the information provided in our free downloadable ebook: Workplace Health and Safety Guidelines for Engaging Painting & Maintenance ContractorsDownload it today – it comes with a handy checklist to make your life easier.

Author: Ben Cook, Higgins Coatings

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