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‘But they aren’t my employee’ Subcontractors still need to follow farm safety

Danielle Pasztor for Progressive Dairyman Published on 29 September 2017

Subcontractors. What are my responsibilities? What will I be held accountable for if something happens? Do I need to train them?

At some point, everyone will have a subcontractor on their dairy; whether it be a hoof trimmer, someone completing cash crop work for you or an addition or repair to your facilities.

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But when other companies and their employees are on your farm, what do you do? Let’s look at what to do when a subcontractor comes onto your property.

First things first

Someone is coming onto your property, into your facilities and working. It may be one person or multiple. They are unaware of your dedication to the health and safety of your team members, and they are unaware of the standards you have in regards to health and safety.

How will they find out that you expect the same of them? For their own protection, as well as that of their team members, your team members and your herd, having a policy in place for subcontractors outlining your commitment to health and safety, their responsibilities, the policies of the farm for health and safety, and the expectations you have of them will allow for shared knowledge.

Ensure that they receive the policy and sign at the bottom that they acknowledge that they have read and understand the expectations moving forward.

Have the proper coverage

Once you have decided the company or person you will be working with, you will need to ensure that they have the proper insurance. Given that they are working on your property and working for you essentially, you will need proof via a current WSIB e-clearance certificate that they have the proper insurance if something were to happen to themselves or their employee(s) that would result in lost time from work.

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If they are not properly insured, this will fall to your insurance. When someone is off work, their expenses need to come from somewhere. If it isn’t their direct employer or their own insurance, it will be yours. Ask for a copy of this certificate and keep it in your records, if needed.

Meet to discuss health and safety specifics

It is important that senior management and the health and safety representative meet with the subcontractor to discuss any safety issues that may be encountered during the course of the work performed. Is there something on the property they need to be aware of?

Perhaps you have a bull on the farm they need to know about. They may need to be made aware of the biosecurity precautions you have in place. This meeting should take place prior to any work being performed in order to be preventative and to protect everyone as best as possible.

After this meeting has occurred, ensure that any and all necessary measures are taken for any aspect of the project or work that impacts health and safety.

Moving on

Once work has commenced, it is vital to have regular “check-ins” with subcontractors. Are they following the safety protocol? Are they working in a safe and health-conscious manner?

Are they ensuring the health and safety of not only themselves, but all other team members on your farm? Should something be wrong, the time to speak is as soon as you see it or become aware.

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Part of their contract with you is to abide by your expectations of health and safety. If this is not being adhered to by one of their team members, it is up to you to discuss this with their supervisor or employer, and it is up to you that a resolution be made.

It may require you looking for a new hoof trimmer or having another company finish the project. It is a tough call, but if they aren’t being safe and you are aware of it, then you are responsible for the outcomes too.

Bottom line

Subcontractors are chosen for their skills and abilities, knowledge and performance. It is easy to overlook their actions, because they aren’t “our own” team members and they work for themselves or their employer.

However, we are naive to think that we aren’t responsible for anyone performing any work on our property. So be preventative, make expectations known and expect protocols and policies to be followed. The safety of everyone on your farm starts with you!  end mark

Danielle Pasztor
  • Danielle Pasztor

  • Farm Safety Specialist & HR Consultant
  • PeopleManagement Group Inc.
  • Email Danielle Pasztor

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