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09 Jan 2014

A question of trust

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How much room do employers feel comfortable leaving for contractor innovation and expertise? 

Businesses accept that they have to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of all workers, including contractors. But too often, there is uncertainty about ‘how far’ an employer must go to take reasonably practicable steps for his or her contractors.

An employer may seek to resolve ambiguity by simply ‘doing more’—taking over the role of the contractor, directing it about how to perform its tasks; by imposing its own process manual on the contractor; or by seeking power of ‘approval’ over the work methods or procedures employed by the contractor.

By so doing, the employer may be placing him or herself in a position of ultimate authority over how the work is to be done. Unfortunately, such an approach may well increase, rather than decrease, the legal risk to the principal and leave little room for the contractor to bring its expertise to bear and to implement best practice systems and process.

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Published in National Safety magazine, April 2013.

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