Hiring Contractors & Consultants

Hiring a Contractor to Work on Your Farm?

Hiring a contractor to work on your farm can be risky business if the farm doesn’t evaluate the contractor before starting work.  There are questions a farm should ask and have the answers to before allowing the contractor to work on the farm.

What is the risk?

If a contractor is not evaluated for their health and safety performance, it can result in serious injury or death.  Their work may be excellent, but their actions may be cause for safety concern. They can put everyone around them in danger.   Working with a contractor means sharing a commitment to health and safety on the farm.  All workers including contractors on the farm should follow the same safety rules.   Even the very best contractors can cause an incident or injury if they are unfamiliar with the potential hazards on the farm.

We have developed a Contractor Questionnaire with a list of questions to ask the contractor before starting work to include, liability insurance, workers compensation insurance, and elements of a health and safety plan.

We have also developed a Contractor Management Plan to outline the expectations of the contractor when they work on the farm.  Laying out the health and safety expectations eliminates confusion and the potential for unsafe acts and conditions while the contractor performs work.

The Nova Scotia Occupational Health and Safety Act Section 14 Precautions to be taken by Contractors and Section 18 Self-Employed Persons’ Precautions and Duties includes the responsibilities in regards to their own health and safety but also the safety of others working on the farm.

The farm owner also has a duty to ensure the health and safety of all persons at or near the farm.   To do that, it would be reasonable to evaluate all persons working on the farm to include the contractors.

Start the evaluation process today using the Contractor Questionnaire.

Hiring a Health and Safety Consultant!

If you are interested in starting the process in building a Farm Safety Plan or having your current Farm Safety Plan reviewed, and would like the help of a third-party consultant, here are some hints and tips on hiring a consultant.

The most important thing when considering hiring a consultant is making sure you are comfortable with the person you a working with.  Regardless of the type of consulting they are doing it is important the consultant is a good fit for you and your operation. You need to feel respected by the consultant and feel comfortable asking questions.

At the end of the day, you are ultimately responsible to implement what is included in your safety plan so make sure you understand the scope of the work and feel confident that the consultant will work with you to ensure the plan suits your individual operation.

Tip 1: Scope of Work

Understand the scope of work you would like the consultant to perform.  What work do you want the consultant to do specifically?  What are the timelines for completing the work?

Tip 2: Getting to Know Your Farm

Is the consultant willing to come to your farm and learn your operations to build a farm safety plan specifically for your organization?  Be weary of the consultant who says they can build your program from their office and without doing an interview!

Tip 3: Contract for Service

Ensure the consultant drafts a contract in writing to include the work you would like completed, how long it will take the consultant to complete the work, and the cost outline for the work.

Tip 4: Who is doing the Work?

Before you sign the contract, find out who is actually going to do the work?  Is the person you are meeting with going to perform the work or another worker at the company?  What are the credentials of the person who is going to do the work?  Do they have experience?  How much experience?  Will the work be supervised?

Tip 5: Consultant Training

What is the training background of the person who is going to do the work?

  • Are they a Canadian Registered Safety Professional (CRSP)? This is a highly recognized safety designation in Canada which requires the professional to uphold a high level of education and training to include standardized testing.
  • Are they a Certified Health and Safety Consultant (CHSC)? This designation through the Canadian Society of Safety Engineering recognizes the holder has special training in law, ethics, consulting skills., risk communication, and OHS management and performance.
  • Do they have knowledge and understanding of the agriculture industry?
Tip 6: The End Game

Find out what the end of the project or contract looks like.  The work should be completed in a way that it can be handed over to the farmer so the farmer can then continue on independently, if they so choose to do so.

Tip 7: References

Can the consultant provide work references?  Do they have experience in Agriculture? A general health and safety professional may be appropriate if they can access resources in a specialized field.  Call all of the references given to look for quality of work, reliability of the consultant and if the reference would use the consultant again.

Tip 8: Insurance

Ask the consultant if they have errors and omissions professional liability insurance.  If they do not have insurance, you may want to consider another consultant.

Tip 9: Knowledge of Industry & Legislation

Ask the consultant how they keep up on the industry best practices and legislative requirements.  This can be done through on-going training, conferences, reading industry papers or journals, OHS and associated websites, and attending other safety events.

Tip 10: Project Review

Ask the consultant if they are willing to review the safety plan with you once it is complete or if they are going to just drop it off.  An experienced reputable consultant will review the safety plan with you and train you on the various templates within the program.

Tip 11: Additional Support

Will the safety consultant be available to answer additional questions after the safety plan has been delivered and you have been trained on it?  Is there a fee for the service over and above the cost of the safety plan?

Tip 12: Documentation

Will the safety consultant provide a USB copy or a downloadable copy of the program in an editable format so you can make changes to the program upon delivery or in the future?  Is there an additional cost to provide this?