Guidelines for managing contractors and visitors.
Yes – under the provisions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic).
Employers are required under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic) to provide and maintain, as far as practicable, a working environment that is safe and without risks to health for all employees.
Pursuant to section 21(3), an independent contractor and the contractor’s employees may be considered to be employees in the same way as teachers or other staff. The duty of the principal to such a contractor is the same as to actual employees in relation to matters over which the principal has control. This duty of care cannot be removed through agreement.
There is a duty to take care in employing independent contractors to ensure that they are competent and are able to control their own systems of work.
There is also a duty to retain a general supervisory power over any work, and a duty to define the contractor’s respective areas of responsibility, particularly where there is more than one contractor involved, and where such interrelationships may give rise to risks.
School councils/boards need to examine carefully the contractual relationships that are entered into, and ensure that the activities undertaken do not put staff, students or the contractors at risk.
Schools need to develop protocols to deal with issues to be addressed when arranging for a contractor to perform work in the school. Further information is available in the ‘Contractor and Visitor Controls’ (PDF).
Appropriate documentation should be produced by the school that acknowledges that the contractor:
- has been provided with the school’s safety requirements
- has identified for the school the safety requirements that govern their activities
- will observe both of these requirements.
This documentation should be signed by the contractor and filed by the school for its own protection.
You may be in breach of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic). Penalties could be applied.