Case studies

Case study

Improving our contractor prequalification process

In July 2019, our New Zealand Division demonstrated its commitment to improving health and safety processes – both within Downer and across the construction industry – by completing a two-year Enforceable Undertaking.

An Enforceable Undertaking (EU) is a voluntary agreement between WorkSafe and a duty holder following a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and is generally completed as an alternative to prosecution.

In 2016, a subcontractor working for Downer lost his eye while using an angle grinder. Downer has subsequently focused on applying lessons learned from the incident, and on improving health and safety by investing back into the industry and the wider community.

This included establishing scholarships for tertiary study in workplace health and safety, paying reparation to the victim, presenting findings on alternative cutting methods to the industry and making a donation to charity.

Another key focus area was to improve our health and safety governance framework. We revised and further developed our contractor prequalification process to manage risk exposure and ensure integrated systems were in place to manage subcontractors across the business.

By ensuring a clear process for prequalification, registration and management of subcontractors, operational leaders are able to make better decisions when engaging subcontractors, ensuring they are suitable for the varied tasks undertaken by Downer.

The system also provides a platform to measure performance consistently and ensures better support mechanisms for our subcontractors. The process involved the review of four Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems and 13,000 pieces of data. A subcontractor management portal was established to provide a single source of the truth for our New Zealand Division, with subcontractors defined by categories governed by:

  • The risk profile of the work being undertaken
  • The financial value of the subcontracted works
  • Each company’s health and safety documentation, work practice compliance and its ability to work supervised or unsupervised.

The New Zealand team has also shared their learnings from this process with the rest of the company to promote consistency in our approach to subcontractor management across the Group.