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Contractor Management

Monday 11, Feb 2019

ATM’s compliance expert Terry Muir examines the important considerations Superintendents and Turf Managers need to be aware of when they engage contractors at their facility and the EHS responsibilities of the respective parties. 


Working with contractors presents unique environmental, health and safety (EHS) challenges. Every superintendent or turf manager engaging contractors has EHS responsibilities for both the contractor and anyone else that could be affected by the contractor’s activities. 

Remember, your contractors may be at particular risk if, for example, they are strangers to your workplace and unfamiliar with your EHS policies and procedures, site hazards and risks. If something happens, you could be liable unless you have implemented a programme of contractor management. 

It’s not all one-way traffic though and contractors have their own legal EHS responsibilities too. In this article we aim to help superintendents ensure that everyone understands the shared role required to be played in ensuring health and safety and environment protection when engaging contractors.  

Duty of care

Most superintendents and turf managers will engage an independent contractor at some point, but many are oblivious to the duties they owe these contractors and the duty the contractor owes them. It does not matter how the person comes to work at your golf club or turf facility, if they are contractors, subcontractors or self-employed people, including the people who work for them, they all come under your responsibility. It is therefore imperative that your contractors are effectively engaged and then managed. 

In all jurisdictions, workplace safety legislation states independent contractors engaged to undertake work for your business are considered to be workers of your business. This means that you have a primary duty of care to any contractor you engage and to any workers they may have working for them.

You must ensure their health and safety, so far as is reasonably practicable, and you must also ensure their activities do not breach workplace safety and environmental legislation.

Where there are multiple parties working on your site, the role of each party needs to be determined from the beginning. If this is overlooked and an incident occurs, the regulators will examine who the duty holders are under the legislation, what that duty was and what steps were taken or not taken to prevent the incident. The result – lost time, lost resources and stress as everyone involved starts playing the blame game.

Another common mistake many businesses make is engaging a contractor and then leaving them to their own devices. This effectively delegates all safety responsibility to the contractor.

This is now an offence.

Businesses that operate under the harmonised model work health and safety legislation (WHS Act) are now specifically prohibited from transferring all safety responsibilities.


Most Sportsturf Managers will engage an independent contractor at some point, but many are oblivious to the duties they owe these contractors and the duty the contractor owes them

The legislation renders any such attempt as void. No matter how cleverly worded a contract may be, any clause within a contract that attempts the following will be deemed void and therefore unenforceable;

  • Exclude, limit or modify the operation of the WHS Act;
  • Exclude, limit or modify any duty owed under the WHS Ac; or
  • Transfer to another person/entity any work health and safety duty owed under the WHS Act,


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