Greater safety and savings

Greater safety and savings

Jared Kangisser, CEO of onboarding solutions provider KBC Health and Safety, explains how the mining industry can gain great savings and improve safety standards by outsourcing its onboarding processes.

The high-risk mining sector is, for obvious reasons, heavily regulated when it comes to health and safety. Accustomed to complex processes, this industry has to ensure that everyone involved in working on site possesses the core skills and competencies to perform their tasks safely. On top of this, mines must take responsibility for anyone on their site, even if individuals are contracted from an outsourced provider. This makes the onboarding process extremely important.

The challenge is that most mines are under-resourced to support the volume of contractors on site as well as their own employee onboarding, which can lead to bottlenecking and delays. Outsourcing this onboarding process not only ensures greater efficiency, which can save millions of rands a year, but more critically ensures better safety standards which can save lives.

The challenge with onboarding

Onboarding refers to the steps and processes necessary to ensure individuals are deemed compliant to work on site, in line with all relevant regulations, mining standards, and health and safety regulations. Importantly, onboarding must also ensure individuals accessing the site are aligned with the mining house’s value system and buy into the ethos and safety principles, so that they work in the safest possible manner.

While this process is extremely important, it is also often crippled by inefficiencies because of capacity constraints and a lack of coordination between inter-company departments. There are simply not enough internal resources to cope with the volume of staff and contractors, so the focus is typically aimed primarily toward direct employees. This can lead to disparity and a misalignment of safety principles and values among contractors. It also causes massive delays in onboarding, which – aside from any safety concerns – can have significant cost implications.

The cost of inefficiency

The onboarding process is part of the cost of contractors, and mines are charged from the outset of the process. The longer onboarding takes, the more money contractors will cost a mine, but because they are not actually working yet, the mine will not benefit from those contractors’ true value.

As a hypothetical example, if it takes 20 working days to bring 50 contractors on site, at a cost of R1 000 per contractor per day for induction and onboarding, the budgeted cost for onboarding will be R1 million. However, delays in this process have become the rule, rather than the exception.

After the kick-off meeting is held, contractors must undergo a criminal screening, which can take several days to book, vet, and finalise. In some instances, when following a sequential path, the results need to be obtained before the contractors can move on to the medical screening, which uses up further time with booking, attendance, and waiting for results to arrive. A potential “temporary unfit” status can create further delays, as a repeat medical examination is required. On completion of this, induction is held, but if classrooms and/or facilitators are not available, more delays will occur.

In this example, if we assume that onboarding has taken 40 days instead of 20, the anticipated costs will obviously double to R2 million. Though this may seem like an extreme example, if we multiply the costs of delays by each of the thousands of contractors onboarded per year, the direct cost implications are huge.

Finding the right outsourced partner is key

Inefficiency, capacity constraints, and a lack of integrated onboarding processes all play a role in contributing to huge overheads as well as disjointed safety practices. The purpose of onboarding is to get people on site as quickly and safely as possible; outsourcing this function – specifically for supporting contractors – can be hugely beneficial.

Outsourcing contractor onboarding to a reputable and experienced provider can help to improve the experience and alignment, reduce the direct cost implications, and positively impact many indirect costs, including production and overall efficiency. The right outsourcing partner will work with the organisation as well as existing departments to ensure that processes are integrated, correct practices are followed, and all relevant health and safety practices are instilled and maintained.

Working together, the organisation can be assured that the streamlined onboarding process will align with its value system, safety principles, and standard operating procedure. Training can also be run with highly skilled facilitators to further streamline the process. A coordinated effort is often far more effective than a pure outsourced model, ensuring a cohesive approach that positively impacts safety practices for both contractors and internal employees.

Streamlined processes, reduced costs, better health and safety 

The reality is that mines can’t maintain the internal resources necessary to meet the volume demand of contractors on site. The impact of the consequent long delays is massive even when only easily quantifiable, direct costs are considered. When factoring in the indirect cost of inefficient processes and the lack of integrated, cohesive safety standards, the implications are extreme.

Outsourcing contractor onboarding streamlines processes, removes bottlenecks, and is a cost-effective solution that adds immense value in terms of improving safety and freeing up huge amounts of money, which can be put to far better use, for example in social development initiatives.

Published by

SHEQ Management

SHEQ MANAGEMENT is the definitive source for reliable, accurate and pertinent information to guarantee environmental health and safety in the workplace.
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