Most organisations of whatever size will use contractors at some time. There is a range of possible scenarios to consider: from staff who are engaged to work within the organisation for a temporary period, through to reliance on an outside organisation for a particular service on a long-term basis.

The services that may be provided by contractors can be quite diverse and can involve varying degrees of technological complexity, for example: refuelling; catering and other aircraft ground services; runway and taxiway construction and repair; aircraft maintenance and overhaul; crew training; and flight planning, flight despatch and flight following.

Whether using a large contractor or a small entrepreneur, the contracting authority (eg an airline, aerodrome operator or air navigation service provider) holds overall responsibility for managing the safety risks taken by the contractor. The contract needs to specify safety standards to be met. The contracting authority then has the responsibility for ensuring that the contractor complies with the safety standards prescribed in the contract.

Your SMS must ensure that the level of safety of your organisation is not eroded by the inputs and supplies provided by contractors. In particular, you should assess where your organisation interacts with a contractor so that internal and external procedures can be co-ordinated. For example, the procedures for maintenance handover, and the reporting of faults and errors should be compatible.

The following are some of the questions that will need to be considered -

  • Are contractors required to submit risk assessments and details of associated risk controls, where relevant, prior to starting work?
  • Do you have effective arrangements for maintaining an up-to-date record of all contractors working in your area of responsibility?
  • Is there a competent contact nominated for all contractors?

ASSI acknowledges the assistance of Health and Safety Technology and Management Ltd towards developing methods for SMS monitoring and evaluation.

Contractor working at airport with tools and equipment in a white van