• Simon Lawrence
    Final post in my 10 Safety Myths series: What is the true value of "Pre-Qual"? In the context of legal duties, my opinion is we may be assigning it an undeserved status. The temptation is to hide behind it, when what we should be doing is far more active management of this brand of "worker".

    Does the Forum share my belief that we are being naive in hiding behind this thin paper wall? My article lists the myriad other legal duties we have under the Act. Active management duties. Are many PCBUs at risk of being caught out badly, or is it all hunky-dory out there?
  • Peter Bateman
    The topic of H&S pre-qualification came up a while back on the Forum and generated quite a bit of heat! Here is the earlier thread.
  • Simon Lawrence
    That's why I saved it till last...
  • Steve H
    The temptation is to hide behind it, when what we should be doing is far more active management of this brand of "worker".Simon Lawrence

    Having seen some of the larger Civil Engineering companies "out source" this aspect of their operations to third party pre qual operations, who then make a buck out of charging both the principals involved, and subbies,with nothing changing except more cost and time spent shuffling existing paperwork such as Insurance Certs for the poor subbies, who have most likely had their payment terms pushed out to 60 or 90 days, and can't afford to list with every random pre qual agency- bah humbug
  • Don Ramsay
    Pre quals are only to the benefit to the provider as they are making money from us the suppliers when we provide the information, and charging the customer to use the information. My understanding of pre quals when they first kicked off was that they were to streamline the passage of information and make the process easier, but I have found that this is not the case. I now need to do 8 differing prequals based on who our customer uses... and now I understand that there is another in the wings CHANZ
  • craig christie
    We use prequalification simply as one of a whole range of tools. The prequal is not site specific but does give us some degree of confidence that we are awarding work to subcontractors that can evidence relevant systems for managing their own risks.
  • Rob McAulay
    Great read, thank you Simon.
    I have a similar opinion to Craig in relation to using pre-qual, if a contractor provides a copy, great but they still need to provide evidence to Us (Organisation) of how they intend to do the job and how they are minimizing the risks to others in our workplace. I feel that all the pre-qual provides us is confirmation that when the contractor was assessed their ducks were lined up, but that doesn't mean they are still lined up 6, 12, 18 months later, the ducks move. it can be useful but I do not see it as a prerequisite.
    I believe for most organisations Contractors are the most awkward risk to manage.
  • Jan Hall
    "When the contractor was assessed their ducks were lined up". Nope All it shows is that they had a good system of documents. Since neither Prequal nor Sitewise gets off their rear ends and actually goes out to where it matters: on SITE! - good documents is ALL it shows. Unlike accounting, where faulty documentation means something significant, inadequate h&s documentation means very little. Apart from TAs, Training and Competency, and pre-start toolbox talks the rest is not indicative of anything but an ability to create endless mostly useless documents and ALL OF IT can be created, managed, successfully uploaded for high prequalification success by someone sitting in an office with a keyboard. (Working for an organisation who doesn't understand 'lean and keen' and is HAPPY to employ more admin. staff.)

    For example: "Sub contractor pre-selection documents"? Oh please! Unless there some huge bureaucratic ineffective communicating, overspending monolith that HAS to send documents across an office rather than speak, this is how it usually goes and it's perfectly effective with good, knowledgeable personnel:
    QS to Site Manager: "what was the scaffolder like?" Site Manager: "Yeah, good bloke. Worth getting again."
  • Mike Massaar
    While you need to have a system to measure the competence etc.of your contractors, I don't think these large formal and expensive prequalification systems have saved anybody's lives.
  • Steve H
    Since neither Prequal nor Sitewise gets off their rear ends and actually goes out to where it matters: on SITE! - good documents is ALL it showsJan Hall

    Be nice if there were only two Jan a couple of years ago it seemed like every second emailwas an invitation to register with our preferred "prequal company" at varying degrees of cost, one of our big clients decided that they were going with a US based one, $2,300 for me to register our business with them, plus the time taken to jump through their hoops, I just said "no thanks", it meant kissing goodbye to $35K worth of work PA. In the end, a lot of their subbies revolted and gave them the advice that involves sex and travel, and they backed down and went with SiteWise. Much more cost effective, but you are totally right, no boots on the ground to confirm that practice matches documentation.

    While you need to have a system to measure the competence etc.of your contractors, I don't think these large formal and expensive prequalification systems have saved anybody's lives.Mike Massaar

    It's more a butt covering exercise from my observation, than anything to do with life saving
  • Jon Harper-Slade
    Might have missed the bus here, but in case it's still useful:

    H&S PQ is a good example of 'demonstrated safety work' (Rae & Provan, 2019).

    It's the very first (and least important) stage in a Supplier Selection Process. It really only can assure the buyer of services that the suppliers who are able to tender for work have an appropriate H&S management programme (suitable and sufficient for the type of business they are).

    Research shows that work-related accident and fatal accident rates can be significantly reduced by implementing a suitable OHSMS (Yoon et al. 2013).

    A written and comprehensive H&S management programme is effective in helping reduce H&S risk for construction businesses (Hallowell and Gambatese 2009)

    Investment in a suitable H&S management programme is shown to be a good investment (Bayram, Ünğan, and Ardıç 2017)

    The attention created by the adoption of a management programme opens possibilities for giving priority to key OHS issues in the business (Uhrenholdt Madsen et al. 2020)

    Using system levers to require businesses to have a structured and proportional H&S management programme tends to have positive safety benefits (Frick and Kempa 2011)(Frick 2011)

    The problem is that pre-qualification processes are overcooked, overcomplicated, expensive, confusing, and bureaucratic.

    Prequalification is the 'ticket to the dance' - 'getting a date' is a different conversation and where the energy and effort should be.

    Tōtika has been developed to de-clutter H&S Pre-qualification in NZ and move the conversation forward.


    Frick, Kaj. 2011. “Worker Influence on Voluntary OHS Management Systems – A Review of Its Ends and Means.” Safety Science 49(7):974–87.

    Frick, Kaj, and Viktor Kempa. 2011. Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems: When Are They Good for Your Health? Brussels: ETUI.

    Hallowell, Matthew R., and John A. Gambatese. 2009. “Construction Safety Risk Mitigation.” Journal of Construction Engineering and Management 135(12):1316–23.

    Rae, A., & Provan, D. (2019). Safety work versus the safety of work. Safety Science, 111, 119–127. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssci.2018.07.001

    Uhrenholdt Madsen, Christian, Marie Louise Kirkegaard, Johnny Dyreborg, and Peter Hasle. 2020. “Making Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems ‘Work’: A Realist Review of the OHSAS 18001 Standard.” Safety Science 129:104843.

    Yoon, Seok J., Hsing K. Lin, Gang Chen, Shinjea Yi, Jeawook Choi, and Zhenhua Rui. 2013. “Effect of Occupational Health and Safety Management System on Work-Related Accident Rate and Differences of Occupational Health and Safety Management System Awareness between Managers in South Korea’s Construction Industry.” Safety and Health at Work 4(4):201–9.
  • Tony Walton
    I acknowledge the academic theories used here to justify Tōtika and other Prequal schemes, but when it comes down to practicability I think Simon has summed it up nicely. One could provide a set of no more than 12 contractor due diligence questions for businesses engaging contractors that would achieve the same outcome at no charge. The PCBU simply has a duty of due diligence in selecting a competent contractor and applying the 3 C's on the job based on who is in the best position to manage which risks. Just putting it out there for comment????
  • MattD2
    The PCBU simply has a duty of due diligence in selecting a competent contractor and applying the 3 C's on the job based on who is in the best position to manage which risks.Tony Walton
    And somebody saw the opportunity in the market to "take care of that" for PCBUs (for a small fee of course) - then more and more companies jumped on the pre-qualification bandwagon... which lead to the creation of Tōtika to solve the issue of "contractors requiring to retain multiple pre-qualification certificates".
    While this is a solution to the identified problem, I do wonder, like you , if looking at this wider as a "how can we do tenderer selection better in NZ?"
    And to be honest a "Yelp, but for contractors" could probably be more beneficial to NZ... although that would be ripe for abuse if it was just an open feedback format!
  • Steve H
    Fortunately for me, the "joys" of prequal systems are becoming a distant memory, who has signed up for Tōtika ? Is it living up to the promise of de-cluttering H&S Pre-qualification in NZ?

    From my experience, I agree with Simon's take.
  • Stuart Oakey
    In other organisations I've worked, in NZ & overseas, the Contractor H&S Assessment was a procurement function and carried out as part of the contractor engagement internal process. Once the contract was in place the H&S performance was handed over to the contract manager. As H&S team we assisted with the performance audit & report. We didn't use Pre-Qual providers.
  • Denise
    S Signed up for Totika but unfortunately Kainga Ora don't currently recognise it so another prequal was required to be added to the ever growing and getting more expensive list. Well done for getting off this treadmill.
  • Steve H
    Quite apart from the cost, the time taken to answer much the same questions and send off copies of documentation, insurance certificates wound me up. How did you find the process and cost for Tōtika Denise?
  • Denise
    Really good Steve. No issues with Totika but unfortunately not widely recognised yet by Clients or potential Clients.
  • Jon Harper-Slade
    Hi Tony, Great comments.

    To clarify the references I provided don't actually justify pre-qualification, they provide evidence that OH&S management systems do provide benefits to safety. Pre-qualification can be a way to gain assurance organisations have OH&S management systems, but there are likely better ways to do that.

    The papers referenced are not models or theories (except 1). They are peer reviewed scientific papers that provide evidence for the principle being discussed. I would be delighted to send you copies of the any of the papers referenced if you would like to read them. I would recommend in particular Rae et al. (2019) as it offers a model that supports the perspective you have raised.

    On your proposal:
    If 12 questions are provided to suppliers, who decides what the 12 questions are?
    Who pays to assess the answers to those questions?
    How would they be assessed?
  • Jon Harper-Slade
    Totally with you Matt.

    The reality is that system change is difficult to achieve and must be incremental to allow everyone to move at a pace they are comfortable.

    We all know the current situation is poor, there are lots of people with ideas about what could be done instead, but none able to articulate how the change can be practically achieved.

    Tōtika is there to provide an opportunity for the system to incrementally shift to something better (once we know what that is); the reality is, we can't wave a magic wand and move to utopia - noone would like that even if we knew what utopia is.

    Science has been telling us that TRIFR's are statistically not significant and not a measure of safety, but a poor measure of productivity for more than 20 years. Most seem to be still doing that too.
  • Jon Harper-Slade
    They are working on it; most recent information is early in the new year :-)
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