Contractors vying for council work must pass 'safety gate'
BUSINESSES will need to make it through a "safety gate" to gain a Gladstone Regional Council contract from now on as part of a new procurement policy.
In a bid to tighten up its safety compliance after it failed its own safety audit last year, the council has adopted a new policy to make their expectations for contractors and subcontractors clear.
The policy prompted a more than 45-minute discussion at this week's council meeting, with some debating how the increased safety requirements would impact contractors who have worked for the council for "decades".
Chief executive Roslyn Baker said the council failed its internal safety audit last year due to contractor management.
The new policy means businesses will need to pass the council's safety requirement, or gate, before being considered for a tender.
Previously safety was considered as a weighting, with price and task performance.
But councillors Kahn Goodluck and Peter Masters worried the new safety requirements would block Gladstone businesses from gaining council tenders.
They also raised concerns about adopting a new policy without discussing it with contractors first.
- Businesses must pass the council's safety requirements before being considered for a tender.
- Decisions for tenders of up to $500,000 will be made by chief executive Roslyn Baker.
- The local preference policy will now feature a 5 per cent weighing based on where a business's head office is and a 5 per cent weighing based on where their subcontractors and workers are from.
"No one is disagreeing with you that we need to lift the safety standard, but the way in which we've gone about that is not, as you said, as consultative as it should be," Cr Goodluck said.
Ms Baker said during the meeting the policy was not intended to block any businesses.
"As we speak we have plans to sit down with our local suppliers to discuss the many issues," she said.
"Unfortunately we have a situation where our safety performance needs to improve and we're working hard to do that .... we've seen some big improvements in the past six months."
While it took three motions to make the decision, the councillors also decided that tenders worth up to $500,000 would be handled by Ms Baker.
Gladstone Region Mayor Matt Burnett told The Observer he did not expect the new policy to be an issue .
"We will help those businesses who have worked with us every way possible to get them up to the safety standard that's required," he said.
"I'm not concerned, and if there's businesses who don't want to bring themselves up to these standards then so be it."
Cr Burnett said the council would work with businesses to help them meet the safety requirements before they applied for the work. He said the requirements to allow the council to pass its own audit included wearing hard hats, long sleeves and hi-vis.
Ms Baker said she planned to sit down with contractors and sub contractors to discuss the new policy.
Clearing up what is considered 'local'
WHAT is considered a "local" business has been clarified by the Gladstone Regional Council, as it changes up its contractor policies.
The Local Preference Policy was introduced in 2016 to support businesses struggling in Gladstone's tough economic climate. But it has since caused debates for most tender decisions - including if a business has a head office in Brisbane and a branch in Gladstone.
Deputy mayor Chris Trevor said their decisions based on their original local-first policy had been inconsistent.
"The risk as a result of previous decisions was such that outside companies would have stopped tendering completely.
"We have a conflict each and every time we accept a tender whether it be local or non-local."
The new policy offers businesses a potential 10 per cent rating. Businesses can receive up to 5 per cent based on where their head office is and 5 per cent on where their sub contractors are from.