Best Practice

LOCATION: Marine & ship to shore ARTICLE YEAR 2016
ACTIVITY: Contractor Safety management COMPANY: Tarmac Ltd
Working safely in partnership with contractors


Tarmac Marine Ltd wanted to improve contractor engagement following the integration of wharves and ships into a new business. Statistics on contractor incidents and injuries identified variances in the safety processes and standards being employed. It also confirmed a variation between small, medium and large contractors approach to safety and health.

Following consultation with key stakeholders, it was agreed that new contractor forums and knowledge sharing exercises within the supply chain would be employed. External contractors would be more proactively engaged with both before and during the planning process. The objectives were to raise awareness and working standards and, most importantly, reduce incidents.

The forums allow contractors of all sizes to meet with various levels of Tarmac Marine employees, to help develop and drive improvements through their own businesses.

One of the most hazardous activities for TM is when a ship is taken in for major maintenance in a dry dock. Over a 100 contractors may be working on board, often involved in complex tasks with multiple contractors on several decks at the same time.

Prior to the partnership approach, incidents had been a regular occurrence. In part, this was caused by contractor competence and the contractors trying to comply with different standards (TM’s, the ship yard’s and their own employer’s). To resolve this issue a ‘Bridging’ process has been developed to act as a conduit between the different sets of standards and to achieve a common safety goal – Zero Harm.

The process includes a pre contract engagement, an interactive “learning” style induction, the bridging document itself, security protocols, ship access control, competence review and a post project review process, to enable the ‘Bridging’ process to evolve.


  • A shared mindset that all accidents are preventable and unsafe activity must stop
  • All work activity is risk assessed to identify and control risks
  • All persons are suitably trained and competent for their task
  • Recognition that no task is so important that it cannot be done safely
  • Contractors whose first language is not English have an English speaking supervisor
  • Bridging document
    • All working practices are closely aligned to achieve best working practices
    • Responsibilities of key personnel and contacts are clearly identified
    • A single, quick point of reference with regards to safety, health and environment
    • Emergency procedures clearly set out including vessel evacuation
    • Key safety information shared at daily safety meetings
    • Common policies on processes such as permit to work and machinery isolation
    • Tool box talks help supervisors and managers understand and implement policies
  • Access Control
    • All visitors must complete induction before accessing site
    • T-card and hard hat sticker controls site access
    • Each individual carries their personal and task specific data
  • Smaller contractors acquire the safety knowledge available to larger contractors
  • Facilitates standardised approach to tasks
  • System has been welcomed by contractors
  • Regularly employed contactors attend 6 monthly safety days
  • All stakeholders have signed a Safety Charter working towards Zero Harm
  • Outputs being shared within the industry
  • Significant improvements in safety performance 
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