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A study by Cranfield University has highlighted five health and safety issues faced by companies that outsource.

Dr. Colin Pilbeam, reader in safety leadership at Cranfield University, has said that more needs to be done in outsourcing relationships to manage safety in the following areas:

1. Using contractors based outside of the UK whose local health and safety regulations could fall below British standards.

2. Outsourcing to companies who do not strictly report safety-related incidents and near misses.

3. Board level tensions that adversely affect local relationships.

4. Hard negotiations that reduce payments to contractors, which affect safety resources and performance.

5. Poor safety at the start of a new contract can be alleviated by transferring workers from an old contractor to the new one, but this limits safety improvements by the new contractor.

Many companies have strict safety practices to minimise risks. There are procedures for PPE (personal protective equipment), operating machinery, working at heights and entering hazardous areas. A reputable company will provide health and safety training. The Cranfield University research discovered that the safety standards a company applies to workers it employs directly do not always extend to outsourced companies and their staff.

Dr. Pilbeam says:

“More needs to be done to understand how safety can be managed in outsourced relationships between organizations.”

Mary Ogungbeje, research manager at IOSH, which funded the Cranfield research, warns:

"History has shown us that health and safety disasters happen when contractor arrangements are not managed properly.”

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