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By Jared Kangisser, CEO of KBC Health & Safety

The high-risk mining sector is, for obvious reasons, heavily regulated regarding health and safety. The sector has complex processes and ensuring everyone has the core skills and competencies necessary to perform their tasks safely is key. Mines must take responsibility for anyone on their site, even if they are contracted from an outsourced provider, which makes the Onboarding process extremely important. The challenge is that most mines are under-resourced to support the volume of contractors on site as well as their own employee Onboarding, which can lead to bottlenecking and delays. Outsourcing this Onboarding process not only ensures greater efficiency, which can save millions of Rands a year, it also ensures better safety standards, which can in turn save not only money, but more critically, also lives.

The challenge with Onboarding

Onboarding refers to the steps and processes necessary to ensure that individuals are deemed compliant to work on site, in line with all relevant regulations, mining standards, health and safety regulations, among others. Importantly, it also needs to ensure that individuals accessing the site are aligned to the value system of the mining house, and that they buy into the ethos and the safety principles to ensure that they work in the safest manner possible.

While this process is extremely important, it is also often crippled by inefficiencies because of capacity constraints and disarrangement between intercompany departments. There are simply not enough resources internally to cope with the volumes of contractors and internal staff, so the focus is typically aimed toward direct employees first. This can lead to disparity and misalignment of the safety principles and values among contractors. It also causes massive delays in Onboarding, which can have significant cost implications, aside from any safety concerns.

The cost of inefficiency

The Onboarding process is part of the costing of contractors, and mines are charged from the outset of the Onboarding process. The longer this process takes, the more money it costs mines when they are not realising the value of the contractors, because they are not actually working yet.

As a hypothetical example, if it is estimated that it will take twenty working days to bring fifty contractors on site, at a cost of R1 000 per contractor per day for induction and Onboarding, then the budgeted cost for Onboarding will be R1 million. However, delays in this process have become the rule, rather than the exception.

After the kick-off meeting is held, contractors must undergo a criminal screening, and this can take several days to book, vet, and finalise. In some instances, when following a sequential path, the results need to be obtained before the contractors can move on to the medical screening, which also needs to be booked, attended, and further time spent waiting for those results to arrive. The possible ‘Temporary Unfit’ status creates further delays as a repeat medical examination is required. On completion of this, induction is held, but if classrooms and/or facilitators are not available, then more delays occur.

In this example, assume that instead of taking twenty days, Onboarding has now taken forty days, costing R2 million, which is double the anticipated amount. When this is multiplied out by thousands of contractors per year, the direct cost implications are extreme.

The right outsourced partner is key

Inefficiency, capacity constraints and a lack of integrated Onboarding processes all play a role in contributing to huge overheads as well as disjointed safety practices. The purpose of Onboarding is to get people on site as quickly and safely as possible and outsourcing this function, specifically for supporting contractors, can be hugely beneficial.

Outsourcing contractor Onboarding to a reputable and experienced provider can help to improve the experience and alignment, reduce the direct cost implications, and positively impact many indirect costs, including production and overall efficiency. The right outsourcing partner will work with the organisation as well as existing departments to ensure that processes are integrated, correct practices are followed, and all relevant health and safety practices are followed and instilled.

Working together, the organisation can be assured that the streamlined Onboarding process will align to its value system, safety principles, standard operating procedures and so on, and training can be run with highly skilled facilitators to further streamline the process. A coordinated effort is often far more effective than a pure outsourced model and ensures a cohesive approach for both contractors and internal employees which positively impacts safety practices.

Streamlined processes, reduced costs, better health, and safety

The reality is that it is impossible for mines to maintain the internal resources necessary to meet the volume demand of contractors on site. The impact of the massive delays this causes is extreme even when only easily quantifiable direct costs are involved. When factoring in the indirect cost of inefficient processes and lack of integrated, cohesive safety standards, the implications are massive.

Outsourcing contractor Onboarding streamlines processes, removes bottlenecks and is a cost-effective solution that adds immense value in terms of improving safety, and in freeing up massive amounts of money that can be put to far better use in social development initiatives.

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