Notching up the first 5000

23 Jul 2019

Nigel Palmer

SiteWise manager Nigel Palmer says a number of contractors have got work through doing well in their assessment. 


SiteWise has reached a major milestone with the 5000th contractor going through the prequalification system.

Manager Nigel Palmer says the popularity of the system is due to a couple of key factors.

“SiteWise helps contractors in a number of ways, but amongst other things it can help them get work, and speed up the engagement process.”

He says it is both relatively simple and transparent and makes it easy for contractors to demonstrate how they manage health and safety in their business.

A bonus, he says, is that if there is ever a serious accident, a firm with well documented health and safety processes is less likely to be prosecuted.

“You don’t often see companies being prosecuted who have good health and safety processes in place and have shown they manage their risk(s) effectively.”

SiteWise began life after the Christchurch earthquakes. It was originally  a system called AppCon that was developed due to the need for a system to speed up the tendering process, particularly around health and safety concerns.  

Construction safety organisation Site Safe bought AppCon from their joint venture partner, rebuilt the software and platform and launched SiteWise in March 2015.

SiteWise works by asking 12 basic health and safety related questions, with the answers needing to be backed up by evidence of implementation. Submissions are marked by assessors resulting in the company achieving a red, orange or green score. The marks are then displayed in the SiteWise database where principals and main contractors who use SiteWise can access this information and view the results and other information.

 “As the database grows it is becoming a very useful resource for main contractors to find contractors they may not have considered using before. This especially applies to the ones who have achieved an assessment level of 75 per cent or above which shows as a green light.

“We’re getting a lot more feedback from both level 3 contractors and main contractors noticing they have gained work as a result of doing well in SiteWise.

“That’s always been one of the added values that we hoped SiteWise would bring to our members, so it is really gratifying to see this becoming more of a reality over recent years,” Nigel says.

SiteWise isn’t the only prequal organisation in New Zealand, but Nigel says it is popular because it is simple to use and has a number of useful contractor management functions that help main contractors monitor the health and safety of contractors they engage.

“This includes things like the ability to monitor a contractor’s performance, their achievements and their progress via a dashboard. There are also other useful functions like being able to view insurance documents, create preferred contractor lists and search for contractors by region, work type and score.

 “The transparency of SiteWise allows level 1 companies to look at assessment reports which can be very useful, revealing strengths and weaknesses which helps them manage their contractors better.”

Nigel says statistics have shown contractors assessed on SiteWise are getting better at managing their administration and understanding of health and safety issues which is backed up by positive data that's building up.

 “The average score at SiteWise has increased from an average of approximately 60 per cent 4 years ago to 73 per cent in 2019, and this continues to improve.

“When we launched SiteWise in 2015, about 35 per cent of companies were being assessed at less than 50 per cent. That figure’s now less than 16 per cent and 56 per cent of assessments achieving a green result.

“I think more than anything prequalification has helped a lot of contractors improve their awareness to their obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act. But everything we do with our clients steers them towards a better understanding of what they’re doing and why it’s a good idea to do it.”

Nigel says prequal is just a small part of the health and safety picture as it’s largely a desktop exercise but with so many contractors going through the process each year it has significant benefits.

“It’s a bit like getting a warrant for your car. You know it’s coming, you know that you can rely on it to pick up things that might need fixing, and because of the annual assessment requirement with SiteWise, safety becomes part and parcel of what you monitor.”

He says something he’s seen develop is a keener focus on the monitoring of the health of workers and a much better recording of accidents, incidents and near-misses.

The other fulltime member of the SiteWise team is Sarah Woods who has been the coordinator there for nearly four years.

As the “everything person” she answers a lot of IT questions about using the system, helping with assessments and getting main contractors onboard when they sign up.

“We put up some SiteWise tutorial videos on the website this year and they’ve helped in answering a lot of questions that people have.”

Sarah says she and Nigel have noticed that the system seems to be working a lot smoother these days which may be linked to industries becoming more accustomed to going through prequalification and the positive impact it has had on health and safety within their business.

That doesn’t mean they don’t get the occasional grumpy client they have to deal with. Sometimes contractors don’t see the point of prequal, or don’t like the process. But Nigel and Sarah talk the issues through, and people tend to come around to seeing the need for it.

“Ï joke with Nigel that we play good-cop and bad cop,” Sarah says.

 “Some days I play bad cop. But not very often!”

For more information go to SiteWise here

 Sarah Woods

Sarah Woods, SiteWise Co-ordinator