AppCon, a register tracking the health and safety systems of contractors involved in the Christchurch rebuild, is gaining a strong following.

AppCon is a register of contractors who have undertaken a pre-qualification process looking specifically at health and safety systems to enable principals, project management offices (PMOs) and head contractors to select an appropriate contractor for the work.

It is an innovation of the Canterbury Rebuild Safety Forum, which was set up after September 2010 to try and ensure the continuing safety of all involved in the rebuild process. It comprises the five main construction contractors - CERA; SCIRT; ACC; and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

AppCon gives contractors an independent rating with respect to different health and safety issues according to a traffic light system:

  • Green light – the contractor has quality health and safety systems.
  • Orange light – the contractor's health and safety systems need some work.
  • Red light – health and safety systems are not in place.

The AppCon register is a useful tool in establishing the suitability of a contractor for accreditation. MBIE supports the initiative and many other PMOs have committed to using the register as part of their contractor accreditation process. The initial success of AppCon has led PMOs to make it compulsory for Christchurch contractors to enter the register.

Further, AppCon have launched a secondary tier in the register, allowing contractors to monitor the performance of their own subcontractors. This will assist contractors in selecting the right sub-contractors for the job.

From an industry perspective, the usefulness of AppCon to the industry is that contractors have to provide actual evidence of health and safety procedures rather than simply "ticking the box." AppCon has worked well as a pre-qualification tool and it is capable of being used to assess the ongoing health and safety performance and transparency of contractors. It looks likely that it will be rolled out nationally by some major construction firms.

We recommend that Principals and PMOs should have a policy which sets out how the register is to be used internally. For example, only engaging contractors which have achieved green lights for all aspects of their health and safety systems. Or if a contractor who has an orange light is approved for work, then additional monitoring steps are to be taken.

Further steps beyond the AppCon register will still be required by Principals and PMOs to determine whether a contractor has the relevant experience, expertise and technical capabilities to undertake the work.

Provided that it is used in conjunction with robust internal processes to meet the requirements set out above, AppCon will be an increasingly useful tool for Principals and PMOs.

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