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Improving Contractor Safety Management

Posted by admin on May 23, 2019
   

It’s a challenging task for any EHS leader to keep track of temporary workers, contractors, and their roles within your company. This article will explore best practices for selecting and managing contractors with a mature safety and health program.

What is contractor safety management?

Contractor safety management is a system of processes that help ensure contracted services support your company’s EHS performance goals.

Contractor safety management programs protect the safety and health of your team, your contractors, their subcontractors, and your reputation.

Why is contractor safety important?

The construction industry has consistently faced shortages in skilled labor over the past several years. As host employers rely on contractors to fill positions, assessing contractor safety is of increasing importance to employers.

Contractors can face financial pressures and impending deadlines, which can lead to cutting corners or engaging in unsafe behaviors. In addition, contract workers may be undertrained and underqualified. A lack of communication and coordination means that they never acquire the needed skills or safety knowledge for the job. For example, 95% of contractors surveyed in the USCC/USG Commercial Construction Index for Q1 2019 expressed concerns over whether their employees had adequate skill levels.

Group of construction workers talking at a building site

Who is responsible for site safety?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)’s multi-employer citation policy means that both employers and their contractors are responsible for the safety of ALL workers throughout a jobsite.

According to the agency’s Safety and Health Regulations for Construction, “in no case shall the prime contractor be relieved of overall responsibility for compliance …”.  

In addition, OSHA also clearly indicates that subcontractors are also subject to safety and health regulations, stating that “With respect to subcontracted work, the prime contractor and any subcontractor or subcontractors shall be deemed to have joint responsibility.”

How do you implement a contractor safety program?

1. Set Contract Safety Specifications and Pre-job Qualifications

It’s important for the employer to establish safety rules and clearly communicate expectations by incorporating safety specifications into bid documents. Make sure roles and responsibilities are clearly defined between the employer and contractor. Don’t put anything into the contract terms that you wouldn’t actually be willing to enforce.

Once you’ve received bids, you’ll need to determine what criteria you should use to vet prospective contractors.

The best solution is to develop a standardized pre-job safety qualification process. You might choose to examine key performance indicators such as a contractor’s TRIR and DART rates over the past five years. These rates can be calculated for organizations of all sizes and industries, so they serve as helpful benchmarks. TCIR and DART rates can also be compared to those of other companies in a contractor’s applicable NAICS code, so you can see how they measure up to their competition.

You might also choose to review information such as a contractor’s previous worker compensation claims, injury logs, training records, equipment calibration records, and environmental reports.

While these metrics will provide you with a good start, they might be telling the whole story. You can visit OSHA’s website to check if a contractor has had any OSHA citations in the past.

safety workers at construction site with laptop

2. Provide consistent training to contractors

Before contractors begin work, employers should ensure that all workers receive consistent safety training. The National Safety Council (NSC)’s Campbell Institute recommends delivering standardized video-based training with competency-based quizzes.

Safety orientation meetings should also be held to introduce contractors to your safety goals and requirements. New hires should understand how they fit into your company, even if they’re only temporary workers. They should also be aware of what protective equipment they should use for their tasks and understand how to report hazards, incidents, and near misses.

Remember that you brought these contractors onsite because they have a good safety program. Getting their feedback can go a long way towards building a strong safety culture.

Inspections by contractor

3. Monitor Performance

Once work begins, employers should conduct periodic safety assessments during the contract term. This can be accomplished through routine inspections and walk-throughs of work sites. Employers can also implement behavior based safety (BBS) programs so that key team members can observe the safety behaviors of workers.

The data you collect should help you make strategic choices of what to continue, start, or stop in order to improve your contractor safety management program. 

incidents by contractor

How can safety management software help?

Implementing a safety management software can help companies of all sizes to ensure each party involved in a project is committed to safety.  Using a safety management software allows you to:

  • Manage all contractor data from a centralized location
  • Compare and benchmark the safety performance of contractors
  • Track, investigate, and receive notifications of any incidents involving contractors in real-time
  • Easily generate automated reports and safety metrics 
  • Gain visibility into all company sites, entities or departments exposed to greater contractor safety risk

To learn more about the benefits of contractor safety management software, contact IndustrySafe today.

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