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When you think of workplace safety, you should realize that a safety culture isn’t just for the workers on your payroll. A safe work environment is also an expectation of contractors, and getting them involved in your safety culture is critical to helping them remain safe on the job.
We’re living in an increasingly complex workforce, where employees and contractors alike are traveling between locations. It’s a challenging task for any EHS department leader to keep track of temporary workforces, contractors, and regular hires and their roles within the company.
While contractors aren’t employees of your company, their safety is still your responsibility. Contractors that become injured while performing work for you could hold you liable, and the financial consequences could be even more severe than if one of your own employees were to get hurt.
Your workers are your most valuable asset, whether they’re a regular employee or a temporary contractor. And while you may be limited as to how a contractor performs a job, a strong safety culture can help to set the right example.
Take a look at The Campbell Institute’s five best practices for monitoring contractor safety:
Prior to hiring any contractor in your organization, it’s the company’s responsibility to do their due diligence. This includes looking at a contractor’s safety record, how they use leading indicators, and other safety-related statistics that can help make a sound hiring decision. It should be common practice for companies to require contractors to submit certain statistics prior to hiring, including any OSHA recordables, that paint a clear picture of their commitment to safety.
The company should conduct a task and risk assessment of the job to be performed prior to any contractor beginning work. This will allow EHS leaders to understand the risks involved with the work and can help contractors better understand the scope of the job. This evaluation can pave the way for additional safety programs and training to be initiated.
Training and orientation should be mandatory for every contractor and every project. Completion of and performance during this training can be used to approve the contractor to begin work. This is also a good opportunity to obtain copies of any licenses, permits, or other special certifications for projects. These could be related to electrical, confined space entry, hot work, forklift licenses, or other hazardous jobs. Other potential risks associated with the job duties, such as fall hazards, should be covered in training prior to beginning work.
Regardless of the contract term, whether it’s five days or five months, diligent companies will require periodic checkpoints along the way to ensure safety remains a high priority. This could be a combination of safety checklists, safety talks, job site walkthroughs, or other assessments.
Some members in The Campbell Institute’s research panel indicated they require contractors to submit workplace safety observations. Contractors were given a set quota each month to help them remain vigilant of unsafe practices, hazards, or non-compliance while on the job.
The post-evaluation process in contractor management is a major missed opportunity in many organizations. Oftentimes companies place such a large emphasis on sourcing contractors that they fail to observe whether the work performed was done safely and correctly. One of the ways you can evaluate the contractor’s effectiveness is to look at the contractor reports, claims, observations, and injury rates. This can give you a better idea as to the effectiveness of contractor training and how the contractor prioritized safety. As a result of this process, companies are better prepared to screen applicants and avoid contracting with those that are higher risk.
Whether you work with contractors on the regular or just once in a while, contractor safety should remain a priority in your organization.
EHS Insight is helping companies of all sizes manage contractor relations to ensure each party is committed to safety. From training to regulatory compliance and more, we’re helping companies like yours extend their safety culture to everyone invested in the company. Try EHS Insight for yourself and see how it’s helping companies shape safety practices that will make an impact.
Further reading: Overcoming the Challenges of Contractor Safety
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