Contractor Management and Safety Culture
Nowadays, outsourcing is a common practice. Often, this work can be done off site, with little to no risk imposed to that company. However, there are many instances where work required by a company necessitates bringing contractor employees onsite. When this is done, it’s the responsibility of the hiring company to ensure the safety and health of the contractors is managed. So how is this done?
Evolution of Contractor Management
Contractor management has evolved significantly. Industries have become increasingly more aware of the dangers in not addressing contractor employee risk through training and adherence to company protocols. Historically, the view of contractors and their safety was not given much consideration beyond ensuring work performed met the standards required in terms of quality. Nonetheless, over time it became evident that while companies were investing time in training and informing their own employees about safety risks onsite, contractors were not benefiting from the same knowledge. This led to a higher rate of incidents among this pool of workers.
Pitfalls of Conflicting Views
When work is kept in-house, companies are able to more carefully control all aspects of an employee’s job activities to guarantee work quality and consistency. Unfortunately, there are many times where specialized knowledge for a particular job is required and a company’s only option is to outsource this work to other businesses who are trained and competent to complete these tasks. When this occurs, a greater risk is incurred through the loss of control in outsourcing the work. Problems can arise with conflicting views on the importance of safety, the level of risk that each company is willing to absorb, and the procedures used to complete a job that may put a contractor employee in harm’s way.
Safety Program Evaluation
So how can hiring companies keep all of their workers safe while onsite? One high-level way is to understand a potential contractor’s safety program. Prior to starting work, evaluate contractors from the proposal stage. A prequalification matrix that incorporates safety is a simple method to quickly understand a contractor’s approach to safety and eliminate unsafe practices before any agreement to perform work is completed.
The second way to approach contractor safety is to complete a risk assessment with your company’s safety team as well as the contractor company team to ensure all parties are examining the risk involved with a job. To complete a meaningful risk assessment, the persons doing the work must be included in the risk assessment. It’s not sufficient to have just any representative in the risk assessment, even if that representative belongs to the safety department of the contractor company. The persons performing the task must be present to outline all job activities and how they will be performed so that risks can be properly captured and mitigated.
Prior to contractors entering and working on a particular site, they must be required to complete a company orientation that specifies any safety concerns, important EHS policies and procedures, as well as emergency response factors such as muster points and escape routes in the event of an emergency. This is crucial as contractors should be provided with the same level of basic knowledge about a company’s safety practices as employees.
Finally, hiring companies must always monitor work while underway and complete a post job evaluation. Most importantly, monitoring work can help new contractors who may be unfamiliar with a new site by guiding them from the start to follow EHS procedures. Standards can become stale in the mind’s of contractors, therefore by monitoring performance, companies emphasize the day-to-day importance they place on safety. Additionally, evaluating work after it is completed will allow a company to point out any deficiencies that need to be corrected prior to signing off on work completion. With these tools, companies are creating a safety culture inclusive of all of its workers.