Contractor safety management, a collection of integrated management processes designed to reduce the risks associated with contractors, is of vital importance to companies.
Companies are also increasingly relying on the use of contractors on their worksites. It is especially true in the construction industry where contractors fill one of every five jobs in the United States and are expected to make up nearly half the U.S. workforce in the 2020s.
Despite advances in safety equipment and training, contractor safety is far from perfect. The construction industry, for example, has high rates of nonfatal and fatal injuries compared to other industries. In fact, one in five deaths on the job in the U.S. is attributed to construction workers.
By exploring the roadblocks to contractor safety management in industries from construction and manufacturing to mining and agriculture, there is a clear way to safer practices.
Challenges to contractor safety management
There are several challenges that companies face when implementing contractor safety management programs, including:
Lack of control: Organizations often have limited control over the safety practices of contractors, as contractors are typically not employees of the organization. This can make it difficult to ensure that contractors follow the organization’s safety policies and procedures.
Shortage of management tools: organizations lack technology for managing contractor performance levels. Knowing performance and security scores would enable companies to deploy smarter.
Different safety cultures: Contractors may come from other organizations with their own safety cultures and practices. This can lead to misunderstandings and difficulties enforcing the organization’s safety policies and procedures.
Communication barriers: Language or cultural barriers may hinder effective communication between the organization and contractors, leading to misunderstandings in enforcing safety policies and procedures.
No onboarding process: one of the reasons for communication barriers is due to a lack of onboarding. This important stage for new contractors is an opportunity to stress safety and share safety procedures.
Lack of resources: Organizations may lack resources or personnel to monitor and enforce safety policies and procedures for contractors.
Resistance to change: Some contractors may resist changes in safety practices, resulting in challenges in implementing new policies and procedures.
Strategies for keeping contractors safe
The first step to keeping contractors safe is to ensure your company hires contractors with good safety records and an aptitude for following the organization’s safety standards. By having a process for prequalification, it is added assurance that the company employs safety-conscious contractors.
Your company should have safety policies and procedures for personal protective equipment (PPE), hazard identification/assessment and emergency response. Permit management meets compliance requirements and helps ensure contractors are equipped to be on-site—a critical safety step.
Do contractors understand the organization’s safety procedures? Training and communications help raise awareness of potential risks on work sites and remind contractors of safety practices to follow. Attestations do the work of confirming contractors receive the messages.
Monitoring and evaluation assists with adherence to policies and procedures. Are contractors following safety standards while on-site? Safety audits, inspections and incident investigations all contribute to verification and learnings for improving the contractor safety management program.
The role of technology in contractor safety management
Contractor safety management software can streamline and automate many contractor safety processes. Your company can use the software to pre-qualify and onboard contractors, then monitor them on site, as well as proactively manage their contracting companies.
You can leverage interactive and real-time dashboards to visualize contractor league tables, showing metrics like the number of contractor incidents, injury rates, unsafe behaviors, and drug and alcohol test results. In an instant, you can rank the list of contracting companies based on their safety performance record.
Because all data resides in one central register, record-keeping is simple and straightforward. Contract information, renewals, prequalification and specialized contractor status for tasks like asbestos removal or hot work are all easily accessible ensuring efficient access to choose the right contractor for a job.
For ensuring the safety of all workers on site, consider automated and mobile control of work that brings together permit to work, job risk assessment and isolation management. Workers are authorized to be on site and verified to have the right credentials and training, the level of risk is known, and controls are in place for everyone’s safety.
A mobile-ready Lockout Tagout (LOTO) streamlines the process of disabling, isolation, and de-energizing equipment and machinery easily by every worker. The key is mobile-empowered contractors and employees—a mobile app is a must-have for contractor safety.
SAI360’s Approach to Contractor Safety Management
The SAI360 solution allows users to issue and track site approval and how it relates to contractors for approvals and test results for drugs and alcohol. The register facilitates tracking incidents and injuries with contractors for reporting and investigations.
With SAI360’s mobile app, you can ensure contractors have access to the right procedures and critical information at the point they need it. Interactive procedural walkthroughs provide guidance on the go and can be available in multiple languages to reduce communication barriers.
The power of contractor safety management technology shines in data analytics, reports and dashboards that interpret collected disparate data to reveal where risks may occur. You can transform data into visualizations that give safety leaders the view needed to make a data-supported decision.
You can also integrate contractor management with other EHS modules for industrial hygiene, occupational health, waste management, and more for an integrated picture of contractor safety.
Improve contractor safety
Companies employing contractors can advance contractor safety management and improve the safety of all workers on work sites. By following best practice strategies and using a technology solution that adapts to your company’s operations, you can automate the processes of contractor safety management. Doing so will lead to improved operational performance, reduce costs and mitigate potential safety disasters. It will also equip your company to make informed staffing and health and safety decisions, along with greater flexibility and stronger alignment with business objectives.