Creating a culture of safety isn’t just meant for full-time employees of an organization. It requires the involvement all workers whether full-time, temporary or contract and the diligence of the companies or organizations where their work occurs. Contractor safety management is extremely relevant in our increasingly global and complex world that involves work in multiple countries, non-routine work and the use of international and temporary workforces.
The Campbell Institute, the center of excellence for environmental health and safety at the National Safety Council, has released a new research report collecting the best practices of world-class EHS organizations around the management of contractor and supplier safety. Through analysis and interviews with 14 Campbell Institute members and partners, the Institute collected recommended practices for contractor management along five crucial steps of the contractor lifecycle:
- Pre-job task and risk assessment
- Training and orientation
- Job monitoring
- Post-job evaluation
Prequalification: In this phase, all research participants assess contractors on their safety statistics, such as Experience Modification Rate (EMR), Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR), fatality rate, DART and other OSHA recordables. These rates and numbers are well understood across organizations of all sizes and industries, which make them standard for data collection and evaluation. All participants also require contractors to submit these statistics for a given time period, typically the last three years. The above safety statistics are just a baseline, however, for the wealth of rates and numbers collected and calculated by Campbell Institute participants during the vetting process. Some members also look at injury logs, environmental reports and presence of continuous improvement programs.
Pre-job task and risk assessment: Before a contractor begins work, Campbell members recommend that an organization have a method to evaluate the risk of the work to be performed (typically per a risk matrix) to place contractors in a predetermined risk category. This process helps owners and contractors understand the scope of work and provide an opportunity for additional written safety programs to be put in place.
Training and orientation: All research participants require safety orientation and skills training of contractors in order for them to be approved for work. All also require special permits or training for specific kinds of work, including (but not limited to) confined space entry, electrical work, hot work, energy control, forklifts, elevated work, etc. Some Campbell members even provide specialized safety training such as HAZWOPER, hazard identification, PPE, LOTO and fall prevention.
Job monitoring: During this phase, every organization in the study has periodic assessments during the contract term, which varies from daily checklists and/or safety talks to weekly walkthroughs, to monthly and yearly assessments. Some Campbell members also require contract employees to submit safety observations (a set quota per month) or utilize mobile applications to report non-compliance or unsafe conditions. All research participants are in agreement that the maintenance of incident logs is also crucial to monitoring contractor safety during a project.
Post-job evaluation: Campbell members agree there should be specific post-work evaluative procedures in contractor guidelines. This is mostly due to the fact that so much effort is placed into the vetting process for contractors that a sufficient evaluation stage is needed to determine if the work was done correctly and safely. Analyses of contractor claims, observations and injury rates are some ways to measure the effectiveness of contractor training and if the work was performed safely.
This research shows that contractor safety management is a sustainable business practice. Screening for high incident rates and avoiding contracts to high-risk contractors not only reduces liability and insurance claims, but creates safer work sites and increases the potential profitability for all parties he involved – owners, contractors and subcontractors alike.
What tips can you share for keeping temporary and contract workers safe?
For more details and results from this research, and many other interesting topics, visit the Campbell Institute research site.
Joy Inouye is a Research Associate at the Campbell Institute of the National Safety Council.