Why You Need to Maintain Contractor Safety Policies
Having a culture of safety in the workplace isn’t just for your own employees. Your contractors are also expected to follow policies and be involved in upholding your culture of safety. Although having a complex web of contractors can make it extremely difficult to maintain safety policies across the board, it must be done.
Who Is Responsible for Contractor Safety?
Ultimately, you can be held liable for any contractor who is injured while performing work on your behalf.
As published by OH&S:
“Where an employer exercises supervisory control or requires a contractor to observe its workplace safety guidelines, the employer’s duty of reasonable care is commensurate with the control it retains over the independent contractor.”
As well as:
“...Where the employer retains some control over the manner in which an independent contractor’s work is to be performed but does not retain the degree of control that would subject him to general responsibility for the acts of the independent contractor, the employer will be liable for failing to exercise reasonable care in the supervision which is retained.”
It is concluded that:
“...Where the negligent act of the contractor is directly related to the control of the owner over safety, an owner may be liable. This simply reinforces what owners already know: Safety requirements must be well thought-out, regularly reviewed, and updated as appropriate.
What Are the Potential Risks?
While increasing efficiency and achieving economies of scale are benefits of keeping a clean safety track record, there are serious risks involved with the failure to reinforce contractor safety.
Some of these risks include:
Poor quality control
Unnecessary costs, financial disruptions, fines
Damage to company reputation
Being left uncovered by insurance policies
Laying these risks out on the table and splitting them between departments (operations, procurement, etc.) will give you an idea of how serious the repercussions can become without the correct safety policies and procedures in place—and if they are not reinforced by every contractor on every job.
How Can You Protect Against the Risks?
The first step to protecting yourself against the risks of unsafe contractors is to practice a strong safety culture in your own workplace and to carry that culture through to every contractor you hire. When you are committed to safety and invest in it, you’ll see policies and practices shaped to accommodate compliance.
Now, here are a few other steps you can take to maintain and achieve comprehensive practices that fall in line with your company’s safety policies.
Due diligence is key here. Before you hire any contractor, it’s your responsibility to take a hard look at their:
Leading indicators and how they are used
Safety-related statistics, including OSHA recordables or other regulatory numbers
Having this information upfront will give you a clearer view of the contractor’s safety commitment.
Before work begins, conduct a risk assessment of the job that a contractor is to work on. This may well lead to the realization that additional safety measures need to be put in place. Safety programs and training are examples.
Obtain All Paperwork
Be sure to gather all required paperwork from contractors before work starts. This can include:
Complete Mandatory Training and Orientation
Every contractor on every project should receive training and orientation before being approved to work. Any risks that were uncovered during an assessment should be addressed, as well as all safety policies and expectations.
Checking in on safety should be done regularly to ensure compliance. This could be done through a mixture of:
Conduct a Post-Job Evaluation
Once the job is completed, look at whether or not the job was performed safely. Look through the following to help in your evaluation:
Use Contractor Vetting and Management Software
Even though the risks of contractor safety non-compliance are great, the scale of vetting and managing each can be thoroughly overwhelming in the resources it can take to do correctly. This is where the technology of Avetta software shines.
Contractor management software allows you to improve safety and significantly decrease your risk by streamlining your qualification process and increasing your visibility.