EHS Management

How to Help Critical Contractors Improve Safety Compliance

Unapproved contractors—those who don’t meet your company’s standards based on OSHA or company-specific health and safety hiring prerequisites—become critical to your business when they are repeatedly hired to meet unusual or unexpected workload demands despite their questionable safety records. Using them is a risky, yet sometimes necessary, part of doing business.

safety statistics and data

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You can mitigate the potential for risks, including injury, work disruption, and damage to your business reputation, by leveraging a contractor management program that focuses on safety and includes clearly defined processes for making hiring exceptions and managing risk. A strong program offers visibility into your workforce gaps and provides valuable tools for helping contractors improve their safety compliance so that you can use them without exception next time, getting work done without disruption and without compromising safety and integrity.

Why a Complete Contractor Management Safety Solution Makes All the Difference

A contractor management safety solution helps authorize and manage risks associated with hiring decisions and accelerates contractor time to work. By leveraging the support of technology—whether as a Word document, spreadsheet, or a complete software solution—it can provide a central repository of valuable data and documents related to hires.

Important contractor data to capture often include the following:

  • OSHA injury rates, Experience Modification Rate (EMR), and safety manuals, which should be reviewed and translated to an overall safety compliance status or grade for the contractor. For example, an A or a B grade may indicate strong compliance, while a contractor with a D or an F safety grade likely has a less than stellar safety record, requiring hiring exceptions and risk mitigation measures if that contractor must be used.
  • Any findings/results from contractor safety audits.
  • Information related to contractor exception requests, such as who approved the exception and under what conditions, as well as which contractors, locations, types of work, etc., continuously require exceptions.

Software solutions for contractor management provide real-time access to this aggregated data, enabling you to consistently monitor the safety of your contractor workforce. They can also flag concerns and provide deeper insights into trends in need of attention—for instance, highlighting a critical contractor with a poor safety grade that has been repeatedly granted an exception without incident, making it deserving of extra time and resources to help it improve its status.

This is when the following types of tools can be leveraged consecutively to help unapproved contractors move from being an exception hire to being cleared and ready for immediate assignment:

1. Contractor Safety Audits

Contractor safety audits conducted by your staff or a third party are important for ensuring a safe workplace, especially when you employ third-party workers for high-risk work. Audits serve as powerful tools to verify actual implementation of a contractor’s safety program, identify any program gaps, and improve contractor safety performance.

Desktop audits collect and analyze contractor records and documentation to determine whether a contractor company has implemented safety policies as outlined in its safety manual.

Field audits allow you to talk with and observe contractor personnel at a jobsite so that you can assess their safety practices and determine if they are regularly following provided guidelines.

Both audit types provide data and deeper intelligence regarding the quality of your contractor’s safety measures and yield valuable reports to serve as communication vehicles between you and the contractor. The reports let a contractor know what it needs to do to improve safety compliance in order to reach prerequisites for approved status.

2. Formal Corrective Action Processes

Audits should include formal corrective action processes where contractors outline, and you approve, the specific steps they’ll take to close any identified gaps and improve safety compliance.

A corrective action plan provides clear direction and can incentivize contractors to meet company-specific safety prerequisites. Veriforce contractors undergo a desktop audit every 2 years and are awarded points that help improve their overall safety grade when they provide a written plan that outlines how they will implement corrective actions to address deficiencies identified in their audit reports. The use of a formal corrective action process has motivated contractors to address compliance gaps, resulting in significant improvement in the quality of safety programs.

3. Follow-Up Audits

After conducting a desktop or field audit and working with the contractor to define corrective actions to help an unapproved contractor make the grade, a follow-up audit can be used to gauge and expedite progress.

A follow-up audit gives you the opportunity to verify that the planned corrective actions outlined by the contractor were implemented, highlight any new areas in need of attention, and provide direction or next steps. It also serves to reinforce that safety is a top priority of your organization and reminds contractors that employment hinges on adherence.

4. Performance Reviews

Performance reviews are conducted quarterly or annually, keeping communication flowing and providing a feedback loop between hiring client and contractor.

They don’t necessarily require a separate meeting. It’s likely that supply chain managers within your organization conduct regular meetings with outside vendors to measure and manage performance. Those meetings may present an ideal opportunity for a safety discussion. If so, ensure that the meeting addresses how safety stats, such as total recordable case rate (TRCR), are trending, and review the status of corrective actions made since your initial audit so that contractors have a clear understanding of where they stand.

Paving the Way for Smoother Hiring and Safer Jobsites

By leveraging the tools and data provided by your contractor management safety solution, you can help valuable contractors improve their health and safety compliance and more quickly earn approved status in your program. You’ll ultimately strengthen your organization’s safety culture, protecting its workers and its bottom line. For more information on how Veriforce partners with hiring clients to improve safety compliance, visit Veriforce.com.

Marcus Pettus is Safety and Supply Chain Product Manager for Veriforce.