Of the many intricate steps involved in a complete contractor lifecycle, onboarding and orientation are one of the first and most important steps. Getting your orientation right the first time around can secure a successful trajectory for your contractors and the project they’re working on. The nature of a contractor orientation is dependent on many factors such as industry type, line of business, workforce size, and number of contractors. Naturally, hiring organizations are often unclear on what to include in their contractor safety orientation due to best practices and legal requirements differing greatly from one industry to another. In this article, we will detail an all-encompassing guide on industry-wide best practices on how to build out a concrete contractor safety orientation so you can onboard your workers with confidence.
What is contractor safety orientation?
This is the process in which new contractors are briefed on pertinent safety information related to their role. It is one of the first steps in a contractor lifecycle and ensures that your workers are set up for success. The importance of holding these orientations is twofold. Firstly, it provides workers with the necessary guidance they require to operate safely at your worksite. Second, it provides the hiring organization with an added layer of safety should you experience any unforeseen incidents during the project. While returning contractors are often more comfortable and experienced in your work environment, safety orientations are especially helpful to new hires. In fact, new hires are five times more likely than experienced workers to get injured on the job.
Factors of safety orientation
There are multiple steps involved in creating a solid contractor safety orientation. These steps can be deployed through multiple formats such as contractor management software, onsite training, and pre-recorded training sessions communicated prior to arriving at a worksite. Below is a chronological walkthrough of vital information that a hiring organization must provide to new hires in their orientation:
- Define Job Objectives: The first step in your orientation process is to define and communicate the safety objectives related to the job. Every company has its own compliance targets unique to their industry’s legal requirements and best practices when it comes to safety management. These points need to be communicated to new contractors to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
- Communicate Overall Risk: You are legally obligated to communicate all the risks and hazards associated with a job or workplace. Subsequently, contractors hold the legal right to be made aware of and educated on all said risks and hazards. Prior to starting their work, you must ensure that your new hires have been efficiently briefed on how to approach job specific risks, the present hazards at the worksite, and what tools and practices they can deploy in order to keep themselves safe. Leaving out this vital component from your orientation program is a surefire way to potentially open yourself up to increased liability and the possibility of a workplace incident.
- Explain Safety Protocol: Defining the procedures and best practices of workplace safety is the second half of efficient risk management. Your contractors must be trained on how to carry out certain tasks such as lockout/tagout procedures, correct machine guarding, how to safely dispose of materials/chemicals, how to operate heavy equipment at the worksite, and so on. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is also a very important protocol to implement and follow. New hires should be briefed on what required PPE they will be using, how to use it correctly, and where and when they will require certain equipment. For example, contractors should know in what vicinity it is required that they wear hearing protection when working in loud environments.
- Define Their Role in Safety: At any company, every person involved has a shared role in safety as well as a personal responsibility to upkeep certain standards. The roles and levels of responsibility differ depending on the position and job function you hold at an organization, therefore it is vital that you communicate to contractors in specific exactly what is expected of them. As we all know by now, the first step in safety is buy-in. This means that everyone should approach safety with the same level of care. Having clearly defined expectations assists in enabling contractors to take part in the internal safety culture of the company as a whole.
- Communicate Safety Resources: Subsequently, contractors must know who or what to turn to regarding any concerns they may have over workplace safety. You should clearly communicate who is responsible for overseeing safety, supervising worksites, and managing incidents. Furthermore, you should inform your contractors on how they can contact these people to voice their concerns. Additionally, you should make an effort to provide your workers with safety information resources such as contact information to relevant parties such as ethics hotlines, emergency response protocols, workers’ compensation insurance information, and tools to safely come forward in the event of witnessing/partaking in unsafe practices.
While contractor safety management is a complex beast made up of many different bits and pieces, you can only do so much without laying out a proper foundation first. A significant portion of laying out that foundation is ensuring that you have a fail proof contractor safety orientation program that is simple to implement and provides your workers with the tools necessary to complete their jobs safely and successfully. Informing your workforce of risks and hazards, proper safety procedures, and tools and resources available to them ensures that they have the opportunity to buy into safety just as much as you have, ultimately creating a safe and compliant workplace for all.
Faris Badaro is Junior Marketing Specialist for Contractor Compliance, a SaaS software for contractor management.