Companies often struggle to maintain high safety standards with their contractors and subcontractors. Contractor safety, whether in mining, oil & gas, manufacturing, or any other industry, continues to be a concern for organizations trying to maintain or improve their safety performance. In general, contractors seem to have one of three very simple reasons.
1. They don’t know
You might have the expectation that a contractor working on-site for your company is aware of all basic safety policies and safe operating procedures. However, this is based on some important assumptions. Has your team identified and analyzed all of the hazards and risks? Has your prequalification process ensured that they possess all of the required certifications and hazard reduction systems that are required to do your project safely? Does your orientation process make it clear to contractor employees what the requirements and expectations are?
Failure at any one of these steps can lead to a situation where the contractor does not clearly know what is required to perform the job safely. If you do not know what the risks and controls are, they may not be adequately screened for during the prequalification process. And if you fail to identify weaknesses in the contractor company’s safety program, or fail to explain to them what your expectations and policies are on the job site, it could lead to a situation where the contractor company is truly unaware of what constitutes “working safely” at your job site.
2. They don’t care
Wouldn’t it be perfect if all contracting companies truly care about safety, and take the necessary steps to ensure that their employees have all the essential training on safe work practices? Sadly, there will likely always be some that simply don’t care.
Unfortunately, everyone differs on how much they value and commit to safety, regardless of how many trainings, safety meetings, or briefings they attend. Using contractors who assess their own employees using safety tests can help address this challenge, as well as examining the commitment and involvement of their leadership when it comes to safety.
3. They just can’t
Most contractors will assure you that they can do the job safely, on time, and under budget, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are equipped to do so. They may have the best intentions and honestly believe they can do it based on past successes, but this may not apply to larger, more hazardous, or complex projects. Whether it’s training, manpower, or budget, there are always potential constraints for contractors (especially medium and small size organizations) that can limit their capability to get the job done while meeting your safety standards.
All three reasons can result in contractor safety issues. You can avoid these situations by developing a comprehensive contractor safety management system, using instruments to assess the risk probability and safety awareness of their employees, and ensuring that they undergo an effective and thorough orientation program once they are on your job site.
Ultimately, when you use contractors, it’s your company’s reputation and survival that is on the line.