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Using contractors offers many benefits. You can offset labor costs, increase operational flexibility, and get quick access to highly-skilled workers, to name a few, but managing these contractors also creates challenges. It often involves extra administrative work and adds increased levels of uncertainty as to whether the people working at your site possess the training, certification(s), and skills to complete their work safely.

During our recent webinar, “Ensuring 100% Certainty with Contractor Safety & Compliance”, EHS and Sustainability Expert, Greg Duncan, addressed these concerns by sharing best practices for strengthening processes around contractor management and verification.

Here are two ways you can address your existing contractor management processes and challenges.

Familiarize Yourself with The Contractor Safety Management Lifecycle

Like the continuous improvement cycle—Plan, Do, Check, Act—the Contractor Safety Management Lifecycle provides a “systems-based approach” to developing and maintaining a sustainable contractor management process. Steps in the Contractor Safety Management Lifecycle include:

  1. Contract Safety Planning: Here, you’ll assess all reasonably foreseeable risks to contactors’ health and safety, and any others who may be affected by contractor work performance. Be sure to look at the nature of the work being carried out, the equipment and materials that will be used, the locations of the work being performed, and the complexity of the work. Then, develop a pre-contract qualification questionnaire that contactors must pass to work on your site and meet your organization’s compliance standards and protocols.
  2. Evaluation: In this phase, you’ll review potential contractors’ documentation and responses to your pre-contract qualification questionnaire to determine if they’re able to manage the known and foreseeable risks at your site and ensure they’re compatible with your organization’s safety policies and standards.
  3. Implementation: During implementation, you’ll provide appropriate task or job-specific safety documentation, like a Safety Management System (SMS) Plan, which assures that the systems and controls discussed during the evaluation phase are in place before the contractor begins work. The SMS plan should consider how a contractor integrates with your internal safety management system to ensure that their practices are aligned with yours.
  4. Operations: This is when contractors are on-site, so you’ll take steps to evaluate their performance within the scope of workplace safety. You’ll monitor the activities going on and ensure that the proper controls are in place as outlined in your plan.
  5. Performance Review: During this phase, the contract is formally closed and it’s time to go back and gather information on the lessons learned during the contract operations. This info must be fed back into the contractor procurement process to drive continuous improvement. Review what went well, what didn’t go well, what was/wasn’t effective, and use that information to implement more efficient processes the next time and make updates to your pre-qualification process and questionnaire.

Use the 5-Step Process to Effectively Manage Contractors

The session then shifted to a discussion of some specific tactics and improvements that employers can use to optimize various phases of the contractor safety management lifecycle. These included:

  1. Contractor Verification Questionnaire – Questionnaires are often sent, tracked, and managed as static documents through email. Optimize your questionnaires by establishing a document management system to speed up the process of exchanging, submitting, and reviewing questionnaires. This will reduce the length of time it takes to pre-qualify contractors so they can get on-site sooner and get their work done.
  2. Submission of Method Statements/Risk Assessments for Approval – Using different systems and document formats slows down the transmission of method statements and risk assessments, which make approvals take longer than they should. Standardizing your method statements and risk assessments and implementing a system for direct transmission and evaluation will help speed up these approvals.
  3. Request for Permit-to-Work – These are often managed as paper/static documents and require many steps and multiple people to get them completed and into the hands of contractors—often resulting in long queues waiting for permits. Optimize this process by establishing a system where contractors can submit permit requests electronically, and which notifies you when the requests are received.
  4. Approval of Permit/Authorization to Site – This can be a challenge because employers frequently have multiple contractors across multiple sites and you need to prioritize contract approval based on variables such as risk level, job type, etc. Plus, not all permits are alike, so it takes time to verify that the specific conditions and requirements of each permit are met. Establishing a method to organize and prioritize permits based on these different variables and then using it to monitor and manage permit status can help streamline this step.
  5. Check-In and Access – Waiting to verify contractor approval and issue badges can cut into valuable time on-site. Streamline this process by establishing a system to easily track, display, and share incoming contractor information for security/HR/EHS and other affected departments.

How VelocityEHS Can Help

Contractors are ready to work, and hiring contractors provides great benefits to host employers who need the job done quickly. However, inefficient administrative tasks can create unnecessary bottlenecks and barriers to quick completion of work and may lead to poor visibility of key qualifications and approval processes, ultimately inviting risk into your workplace.

Processes like the “Contractor Safety Management Lifecycle” and the “5-Steps to Effective Contractor Management” are widely-accepted best practices that can help your organization minimize communication barriers between contractors and your organization and maximize contractor safety, but implementing these processes depends on having a system to track and manage the associated administrative tasks.

VelocityEHS® Control of Work is that system. Control of Work allows you to seamlessly manage the complete contractor journey and electronic permit-to-work process in a centralized system so you can ensure 100% certainty with contractor safety and compliance. Fast forward to the end of the webinar to see a quick demo!