Best practices for managing contractors

In matters of health and safety, managing third-party contractors as efficiently as your own employees is crucial. But the blurred lines between what makes sense and what’s required can make it difficult to keep track of your efforts.

Following these best practices can help you better manage your contractors, so they meet your internal standards as well as regulatory ones.

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Onboarding and training

Onboarding third-party contractors can be a nightmare if you don’t have a dedicated system in place. A common mistake is to assume that these employees require less of your resources to onboard, train, and manage. But if you’ve ever tried to scale your contractor workforce, you’ll know how untrue that is.

In fact, many companies would argue that training contractors is more difficult than training full-time employees. And that’s because most businesses struggle to maintain oversight of the process from start to finish.

Outsourcing safety training to local or national safety councils is a common practice. This removes the headache of scheduling and moderating classes. It also eliminates the time investment needed to create training materials from scratch.

But this approach can make it harder to ensure that all workers who show up to your facility or worksite have the required training. Most companies who go this route must, on some level, coordinate with the contractor to track progress—a tedious process without the right tools.

A simple, yet critical best practice for onboarding contractors is to document and track the process as comprehensively as you can. To do this, you’ll likely need a central location where leaders from each department can view training records.

The best option for scalable, long-term growth is a contractor safety management software solution, although smaller companies tend to start with a manual recordkeeping system.

Contractor management software helps by:

  • Allowing you to schedule training
  • Providing real-time progress reports for contractors
  • Creating automatic records of all past training
  • Sending reminders to contractors who haven’t completed modules

It also has the added benefit of preventing non-compliant individuals from accessing a worksite in the first place. The last thing you want is to spend your time running around a jobsite trying to find people who need to finish their training.

Tracking the training process from the moment contractors begin onboarding is a critical component of worksite compliance management. And it can impact your bottom line as well.

Cost management

Cost-benefit analysis is crucial when considering whether to outsource areas of your operation. And one of the major components of cost management is ensuring that contractors remain compliant with both internal and external regulations.

Saving money by hiring contractors, only to suffer a massive safety incident or receive a hefty citation due to lack of compliance, is a substantial risk to consider.

So, it’s safe to say that choosing a contractor should be a thoughtful process that takes a look at the contractor’s:

  • Alignment with your company’s culture and management practices
  • Regulatory compliance (safety, environmental practices, etc.)
  • Approach to budgeting resources

These (and other) factors will help you weed out contractors who simply don’t have the same approach to safety as you. And it may also extend the lifespan of your partnership. After all, if you spend time up front to find contractors whose values align with your own, you won’t have the need to switch companies so often.

Once you’ve chosen your contractor(s), it’s important to perform regular audits. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to leave contract employees out of your internal safety assessments, training refresher courses, and other important continuous improvement initiatives.

You should treat these employees the same as your own workers as much as you can. This not only ensures their continued compliance with EHS measures but can strengthen your relationship with contractors in other areas of the business as well.