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How to ensure a construction contractor meets safety and work standards

For individuals who work in the construction industry, safety is paramount. Despite being one of the most-regulated of all industries and subject to the direct oversight and inspection by city, state and federal agencies, every year thousands of U.S. construction workers are injured and killed on the job.

When attempting to ensure for the safety of workers, construction employers face many challenges. In addition to the many inherent dangers associated with this industry, growing complexity in how projects are assigned, managed and completed also contribute to the already hazardous work environments in which construction workers must attempt to safely complete jobs.

An increased reliance on and use of contractors and subcontractors mean that it's more difficult for construction employers and site managers to ensure that all workers are on the same page with regard to training, skill-level and use of safety equipment. Recently, safety experts at the Campbell Institute identified "best practices within each of the five identified steps of the contractor lifecycle," which construction employers can reference when hiring and managing relationships with construction contractors.

For example, when selecting a contractor to complete specific portions of a construction project, employers are advised to establish a vetting and prequalification process which automatically weeds out those contractors that don't meet certain safety standards. Once a contractor has been hired, a risk assessment should be completed to determine the safety risks associated with the specific contracted job. Based on this assessment, training and orientation materials should be tailored to ensure that individual contract workers are provided the information and training necessary to safety do their jobs.

Once work has begun, an employer and site manager would be wise to continually monitor how work is being performed. Doing so not only ensures that workers are abiding by safety requirements, but also that the work being completed is up-to-code. Once a project is completed, for the benefit of an employer and contractor, a post-job evaluation should be completed that rates a contractor on overall safety as well as the quality of work completed.

For any construction employer that hires contractors, establishing best practices like these can improve site safety and help reduce the number of accidents and injuries.

Source: EHS Today, "Campbell Institute Report Highlights Five Ways to Keep Contractors Safe," Sandy Smith, Dec. 1, 2015

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