Nov 17, 2021

How to Deal With Contractors and Risk Mitigation: Top 10 OSHA Incidents

Contractors and Risk Mitigation

In 1970, President Richard Nixon signed the Occupational Safety and Health Act when an estimated 14,000 workers were killed on the job, which adds up to a staggering 38 workers a day. By 2018 the number of deaths per year plummeted to 5,250 or approximately 14 workers a day, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Although still a totally unacceptable figure, it is clear that the policies put in place over a 50-year span reduced life-loss exponentially.

Some of the health and safety standards that have drastically changed over time include policing the following:

· Asbestos

· Fall protection

· Cotton dust

· Trenching

· Machine guarding

· Benzene

· Lead

· Blood borne pathogens

Still, too many preventable injuries and deaths continue to occur. Each year, over 3.5 million workers suffer serious job-related injuries or illnesses.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) routinely cites the ten most frequent hazards to alert employers about these prevalent standards. EHS directors, managers and supervisors push hard to do whatever is necessary to find and mitigate recognized hazards before OSHA visits their job sites and facilities. The number of preventable injuries and illnesses that occur in the workplace to third-party contractors, vendors and subcontractors is on the rise as the gig economy grows and businesses outsource labor.

Injuries due to workplace accidents in the United States costs employers more than $97.4 billion a year in workers' compensation. However, OSHA does not cover:

· Those who are self-employed

· Immediate family members of farm employers

· Work hazards governed by another regulated federal agency

Top Ten Most Frequently Cited OSHA Standards

1.   Fall Protection for contractors and employees working from heights

2.   Eye and Face Protection

3.   Respiratory Protection Around Noxious Fumes

4.   Ladders being improperly used on the job site

5.   Hazard Communication Standards in highly regulated industries

6.   Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout)

7.   Machinery and Machine Guarding in the manufacturing industry

8.   Scaffolding and general work site conditions in construction

9.   Powered Industrial Trucks in the general industry

10. Training requirements for employees and contractors

Understanding Risk Mitigation

Federal law clarifies that a person's employer must keep the workplace free of known health and safety issues. Workers (both employees and contractors) must be aware that they have a right to speak up about hazards without fear of retaliation. Some of these considerations include:

·      Workers have a right to question if a job exposes them to hazards and hiring organizations cannot deny contractors guidance, education, and proper safety measures before beginning work.

·      An employee, contractor or a worker’s representative may file a complaint by phone, mail, or internet message to the local OSHA office. If an employer retaliates against exercising their health and safety rights, they should contact their local OSHA office as soon as possible.

·      Additionally, workers don't need to know whether a specific OSHA infraction has transpired to file a complaint.

Risk mitigation is not just a concern for workers, it’s also a crucial aspect of any business’s relationship with its employees and contractors. Some of the preventative actions a hiring organization can undertake to protect itself from the risk contractors pose to their organization include:

·      Requiring different levels of due diligence when hiring contractors for the scope of the work, credentials and history of incidents.

·      Improved on-site auditing/oversight of every contractor’s work to ensure corporate policies are adhered to.

·      Ensuring proper training of every third-party contractor. This includes every employee of that contracted company.

·      Having efficient systems in place to know exactly who is on-site at all times and if those workers are compliant.

·      Creating a health and safety program that is proactive instead of reactive. This includes the ability to rapidly deploy new protocols that every contractor must adhere to, such as aCOVID-19 vaccine policy.

The Million Dollar Question

So now that you have identified the risks that contractors pose to your business and understand where OSHA cites the majority of its violations, the million-dollar question is: how do I solve for x? Let’s say you have 10 policies and 100 contractors that have 10 employees each, can your health and safety team handle the compliance process for 10,000 documents? If you are using spreadsheets to track compliance and chasing people for certifications by email, the answer is a resounding “no”. Manually tracking training, insurance, corporate policy acknowledgement, health and safety credentials and other crucial information is a task best done by technology.

Enter the solution you’ve been waiting for, Contractor Compliance. Using software to help you with contractor management is an absolute must in today’s day and age. Contractor Compliance enables you to collect, track and requalify compliance documentation all in one place. Some of the countless benefits of using a digital solution like ours include:

·      Real time compliance monitoring of contractors and their employees.

·      Customized to your current process, configurable by facility, region, role, etc.

·      A “single source of truth” for compliance, accessible from anywhere, any time on any device.

·      Quick and painless implementation. Two quick calls and it is live.

·      The Contractor Compliance team sets everything up for you AND onboards your contractors.

·      Impressive reporting functionality and audit-ready insights at your fingertips.

·      Automated compliance notifications for expiring credentials reduces admin time by 70%.

·      Ability to give role-based permissions to various arms of your businesses to improve corporate visibility and enable more productive workflows.

The Contractor Compliance Advantage

We aren’t the only solution helping companies better manage their contractors. Unlike our competitors, Contractor Compliance is designed to help businesses of all shapes and sizes. We are the most affordable solution available to you and your contractor workforce and our team is constantly winning awards for best-in-class support and ease of use. The reviews from our clients have resulted in a nearly perfect score on every software review website that matters, we invite you to check us out on Capterra and G2 Crowd!

There are hundreds of other advantages to using Contractor Compliance but the best way to learn more about how we can help your organization is to take a quick, custom product tour with one of our experts. Schedule yours today!  

About the Author

Addison Moore
Director of Marketing at Contractor Compliance

Addison has spent the last four years learning from and participating in the Health & Safety community. He has travelled to numerous EHS conferences, trade shows and events with the intention of helping organizations with their contractor management programs. Addison is also responsible for curating the collection of white papers, case studies and eBooks that provide real world insights into the workforce safety space.

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