In many industries across various organisations, augmenting a workforce with contractors is a common practice. Seasonal peaks and troughs in demand or specialist skill requirements often necessitate bringing in outside help rather than being able to rely solely on existing employees.
Utilising one’s in-house staff offers many advantages, including the assurance that all the employees within your workforce are trained and experienced to the same standards in skillsets and safety. They have in-depth knowledge of both the job requirements and the potential hazards involved.
On the other hand, even when dealing with highly skilled and reputable contractors, there will always be additional risks involved with their engagement. They will almost certainly not be aware of the unique risk factors relating to a particular project, or the specific safety systems in place to mitigate them. It is entirely possible that they may not have the required safety documentation, despite being otherwise qualified; e.g. trade licenses, insurance, work permits, white cards etc.
Contractors without doubt, carry additional risk for your business, however as with your employees, you can effectively mitigate and minimise those risks by taking some simple precautions.
Formulating your Minimum Requirements
Before you can assess whether a contractor is a good fit for your organisation or project, you need to know what criteria to look for. This is the first step in any contractor hiring process before you even start looking for candidates. Create a list of the qualifications, safety systems, insurances and experience which are required by the job or project. This list can then be used when considering potential contractors, removing the most obvious of risk factors before they have a chance to materialise.
Prequalification and Vetting
Thoroughly vetting and prequalifying all potential contractors prior to engagement, can have the largest impact on the amount of risk you undertake when bringing new contractors on-board.
Once you have a shortlist of candidates, prequalify and vet each one against a list of the specific and general requirements of the project. Check they have the relevant certificates and licenses, company documentation, verify job-specific experience, ensure they are trained in safety, and check references by contacting previous employers. Prequalification and vetting in this fashion can mitigate the vast majority of risk factors before they become an issue.
Drug and Alcohol Testing
When working in high-risk environments, such as a construction site, it’s especially important that everybody is operating with a clear head. Substance testing won’t remove all the risks, but it can make sure that everybody is focused and aware. However, please be wary of jumping to conclusions about potential contractors. Hire a professional testing company who is experienced in both conducting the tests and interpreting the results as you don’t want to discard an otherwise perfect candidate for having a drink on the weekend.
Even if the contractors are experienced at working safely, they may not be experienced in the precise risks associated with your project and work site. They also may not be aware of the systems and procedures your company has put in place to alert about and pre-emptively handle risks, in addition to what to do when something does go wrong.
Developing and enforcing ‘site specific’ inductions as well as mandatory training courses for contractors will help to fortify your safety procedures and make sure that every worker, in-house or contracted, is following the same protocols.
Rock solid contracts should be in place to protect both you and the contractor. Contracts should make sure to cover the details of responsibilities and liabilities for accident or incident on the job involving either party. This may include the details of what should be reported, and to whom, in addition to who may be financially liable for damages.
Contracts should detail the timelines expected and the penalties for the failure to meet them. Finally, they should also make clear the responsibilities for any errors or corrections required.
Verifying the presence and coverage of the contractor’s insurance may not help to prevent accidents on the job site but it will reduce the damages that may arise from them. The details of the insurance coverage, or lack thereof, may also highlight a history of risk factors that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.
Additionally, be sure to check both your own and the contractor’s insurance coverage in the event of financial troubles. You don’t want a contractor’s bankruptcy torpedoing a project.
How Can Conserve Help?
Conserve can assist you in mitigating the risks of hiring contractors by offering our advanced prequalification and contractor management system. Conserve helps to trust the contractors as you would your own staff. Whether utilised as a complete solution or used in parallel with an existing team in-house, we can assist you in checking all the relevant criteria before you put your staff or business at risk. Additionally, our system can pre-emptively track and notify you and your contractors of any expiring documentation, so you’re never caught off-guard.
Contact us today to learn more and see how Conserve can help you minimise your risks when hiring contractors.