Not everyone does the same job the same way. You may have a completely different approach to handling a problem than a colleague may have. But you both should respect the same general workplace safety rules. Without a consensus, working with one another can cause chaos and create hazards.
The same is true when working with different contractors. In this article we are going to look at different contractors’ approaches to safety and how to ensure everyone is following the same safety rules
What Can Go Wrong
There have been situations where one company’s workers observed a contractor engaging in unsafe acts. Their work may have been excellent, but their actions caused safety concerns. They put everyone around them in danger. Let’s look at a few examples of contractors following safety rules—or not, as the case may be:
Kim, wearing PPE, wired an electrical panel for a contractor at a housing construction site. She did a couple of things differently but still managed to complete the job safely
- As Terry prepped his welding equipment he didn’t notice Jerome moving flammable materials nearby.
- Brian finished working on the roof of a new office complex. He took the unsafe shortcut of not using fall protection equipment because he was only going to be on the roof for a few minutes.
- Everyone in these scenarios did their jobs, but only one of them kept safety in mind when doing the work. Terry and Brian just got lucky. This time.
While you can’t expect every contractor to think and work the same way, every contractor needs to play by the same safety rules. When they don’t, the consequences can range from injuries and death, property and equipment damage, lawsuits, fines, and even jail time.
Protecting Your Employees — and Everyone Else
Working with contractors from other companies means sharing a commitment to safety and follow the same safety rules. Do the following so you can be on the same page about safety:
- Set and communicate expectations before work begins. Doing so reduces confusion and potential safety problems later.
- Set up regular meetings to talk to one another about work tasks and the hazards surrounding each activity.
- Establish a process to identify hazards and how they should be reported.
- Work together to come up with a safe solution and ensure corrective actions are taken and communicated with crews from each affected company.
- Watch over one another and point out safety issues as they arise.
- Remind your crews – when one worker takes a risk with his or her safety, it affects everyone on the job. They have two options if they observe an unsafe act or condition:
- Talk to the worker responsible.
- Report it to their (own) supervisor
Everyone on the worksite should commit to safety and avoid hazards. Use these and other suggestions to stay safe when working with contractors.
You can use one or all the ideas below to initiate short but meaningful, discussion, training, and learning among your crews.
1. Ask your employees to consider the following scenario and discuss what they would do.
a. Samson, a contractor, is working with you to complete a large housing project.
b. He consistently takes procedural shortcuts and it’s only a matter of time before something goes wrong.
c. What are three different ways you can ensure that everyone on site, including Samson, is on the same page about safety?
2. Review and discuss your company’s policies about working with contractors and subcontractors and allow time reviewing relevant contractor incidents and examples, and for Q&A to help everyone understand the policies.
3. Ask participants to write down how to complete a job task and identify safety concerns or hazards.
a. Compare. Discuss.
b. Emphasize that doing a job safely is the most important part.