In the last number of years, there has been a surge in companies moving to electronic systems to manage contractors, for a variety of positive reasons. Being involved in this industry for many years, in our experience we have found many clients looking to progress contractor management to the next level: contractor self-management.
RE-EVALUATING HOW YOU PRE-QUALIFY
Pre-qualification is one of the initial steps when it comes to contractor management. Some companies will place a very high value on pre-qual while for others it might take an accident or incident on site to trigger them into looking at how they qualify contractors working on their site. But either way, it is good to take a step back and evaluate your pre-qualification process from time to time, find gaps in the process and look to improve. These gaps can be operational gaps, they could be gaps as a result of using a paper-based system, or it could be gaps around compliance.
Health and safety is a lot more to the fore than it was previously going back 10-20 years ago and it is continuing to evolve, so companies really have to invest in every aspect of safety. Keeping your company employees safe and making sure each day they are going home safely and the same for any contractors coming on site too should be the goal of any EHS professional. Going back in time, contractors would have come onto site and if they were involved in an accident it would have been deemed as their own fault and responsibility. Those days have absolutely changed now.
WHAT IS CONTRACTOR SELF-MANAGEMENT?
What we see as well is that companies generally want to work with the better contractors, and to do that they have to have them more engaged in the whole process of when they are working on site and before they go on site. One way to increase this engagement is to give them the opportunity to self-manage somewhat the information that is required from them or those that you set as a company.
A system which allows for the ability of self-management is where the contractor has a platform to log on and update any information, answer questions and input certifications, insurances and any other required documentation that the company can then process ahead of time so that they know before you come on site to do a particular job that you’re safe. Really what you’re looking for is that you’re giving the contractor more ownership of the whole health and safety process and that’s a lot better. The more sought-after contractors are the ones who have more ownership and are better engaged with you as a client.
What you can sometimes find is that you will have one person on site who deals with all the contractors and they will pick contractors for whatever reason, maybe they know they’ve done the job before and they haven’t made a mistake, but at the same time if they delved into it maybe that contractor hasn’t got the correct insurances or maybe their qualifications are out of date, so if they did come on site and there was an accident then that person is at risk of being caught out as well. So, what an electronic system for contractor self-management is trying to do is make the process for both the client and the contractor easier and essentially get the contractor involved.
WHY USE AN ELECTRONIC CONTRACTOR MANAGEMENT SYSTEM?
Humans make mistakes of the process, there are gaps in the process, filling in paper can be cumbersome, and paper can get lost. There are so many silly things that can happen along the way that can cause accidents or that can result in site shutdowns. By moving to an electronic system, it just means that there is a process in place and there is much less chance of a gap in that process happening. It is important to have an electronic system that is configurable to your requirements as a company, you know you can key in what you need from your contractors but at the same time you want someone to put in place a process so that operationally you are running that whole part of your company as efficiently as you can. A good electronic system will really help with all that but will also prepare you for the future (which is electronic!).
THE BENEFITS OF SELF-MANAGEMENT FOR THE CLIENT & CONTRACTORS
The first thing with self-management of contractors comes down to cost. Every company is conscious of the cost of their supplier and the way their company operates and what they can save; for example if you can have your contractor doing inductions, uploading documentation, having that company verify that information on their end before they come on site, then you are saving both your time and the contractors, and that’s a huge thing.
The cost factor also comes down to preventing any accidents or incidents on site which can have a huge risk for things like brand / reputation damage, loss of revenue, closing down a site.
As well as the cost benefit, you are putting in place standardisation of your safety culture, of health and safety right across the organisation. What we see sometimes is a lot of disconnect between sites, between areas, between regions and linking in with the global policy at corporate level. This makes it so much easier to get your global policy out and make sure that as a company, right across the board you are ready to go.
The very last point is that every company wants to minimise your risk and you want to work with the best contractors. By having something like this in place you are rewarding the better contractors, you are weeding out the bad guys and that not only benefits you, but it benefits the better contractors, better teamwork overall.