How to Choose Safe Subcontractors

Your construction site is made up of many moving parts — from machinery and materials, to products and supplies — and subcontractors play a big role in keeping it all moving in the right direction. When it’s time to hire those subcontractors it’s important to choose wisely, because as the job site owner or project contractor, you could be held liable for the actions of subcontractors.

So what’s the best way to bring on the safest subcontractors? Here are five things to focus on during the hiring process.

Check Records: The first step towards safety is to take a look at the contractor’s Worker’s Compensation records. The most important number is the Experience Modification Rate (EMR), which shows you how many losses the contractor has had over the previous three-year period, compared to how many losses is typical for that type of contractor. The lower the score, the safer the contractor.

Evaluate Management: When it comes to leadership, it’s important to assess these elements of the subcontractor’s safety program:

  • How frequent are safety meetings held for field supervisors?
  • How frequent are project safety inspections performed, and to what degree do they include project and field supervisors?
  • Who receives accident reports (field superintendent, vice president of construction, company president) and how often (as they happen, once a week, once a month)?
  • Do accident reports include the names of those in charge at the site? Management is held more accountable for safety if accident report frequency is charged against supervisors, not just to the company.
  • How are accident costs reported? Again, are accident costs charged against the supervisors involved?

Look for a Formal Program: Contractors with solid safety records generally have formal programs in place with essential features like orientation for new workers and supervisors, frequent toolbox meetings, a written safety program, and on-site inspections.

Inspect Inspection Reports: Be sure to ask whether the subcontractor has been inspected in recent years, and pay special attention to inspection reports and any OSHA citations.

Require Up-To-Date Insurance: Subcontractors should provide proof of worker’s compensation insurance, general liability and, if applicable, vehicle insurance. Remember, subcontractors who aren’t properly covered are usually more of a liability risk.

After you’ve hired your safe subcontractor, it’s important to communicate your safety requirements with them frequently. Now that you’ve taken the right precautions, let the work begin!



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