Reimagining Contractor Qualification: Questions Answered

Q:

On April 4, Safety Plus Inc published Reimagining Contractor Qualification. The following questions are in response to the article.

A:

Contractor qualification (CQ) has been around for some time. Larger facilities face the paradoxical responsibility of ensuring safety compliance for employees that are not their own but are performing work on their job site. Since it would be near-impossible for owners and operators to implement an all-encompassing safety management program for another company’s employees, CQ programs allow them to prequalify subcontractor companies to ensure adequate historical safety records and standards.

Here are some questions we've received on the subject.

Question 1: Regarding the questionnaires that owners and operators require subcontracting companies to complete in the prequalification process, what if some of the answers to the questions are “N/A”? Will that hurt our score?

Answer 1: I often get this question and always have to say it depends. Factors that affect this question the most are what industrial classification NAICS code fits your company and what tasks are generally undertaken by companies in your code.

For instance, if you are an insulator, questions like "Do you have a scaffold policy or aerial lift training?" are going to apply even if your company never uses scaffolds or aerial lifts (which if you are an insulator is probably not likely). In this case, if you answer N/A your score will be affected. In this scenario you will likely have to apply for a variance or other consideration.

Question 2: Sometimes the insurance requirements of owners are too expensive. What can be done to combat this (besides purchasing more insurance, which my company cannot afford)?

Answer 2: Insurance requirements are usually based on the potential for catastrophic events to occur and subsequent coverage limits. Some qualification systems have the ability to tier contractors and adjust the insurance coverage limits within the tiers, but many are just one limit and all contractors have to meet that limit. I suggest you reach out to your customer for additional guidance.

Question 3: Some of the sites our company serves require us to track our employees’ qualifications. Our company sends different employees to multiple sites on a daily basis and keeping up with who is qualified to go where is a constant organizational problem for our administrative staff. What is the best way to track this for our own employees on a regular basis?

Answer 3: That’s easy – the best way is to utilize SafetyPlusWeb™’s Qualification feature.

This is a real challenge for companies. Not only do you need to know which locations your employees are currently qualified for site entry but also which of your employees are qualified to perform certain tasks – who is forklift trained? Who has a current respirator fit test? Who has been scaffold trained?

You could try to keep up with these qualifications in Excel but there are typically multiple variables with different expiration dates and that requires applying multiple complex formulas. A better solution is a safety management software that tracks this data for you.

For more information on contractor management, check out Safety Plus’s webinar, “Reimagining Contractor Management,” on April 18th, where they will discuss current contractor management programs, flaws in the design, and ways to improve CQ for owners and operators, subcontracting companies, and everyone else involved. Register here.

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Written by Rob Cowden
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Rob Cowden is the Chief Innovation Officer at Safety Plus, Inc. He holds a degree in Environmental
Science with an emphasis on Hazardous Material Management and spent years serving in the Army and
National Guard. Rob has been in the Safety Industry since 1990 and has been with Safety Plus since
1999. Rob was the chief architect behind the design of SafetyPlusWeb™, Safety Plus Inc’s proprietary
safety management software that is used by over 400 companies across the United States. Rob has held
multiple certifications in safety/environmental fields and has been a Guest Lecturer at several safety
consulting events in the last 5 years – most significantly dealing with technology applications in
construction. He is the father of 3 awesome children (Jake, Brooklyn, & Savannah) and husband to his
smoking-hot wife, Christie.

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