In a recent post, we discussed some of the numbers contained within a subcontractor’s prequalification packet, and the snapshot they can provide of the success or failure of their safety program. We also hinted that these figures, called lagging indicators, don’t tell the whole story. In this post, we look at some of the leading factors that can act as key performance indicators for a subcontractor’s safety program.

How are injury and illness prevention approached?

The proactive steps a contractor takes to prevent injuries in the workplace can say a lot about how a contractor approaches safety. A lot of subcontractors may say that safety is their “top priority”. But priorities change. Safety and health must be a value. Company values are less susceptible to change.

From the front office to the job-site, the value of safety should be an ongoing discussion for contractors. Meetings should address safety issues on upcoming jobs, problems that need to be addressed, upcoming opportunities for additional training, safety successes and more.

Ask a contractor for records of:

  • Management safety activities
  • Daily inspection reports and risk assessments
  • Pre-task/risk assessment meetings 
  • Weekly tailgate safety meetings
  • Behavior based/peer observations statistics
  • Safe acts or condition statistics  
  • Safety Culture survey results
  • Employee involvement/buy-in initiatives or programs

In 2013 Thomas Industrial Coatings recorded 5,656 pre-task and risk assessment meetings, and 1,438 general safety/weekly tailgate safety meetings.

If these preventative programs are successfully executed and sufficiently documented, they can be used as key performance indicators, measured against lagging indicators such as EMR and Incident Rates to gauge the overall success of the safety program. Additional education and resources can then be devoted to areas in need. This leads to a safety and health program that is continuously evolving to achieve best results.

What safety documentation does the contractor have in place?

All good contractors have some form of safety and health management documentation in place. The workplace is changing quickly, and regulatory agencies simply do not have the time and resources to determine best practices for each individual business. That responsibility falls on the contractor.

At Thomas, additional documentation takes the form of our Core Safety Systems manual. Designed by experienced safety professionals, it is taught, circulated and enforced to ensure that every employee has the tools and know-how to make the workplace a safer place.

Check to see if your prospective contractor has safety documentation and procedures in place beyond those required by regulatory agencies.

Though every safety professional would like for positive safety reinforcements to be enough, the reality is that a system of corrective measures must be in place in the form of a progressive discipline program for rule violations. These should be severe enough to discourage unwanted behaviors. Without them, employees may not fear the consequences of safety violations, and disregard for the organization’s safety rules could spread through the ranks. These disciplinary measures should also be a part of a prospective contractor’s documentation.

How many dedicated safety professionals does the contractor have on hand and what type of credentials do they require of their supervisors?

How many safety professionals a contractor has on hand will depend on the volume of work they typically handle. At least one qualified safety professional, such as a Certified Safety Professional (CSP) is strongly recommended. Certifications for these positions, through an organization like the Board of Certified Safety Professionals, are essential.

A qualified safety professional should play a hand in devising and revising the additional safety documentation and procedures that a contractor has on hand. The qualified safety professional will also take the lead in coordinating ongoing safety training for employees.

Does the contractor have Safety Trained Supervisors (STS) on staff? This shows that a contractor invests time and energy in field supervision. They require their supervisors to demonstrate competency through experience, training, examination and continued education.

Companies handling a larger scope of work should have additional safety personnel on staff. Thomas Industrial Coatings currently has four full-time safety professionals on hand, as well as a contract safety professionals stationed permanently on-site at the Eads Bridge in St. Louis.

Stay tuned to our blog for the next installment of our safety series, or click the banner below to download the full safety guide.

Ask the right questions about safety. Download our guide for hiring a safe industrial painter.

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