INCLUDING CONTRACTORS IN YOUR HEALTH AND SAFETY EFFORTS: HOW SOFTWARE CAN HELP.
As we’ve discussed on a previous blog post, businesses who engage contractors to do work for them (or with them) have a legal responsibility to look after the health and safety of these contractors. In that post we also outlined some steps businesses can take to ensure they create a safe work environment for the employees AND contractors. Among other things, we argued that the right kind of health and safety software can be hugely beneficial. In this blog post we will drill a bit deeper into the role software can play and what to look for when choosing a new software system.
Everyone on one platform
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Agency of the Department of Labor in the United States (OSHA), effective communication and collaboration is key to contractor safety. However, it’s not just contractors who need to be informed and engaged – employees need to be as well. Managing the two separately can be time-consuming and inefficient. Therefore, the best health and safety software connects everyone – employees, contractors and management – on one platform that’s easy to access for everyone.
For us at Blerter, this means enable businesses to add contractors to their Blerter team and projects. Once added, contractors are mostly treated the same as employees which means everyone gets the same information without managers needing to double up on work.
However, there is no value in having everyone connected on one platform unless it's the right kind of tool.
Therefore, there are a few other things to look out for.
Real-time information flow
A good health and safety software is one that allows information to flow out to all employees and contractors in real-time, so they’re aware of new hazards, alerts and other critical information as soon as they come up.
And information needs to flow seamlessly to everyone on site – not just the main contractor but also everyone that works for the contractor as well as any subcontractors. When it comes to health and safety, business can’t afford the time it would take to communicate with the manager of the contracting business and rely on them to communicate with their team. Host businesses need to be confident critical health and safety information gets to everyone on site in real-time without any delays.
Health and safety software needs to support this and ensure everyone has access to relevant information as soon as it’s released by management.
The best health and safety software also empowers the contractors (and everyone else on the team) to take an active role and report incidents, near misses or other suggestions. The software would then make sure the contractor is kept in the loop about progress on resolving the issue – keeping them engaged and secure in the knowledge their safety is being prioritised.
At Blerter, we connect everyone on the same platform which means contractors have access to our Blert feature (just as employees do). That means, a contractor can report any concerns they come across directly from their mobile device. These ‘Blerts’ will automatically go to the person responsible who can then take action to address the issue.
The software should also make it easier for our health and safety managers to keep tabs on contractors so they know who is on site at any given time. Access to details about their certifications and qualifications is another important aspect. Imagine a busy work environment where a manager is coordinating employees and contractors to complete a job. It is likely the managers know their own people fairly well but not the contractors. Therefore, a simple way to access information about contractors can make all the difference in making sure contractors are qualified to carry out work safely.
In Blerter, everyone – including contractors – creates a profile which includes their contact details as well as their employment history, qualifications and certifications. This information is easily visible to managers. A check-in function ensures managers also have full visibility as to which contractors were onsite at any one time.
Easy to access and use
Finally (but by no means least important), effective health and safety software needs to be easy to access and use – especially in an environment that involves contractors. By nature, most contractors are on short- to mid-term assignments and are often expected to deliver results quickly. Therefore, any complicated health and safety procedures will likely be seen as time wastage and unnecessary bureaucracy. For contractors to be engaged and motivated, it needs to be easy for them to access and use the health and safety system.
Health and safety software that meets those criteria has the potential to be incredibly valuable in helping companies create safe and productive work environments for everyone – contractors and employees alike.