In many businesses, hiring contractors is common practice. It could be due to seasonal demand or needing a specialist to come in for a specific piece of work. No matter the reason, your business will often find that it needs to bring in outside help instead of relying only on your existing team.
Of course, the only problem with hiring contractors is that they come with risk.
Unlike your own team, contractors aren’t trained within your business and may not have the same standards in skillsets and safety. Furthermore, they don’t know your worksite like your team does, so they’re not as aware of potential hazards, unique risk factors and specific safety systems. Despite being qualified and highly skilled, it is also entirely possible that they may not have the required safety documentation (trade licences, insurance, work permits, white cards, etc.).
But don’t worry — even with these additional risks, contractors are still entirely valuable to your business. You just have to make sure you effectively mitigate and minimise the risk factors by taking these simple steps:
Step 1. Formulating your minimum requirements
Before you can assess whether a contractor is a good fit for your business or project, you need to know what criteria to look for. Create a list of the qualifications, safety systems, insurances, and required experience, and use this list when considering potential contractors. This process will help remove the most obvious risk factors before they have a chance to happen.
Step 2. Prequalification and vetting
Thoroughly vetting and prequalifying all potential contractors before engagement can significantly impact the amount of risk you take on when bringing them on board.
Once you have a shortlist of candidates, assess each one against a list of the specific and general requirements of the project. Check they have:
- Relevant certificates and licences
- Company documentation
- Job-specific experience
- Safety training
You should also contact previous employers as a reference like you would with any job interview process. This prequalification and vetting process will mitigate the vast majority of risk factors before they become an issue.
Step 3. Drug and alcohol testing
This one may seem obvious, but when working in high-risk environments, such as a construction site, it’s crucial that everybody is operating with a clear head. Substance testing won’t remove all the risks, but it can ensure that everybody is focused and aware.
Of course, be careful not to jump the gun here, and never run the tests yourself. Hire a professional testing company experienced in conducting tests and interpreting results, as you don’t want to get rid of an otherwise perfect candidate just for having a drink on the weekend!
Step 4. Safety training
Even if the contractors know how to work safely, they may not be experienced in the specific risks associated with your project and worksite. They also may be unaware of the systems and procedures you have in place to alert about and preemptively handle risks and what to do when something goes wrong.
Developing and enforcing site-specific inductions and mandatory training courses for contractors will help fortify your safety procedures and ensure that every worker, whether they’re in-house or contracted, follows the same protocols.
Step 5. Detailed contracts
Rock-solid contracts should be in place to protect both you and the contractor. They need to cover:
- Responsibilities and liabilities for any accidents or incidents that occur on the job involving either party, including details of what should be reported, who to, and who may be financially liable for damages.
- Expected timelines and penalties for failure to meet them.
- Clear responsibilities for any errors or corrections required.
Step 6. Insurance
Verifying the presence and coverage of the contractor’s insurance may not help to prevent accidents on the job site, but it will reduce the potential damages. The insurance coverage details (or lack thereof!) may also highlight a history of risk factors that might have gone unnoticed.
Additionally, be sure to check both your and the contractor’s insurance coverage in the event of financial troubles. You don’t want a contractor’s bankruptcy torpedoing a project!
By following the steps above, you ensure that your business can utilise contractors as safely and efficiently as possible. But you may be asking: how does my business implement these steps?
Well, we can help.
Conserve helps you mitigate the risks of hiring contractors by offering an advanced prequalification and contractor management system, allowing you to trust contractors as you would your own team.
Whether utilised as a complete solution or used in tandem with an existing team in-house, we help you check all relevant criteria before you put your business at risk. Additionally, our system can preemptively track and notify you and your contractors of any expiring documentation, so you’re never caught off-guard.
Get ahead of the game by getting in touch with Conserve today, and subscribe to our newsletter for regular updates and insights!