Contractor Safety Prequalification: The Reality of Demanded Written Programs
- David W. Wilbanks (Murray State University)
- Document ID
- American Society of Safety Engineers
- Professional Safety
- Publication Date
- July 2018
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 36 - 40
- 2018. American Society of Safety Engineers
- 1 in the last 30 days
- 28 since 2007
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- Hiring companies value written safety programs and frequently demand their contractors submit to be eligible to perform work.
- Desktop audits are the common means to verify written programs; field verification audits are rare.
- Consultant services to author written programs for contractors are ubiquitous. Hiring companies should reconsider the emphasis given to written safety program submission given the uncertainty of their actual implementation, the possible absence of practical benefit and the significant burden placed on contractors to produce them.
Contractor prequalification is a “pre-tender process used to investigate and assess the capabilities of contractors to carry out a contract satisfactorily if it is awarded to them” (Hatush & Skitmore, 1997; Truitt, 2012). Written safety program submission is frequently required of contractors for review by hiring organizations or their third-party service providers as a condition of contractor prequalification. Consider a recent study of safety professionals in which more than 57% of respondents rated the evaluation of contractor written safety programs as being very or extremely important during contractor safety prequalification (Figure 1; Wilbanks, 2017). Programs required by hiring organizations regularly include evidence of contractor employee orientation, training and prejob task and risk assessment (Inouye, 2015).
Petersen (2001) might have ascribed the affinity for program submission as stemming from the “OSHA Era” of 20th century safety management evolution. He complained that overemphasis to programs with inadequate emphasis given to the humans who are subject to them inevitably results in workers not caring about safety. “And we wonder why our programs don’t fly! (p. 120).” Programs are not safety, Petersen (2000) retorts, they are “islands of safety,” normally in answer to the dictates of OSHA but not integrated into the overall management system. Petersen (2001) challenges the effectiveness of programs, asking: “Are they effective? Do they change attitudes or behavior? Do they motivate or even communicate?” (p. 117).
A present-day answering of Petersen’s questions in the context of contractor prequalification is aided by the observations of Philips and Waitzman (2013), who offer that requiring program submission may have some value (Table 1).
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